House Energy and Commerce Republicans Turn Blind Eye to Climate Change Science

Feb 6, 2013

Today, the Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee offered three amendments to direct the Committee to hear from experts about the science of climate change, the risks it poses for the nation, and the shrinking window for action.  Two of the three amendments were debated and voted upon.  The purpose of these amendments was to force the Committee to vote on whether it will educate itself through hearings, so the members will be in a position to have informed discussions about the preeminent energy challenge of our era.

All Republican members of the Committee voted not to hold hearings to receive the expert testimony of scientists.  The two amendments considered today were:

  1. An amendment by Rep. Bobby L. Rush directing the Committee to hear from scientists on the role of climate change in causing drought, heat waves, wildfires, reduced crop yields, and impaired electricity generation
  2. An amendment by Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. to require the Committee to hear from scientists on the threats of climate change to coastal areas in the United States, including how climate change can contribute to storms like Superstorm Sandy

“I am disappointed that the primary energy committee has come to this point of denying the science,” said Rep. Waxman.  “House Republicans have buried their heads in the sand.  I hope they will realize how out of step they are with the science, the public, and the business community.  We have a moral duty to act to prevent the worst impacts of climate change affecting our children and future generations.”

During the debate, 13 Democratic members spoke in favor of the amendments, while the Republican members sat silently in the Committee room and rarely engaged in the debate.  Rep. Waxman said, “Mr. Rush and I wrote Chairman Upton and Chairman Whitfield 21 times last Congress to request hearings with climate change scientists.  Chairman Upton and Chairman Whitfield never responded to those letters.  Today, the Republicans did not respond to the arguments of Democratic members.  Unfortunately, the Republicans can’t make climate change go away by pretending it doesn’t exist.”

The Committee will reconvene on Tuesday, February 12 at 4 p.m. to debate additional amendments, including one by Ranking Member Henry A. Waxman, which calls for hearings to examine recent reports that the worst climate change impacts can only be avoided with near-term action.  The voting record of Committee members on the two amendments is available online here.