Senate Steps Up for Climate

from Wildlife Promise

The Senate started off 2014 with a lot of climate action.  Last week, the Senate committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW) held a hearing on President Obama’s Climate Action Plan. At the committee hearing, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy and White House Council on Environmental Quality Chairwoman Nancy Sutley testified, along with other senior administration officials.   While Republicans on the committee were fixated on denying climate science, the Democrats expressed concern over the serious impacts of climate change on wildlife species, from the iconic birds, fish and shellfish of the Northeast to the invasive bark beetle expanding its range and threatening Western forests.

Gina McCarthy testifying at the Senate EPW hearing on the climate plan

EPA administrator Gina McCarthy testifying at the Senate EPW hearing on the climate plan

In his opening remarks, Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID) said climate change is happening and cutting climate pollution would help alleviate the problem.  He said he supports “legislative solutions that preserve and enhance our natural environment” and encourages additional climate research so lawmakers can adopt the most effective policiesWhile Sen. Crapo doesn’t agree with everything laid out in President Obama’s climate plan, he appears willing to move past debating the science and into discussing viable solutions.

There was a lot of talk about jobs during the hearing: Republican members expressed concern that EPA regulations will kill jobs in industries such as coal.  But Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D, RI) brought up a good point—what about the jobs that we are already losing to climate change?  Global warming is altering fishing, farming, foresting, and outdoor recreation activities such as skiing.  The people who work in these industries are feeling the heat as climate change alters how they do business.

New Senate Climate Group

Fishing industries and wildlife of the Northeast are feeling the impacts of climate change.  Flickr photo by Geir Friestad

Fishing industries and wildlife of the Northeast are feeling the impacts of climate change. Flickr photo by Geir Friestad

Also last week, Sens. Whitehouse and Barbara Boxer (D-CA) launched a Climate Action Task Force to address climate change in the Senate, comprised of 18 Democratic and Independent senators. This task force will help to keep climate a priority issue across all Senate activity, as well as act as a force against climate science deniers. One of the main goals of the group is to shift the politics of climate change back in favor of legislating a price on greenhouse gas pollution, an effort that would help to reduce carbon emissions and minimize the negative effects of climate change.

Even with widespread scientific agreement on the severity of man-made climate change, there are still people who argue the validity of climate science.  And what is concerning is that so many of them are found in powerful positions in Congress.  This action on climate within the Senate is a positive indicator that we won’t let climate change deniers overpower the concerned citizens and lawmakers who want responsible action.

Take Action ButtonCongress should support the EPA and the President in their plan to address carbon pollution.  Take action now to show your support for limits on carbon pollution from power plants!