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February 5, 2007
Volume 85, Number 6
p. 10

First Of Many

Senate Takes Up Climate Change

Senate hearing kicks off energy debate in new Congress

Jeff Johnson

Mug Title Courtesy of Barbara Boxer
Mug Title Courtesy of James Inhofe

A MARATHON Senate hearing on global warming held on Jan. 30 brought together some 25 senators to offer their views or explain legislation they intend to support in the new Congress. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), chairman of the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee, organized the hearing with the goal, she said, of "taking the pulse of the Senate." She added that, for her, the debate over the science was over and that it was now time to find ways to reduce greenhouse gases.

During the four-hour-plus hearing, only three senators spoke against legislative action. The bills discussed were as diverse as the anthropogenic sources of CO2 that contribute to global warming and included ones to increase funding for energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies, raise vehicle fuel efficiency, or set declining caps on CO2 emissions and encourage emissions trading.

Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.) presented their bill to reduce CO2 emissions to 2000 levels by 2010 and establish a trading program; Sen. Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.) presented his approach to establish a greenhouse gas trading system and an emissions cap at 1990 levels to be reached by 2020. Both bills have multiple sponsors. McCain stressed that he was willing to negotiate new language.

Several senators said they had opposed climate-change legislation in the past but now support it, often for regional reasons. For instance, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) cited the Arctic's declining ice cap and global warming's impact on birds, mammals, and fisheries when she discussed her bill to encourage new energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies. Sen. Blanche L. Lincoln (D-Ark.) explained how temperature rise was hurting Arkansas' tourist economy by reducing the length of the state's duck-hunting season as well as limiting outdoor activities for Arkansas families.

The primary senator opposing the legislation was former committee chairman Sen. James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.), who had urged Boxer not to hold the hearing. He promised to continue to point out "the lack of scientific consensus" on climate change and the "real economic impact" of enacting emissions reduction legislation.

Chemical & Engineering News
ISSN 0009-2347
Copyright © 2011 American Chemical Society