Republicans showed depressing blindness and ignorance today in shutting down the only Congressional committee devoted solely to energy security and climate issues. Set up by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and chaired by Edwin Markey (D-MA), the committee was “tasked with finding solutions that address the energy, economic and national security challenges associated with our dependence on foreign oil and increasing carbon pollution.” In short, the committee was designed to address very tangible threats to US and world economic prosperity in the form of dependence on dwindling fossil fuel supplies and the imminent disruptive climate change caused by that very dependence.
According to news reports found in Mother Jones, Republicans had, instead, intended on using the committee as a platform for harassing climate scientists. Rumblings from Darrel Issa (R-CA) and Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) seemed to indicate that a witch hunt may well be in the offing. Sensenbrenner stated that he wanted to use the panel to probe climate scientists whom he accused of perpetrating a “massive international scientific fraud.” Meanwhile Issa has made equally baseless claims “that [climate scientists] played fast and loose with both the truth and our money.”
The, what would be laughable if it weren’t so serious, political hot air, came at a time when NASA, NOAA and scientific agencies around the world were recording the hottest climate year on record and in the face of diminishing Arctic sea ice and unprecedented weather events likely caused by the very forces Republicans seemed so bound and determined to ignore. It seems, however, that Republicans made the calculation that a public battle with, obviously correct, scientists wouldn’t be such a great idea after all and so, instead, chose to simply snuff the committee out.
The Committee on Global Warming and Energy Independence’s short four-year tenure was marked by ground-breaking legislation meant to address both climate change and the nation’s politically and environmentally dangerous dependence of fossil fuels. It helped to shape the 2007 energy bill and ensured that $90 billion in domestic alternative energy project and efficiency funding was included in the 2009 Stimulus Bill. It played a significant role in the drafting of the 2009 climate bill which, unfortunately, was blocked by Senate Republicans. Much of the landmark legislation shaped by the Committee began the hard work necessary to address the dual issues of achieving US energy independence and mitigating climate change. Sadly, that work has now been halted.
Learn more about the Committee’s work here.