Agreeing on the problem, if not the solution

Despite the very different views of the majority and minority parties in the Senate, there was in fact a fair degree of agreement among the witnesses at today’s hearing on climate science and local adaptation.

During the climate science portion of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing, both the majority and minority witnesses agreed that the Earth has warmed over the past 120 years. With the recent publication of the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project by former skeptic Richard Muller, there are now four (NOAA, NASA and Hadley are the others) major global temperature records that are in agreement that the Earth has warmed 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit over the past 50 years.

Business and government start preparing for climate impacts

Today’s Senate hearing isn’t just about the science of climate change. It’s also about the actions that need to be taken now to adapt to the reality of a changing climate. Businesses and governments each have a critical role to play in building resilient communities and economies.

Business-as-usual is already being interrupted by extreme heat, historic drought, record-setting wildfires, and flooding. Events from water shortages to floods are disrupting the supply chains for such companies as Honda, Toyota, Kraft, Nestle and MillerCoors. By the end of 2011, the United States had recorded more billion-dollar disasters than it did during all of the 1980s, totaling about $55 billion in losses.

Senate gets back to climate science

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee holds a hearing tomorrow called “Update on the Latest Climate Change Science and Local Adaptation Measures.” This is the first Senate hearing focused directly on climate science in the 112th Congress, and we hope it won’t be the last. Climate change is happening, the news from peer-reviewed science is increasingly daunting, and the public needs to hear what credible scientists are learning about the risks and potential solutions.

Climate Debate in Congress

As of August 2014, 221 bills focusing specifically on climate change had been introduced in the 113th Congress (2013-2014). Many more bills touch on energy, environment, transportation, agriculture and other areas that could have an impact on or be affected by climate change. The list below, however, contains for the most part only those bills whose authors explicitly reference climate change or related terms, such as greenhouse gases (GHG) or carbon dioxide. (For brevity, all legislative proposals, including resolutions and amendments, are referred to here as "bills.") The list includes 134 bills that are intended to advance climate action, as well as 87 bills that would hinder climate action, 56 of which would curb EPA’s ability to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.

Though they do not specifically mention climate change, this list also includes those bills dealing with the impact of Hurricane Sandy that have been signed into law. The list also includes Public Law 113-89, which reverses many of the provisions of the Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012, and was enacted into law despite being opposed by climate action and taxpayer advocates.

In addition, the list includes the Shaheen-Portman and McKinley-Welch energy efficiency bills. Shaheen-Portman enjoyed bipartisan support and had been considered the best prospect for enactment among energy bills in this Congress. In May 2014, however, the bill fell five votes short of the 60 needed to bring the bill to a final vote in the Senate – a casualty of disagreements over whether to consider the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline and prohibition of EPA’s carbon dioxide regulations as amendments to the energy efficiency bill.

The bills, resolutions, and amendments of the 113th Congress dealing with climate change are divided into the following categories:

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