Thursday, April 7, 2011

Senate Narrowly Misses Their Chance to Deny Climate Science

Yesterday there were four votes in the Senate related to climate science.  The amendments were designed to either further limit EPA's ability to do what the Clean Air Act and a Supreme Court decision compelled them to do...complete an endangerment finding and then regulate accordingly greenhouse gases.  In March the Republican-led House voted to deny amendments acknowledging the state of the science.  And yesterday the Senate did essentially the same thing.

Brad Johnson, writing on a left-leaning blog called The Wonk Room describes it this way:
McConnell Amendment: Four pollution-fueled Democrats embraced the “Energy Tax Prevention Act” — the extremist legislation introduced by Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) to literally deny the science of global warming. The Democrats who voted for the McConnell amendment, which failed by a 50-50 vote, were Sen. Mary Landrieu (LA), Joe Manchin (WV), Ben Nelson (NE), and Mark Pryor (AR). In the 2010 cycle, Koch Industries contributed $39,500 to Landrieu, $36,500 to Nelson, and $30,000 to Pryor. Manchin’s 2010 election was fueled by over $500,000 from coal and oil interests.

Rockefeller Amendment: Nine Democrats voted for Sen. Jay Rockefeller’s (D-WV) amendment for a two-year moratorium on climate rules, which failed by a 12-88 vote: Sen. Kent Conrad (ND), Tim Johnson (SD), Landrieu, Manchin, Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Nelson, Pryor, Rockefeller, and Jim Webb (VA).

Stabenow-Brown Amendment: Seven Democrats voted for Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Sen. Sherrod Brown’s (D-OH) amendment to suspend, for 2 years, any Environmental Protection Agency enforcement of greenhouse gas regulations, to exempt American agriculture from greenhouse gas regulations, and to increase the number of companies eligible to participate in the Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credit Program, which failed 7-93: Brown, Robert Casey (PA), Conrad, Amy Klobuchar (MN), Johnson, Pryor, and Stabenow.

Baucus Amendment: Seven Democrats voted for Sen. Max Baucus’s (D-MT) amendment to prohibit the regulation of greenhouse gases from certain sources, which also failed 7-93: Baucus, Mark Begich (AK), Kay Hagan (NC), Carl Levin (MI), Klobuchar, Conrad, and Johnson.
As I've noted here before, it's perfectly acceptable to debate the policy options for dealing with climate change.  But the votes on these amendments, and those earlier in the House, are not on policy options but rather politicians exerting their political veto of science itself.   Regarding climate change, the US National Academies of Sciences last year noted that:

A strong, credible body of scientific evidence shows that climate change is occurring, is caused largely by human activities, and poses significant risks for a broad range of human and natural systems….
This state of climate science is concurred by very nearly all active climate researchers, the most recent IPCC report, the National Academies of all of the major countries of the world, and pretty much all of the major scientific organizations on the planet.  Every single one of whom concur that the climate is changing and that human activity is the major cause.  The US National Academies even recently called it "settled fact."

And yet, here are both houses of Congress voting to deny the science because they don't want to have to do the hard work of honestly debating policy options to deal with the science.  The political debate should be focused on finding solutions, not denying the science and hog-tying the agency compelled by the science.

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