Posted by: Sara Shipley Hiles | July 8, 2009

Climate bill debate opens in Senate today

The Obama Administration’s climate change bill saw its first day of testimony in the Senate today. With the ongoing Michael Jackson frenzy still eclipsing news coverage – today it was his memorial service at the Staples Center – the climate bill wasn’t exactly leading the evening news.

However, there was plenty of reporting and blogging going on.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu is one of four top officials pushing climate and energy legislation in the U.S. Senate. FLICKR/CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS ACTION FUND

Energy Secretary Steven Chu is one of four top officials pushing climate and energy legislation in the U.S. Senate. FLICKR/CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS ACTION FUND

Darren Samuelsohn lead his story for Greenwire, as reprinted in the Scientific American, with a description of the four top administration officials who testified in favor of the bill before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

As Samuelsohn wrote,

“…the four emphasized the threats from climate change and how reducing greenhouse gas emissions would help the U.S. economy bounce back from a historic recession.

“Denial of the climate change problem will not change our destiny,” said Energy Secretary Steven Chu, moments after describing the recorded loss of half the summer Arctic polar ice cap since the 1950s, fast-rising seas and the prospect of a more than 10-degree-Fahrenheit increase in global air temperatures.

“A comprehensive energy and climate bill that caps and then reduces carbon emissions will,” Chu added. “America has the opportunity to lead a new industrial revolution of creating sustainable, clean energy. We can sit on the sidelines and deny the scientific facts, or we can get in the game and play to win.”

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and U.S. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson also pushed the Senate committee to act on an issue that sits atop the president’s domestic and international agenda.

The story continued with the political tug of war between committee Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Republican opponents, including Sen. Kit Bond of Missouri and Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma, the committee’s ranking Republican.

Meanwhile, Emily Gertz at Change.org continued her reporting on Inhofe, a longtime denier of anthropomorphic climate change. In her blog posting today, she noted that Inhofe told Fox News last week that he has asked for an investigation into the climate report allegedly “suppressed” by the EPA. (See my previous blog post on the report here.) Inhofe told Fox News that the EPA had been “cooking” the science on global warming and that it was the “greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people.”

See the Fox News report here:

Gertz posted another story about the EPA report featuring Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wy.) and his accusations during the Senate hearing today:

Did you hear the one about how the Obama administration is fostering a “culture of secrecy and suppression” of science?

That was the claim made by Senator John Barrasso (R-Wy.). At this morning’s hearing of the Environment and Public Works Committee, Sen. Barrasso spent most of his time projecting onto the Obama administration a phenomenon he didn’t seem to mind when it was actually practiced by the Bush-Cheney administration: censorship of scientific data on climate change, and suppression of the words and works of federal employees.

I think we haven’t heard the last of the EPA report.

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