House GOP Rejects Calls For Climate Hearings — But Democrats Will Keep Pressing

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA)

Between President Obama’s surprisingly hawkish second inaugural address, and the confirmation of John Kerry as Secretary of State, moves to combat climate change may be afoot in Washington.

That momentum extends to the House Energy and Commerce Committee, where ranking minority member Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) and his fellow Democrats have been pushing to move hearings on climate change onto the group’s agenda for this congressional session. Unfortunately, Republicans still control the House and thus the committee, and have already shot down Democrats’ efforts twice, according to a report in The Hill.

On Wednesday the Committee, along party lines, voted down Democratic amendments to its formal oversight plan for the 113th Congress….

One defeated amendment, from Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.), would have required hearings on the role of climate change in drought, heat waves, wildfires, reduced crop yields and other effects….

A second defeated amendment, by Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), called for hearings on climate-related coastal threats including sea-level rise, more frequent and intense storms, and ocean acidification. Both proposals called for witnesses including National Academy of Sciences members.

The good news is that Waxman intends to keep pressing, in order to get the GOP on record refusing to investigate an issue that is rapidly moving to the forefront of the American public’s concern:

More votes – with a similar outcome – are expected when the meeting to approve the oversight plan resumes next week.

Waxman is offering a third amendment calling for a hearing on recent reports that warn, “the window for action to prevent irreversible harm from climate change is closing rapidly.”

The need for American lawmakers to come to grips with the reality of climate change and global warming is pressing. In January, the Federal Advisory Committee released its draft of the third National Climate Assessment, and its prognostications were grim: If the United States remains on its current emissions path, most of the country will see a rise of 9 to 15 degrees Fahrenheit over the coming century, with ever-worsening extreme weather, heat waves, deluges and droughts as the result.

Encouragingly, there are signs President Obama will call for new policy pushes in next week’s State of the Union address. Even without new laws from Congress, the executive branch has numerous regulatory tools with which it can combat climate change, including having the Environmental Protection Agency move to curb carbon emissions from both new and existing power plants. Nor are Waxman and other Democrats sitting idle — they’ve announced the formation of a new Bicameral Climate Change Task Force, “dedicated to focusing Congressional and public attention on climate change and developing effective policy responses.”

As for where the Republicans are at, the House Science and Technology Committee is set to hold a hearing that appears destined to degenerate into a forum for climate denialism. The committee’s new chair, Rep. Lamar Smith’s (R-TX), has criticized “the idea of human-made global warming, railed against the media as “lap dogs” for not devoting enough airtime to climate deniers, and taken $500,000 from the oil and gas industries over his political career.

12 Responses to House GOP Rejects Calls For Climate Hearings — But Democrats Will Keep Pressing

  1. There must be some Republican heads above which a light bulb has begun dimly to glow. Private meetings between them and Republican and/or publicly Christian scientists may push them into the do-something camp.

    They can then work on House leadership.

  2. M Tucker says:

    The thing is we really don’t need more hearings. This is all the House Dems can do. They cannot introduce another bill so the only way to keep this issue in the news (albeit marginally since this news will not even get a mention on MSNBC) and to keep the pressure on the Republicans is to make demands for hearings. Sad, shameful, perhaps criminal Republican response to the most pressing catastrophe civilization has created.

  3. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    It seems vaguely hopeful, but what a commentary on US ‘democracy’. You get instant, bi-partisan support for water-boarding, illegal invasions and drone slaughter, but the greatest threat to humanity ever is denied, action delayed over and over, and we await a disaster so hideous that even the Republicans can’t deny it. Time for a reality check-these creatures will deny, delay and obstruct even until the waters are lapping the Capitol.

  4. D. R. Tucker says:

    Environmental coverage in mainstream news is sorely lacking, especially in relation to how quickly the challenges are mounting. We’ll talk to Tyson Miller with the Project For Improved Environmental Coverage about the first ever green ranking of major news outlets. And while we’re on the subject of what’s lacking in attention to climate coverage we’ll chat with J.J. Goldberg, a writer with the progressive Jewish publication, Forward, about his column this week entitled “President Obama’s Glaring Omission!”

    Read more:
    Under Creative Commons License: Attribution

  5. Ozonator says:

    Proving once again that it is easier to talk to Iranians than the extreme GOP and their legal terrorism of AGW -NRA.

  6. K. Spangler says:

    I think this article shows the unfortunate divide between political parties on an issue that should be equally important to all members of Congress, if not all citizens. As Mulga Mumblebrain said, this is the greatest threat to humanity because of its important to all humans living on this planet. This issue of climate change and even environmental issues in general should not be able to be shut down on a political motive by the Republicans because whether they like it or not, it is affecting them just the same. The short-mindedness and company alliance-based decisions are detrimental to making serious, sustainable change.

  7. Joan Savage says:

    Several GOP-majority states have split economies, part agribusiness hurt by extreme weather and part fossil-fuel dependent. I’d guess behind scenes conversations within states would precede House conversations.

  8. Paul Magnus says:

    GOP. Just. Bizarre. How can so many individuales be so corrupt?

  9. Solar Jim says:

    The human rapture and extinction event requires a Global Oil Party (it is written somewhere). Petroleum and associated fossil substances are, after all, precursors of carbonic acid (after extraction from the lithosphere and ignition in the atmosphere). The end-of-times is evidently characterized by physical and political acidity.

  10. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Yep, Solar. It is obvious that some, perhaps a great many, of these lunatics are driven by apocalyptic religious imbecility to actively seek a fiery end for humanity, as part of ‘God’s plan’. Regretably for us all, their God is almost certainly simply the ego-projection of their own twisted psyches, and ‘His’ genocidal appetites are those of the Believers, no-one else.

  11. clarence swinney says:

    #1=highest percent with low income
    44 per cent of workers at minimum wage
    #2=least tax on corporations
    #3-least tax on workers (fed-state-local=30% of gdp)
    #4 -Inequality
    What can be done to reverse these sorry stats?
    Increase minimum wage
    Increase tax rates on wealth—estates and incomes
    One family owns more wealth than 90% of families.
    10% get 43% individual income-pay 18% tax rate
    25% get 66% individual income-pay 15% tax rate
    50% get 87% individual income-pay 12.5% tax rate
    137 million earners paid 10.06% tax rate in 2009
    We Must tax to get revenue to balance the budget and
    start paying down that horrid debt plus reduce spending on Defense and Medicare
    clarence swinney

  12. K. Spangler says:

    In the nicest and most sincere way possible, I am curious how this particular point relates to the article above. I would love to hear a more developed statement against the GOP’s failure to recognize climate change as an important issue, rather than a direct slam at the GOP party altogether.