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House Leaders Attack Administration's Climate Plan

They say denial is not just a river in Egypt. Such is true for many House leaders at a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee today on the Obama administration’s climate change agenda. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and DOE Secretary Ernest Moniz had to endure the political grandstanding of the House's climate deniers, most of whom have accepted huge political donations from the oil and gas industry.

Here is how EPA Administrator McCarthy opened up her testimony:

Climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time. Based on the evidence, more than 97 percent of climate scientists are convinced that human caused climate change is occurring. If our changing climate goes unchecked, it will have devastating impacts on the United States and the planet. Reducing carbon pollution is critically important to the protection of Americans’ health and the environment upon which our economy depends.

Secretary Moniz added:

The evidence is overwhelming, the science is clear, and the threat from climate change is real and urgent. This is my judgment and it is the almost universal judgment of the scientific community.

Hard to argue with Administrator McCarthy and Secretary Moniz. But some House leaders did just that. Led by Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield (R-KY), House officials continually attacked the administration’s climate change plan—without ever offering up their own solution. After Administrator McCarthy referenced the agency’s upcoming proposal for addressing future power plant CO2 emissions, House members objected to the rule, alleging that the agency was busy burdening manufacturers and plants with job-killing regulations.

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) criticized House colleagues for failing to act on the climate crisis and for stop-gapping several climate-related actions by agencies.

“What’s your plan? If you don’t like the president’s plan, what’s your proposal?” Waxman asked. "This Congress has been called a do-nothing Congress, but on climate we are doing worse than nothing, we are affirmatively obstructing progress.”

When Waxman asked Secretary Moniz if it was too late to protect the planet from the worst effects of climate change Moniz answered:

We have to act in this decade because the CO2 problem is cumulative and every ton we emit we can check off against our children and grandchildren.

According to this Politico story, committee Democrats have been calling on their Republican colleagues to hold a hearing on climate change for years, but they expected the hearing to be more evidence of their House colleagues’ unwavering criticism of the president’s climate agenda and not a serious discussion of climate science. So true. As Waxman asked at the hearing "Where are the climate scientists?" Answer: They weren't invited.

The hearing kicks off a crucial moment for the administration’s climate plan, with the EPA expecting to issue its proposed regulation for new power plants Friday.

In the words of Rep. Waxman, let’s hope House leaders can move past denial and start a constructive dialogue.