Climate Change News

Safe Climate Act introduced to Congress; and National Academy of Sciences releases climate change report requested by House Committee on Science chair

Last Tuesday, Rep. Henry Waxman of California introduced the Safe Climate Act (HR 5642), a so-called long-term, science-based solution to global warming. The measure would freeze U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in 2010 at 2009 levels and cut emissions by roughly 2% per year beginning in 2011, reaching 1990 emissions levels by 2020, and then cutting emissions by about 5% per year, resulting in 2050 emissions levels 80% lower than those in 1990.

Austin Rep. Lloyd Doggett signed on as an early sponsor. The act directs the EPA to set a cap on greenhouse gas emissions from the largest polluters, allowing them to buy and sell emissions allowances. The measure would also mimic California's strict motor vehicle emissions regulations and would direct the Department of Energy to establish an increasing national renewable energy standard, initially requiring 20% of U.S. electricity to come from renewables by 2020. At press time, the bill had been referred to the House Energy & Commerce and International Relations committees.

Also last week, the National Academy of Sciences released a climate change report requested by Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY), chair of the House Committee on Science. He called for the report last year after the House Committee on Energy and Commerce chair, Joe Barton – who represents the Sixth District of Texas and often the ExxonMobil Corporation, which spent $15 million from 1998-2004 to discredit climate change – launched an investigation of three climate scientists who made bold global warming claims in the late 1990s. The new report states that "there is sufficient evidence … to say with a high level of confidence that the last few decades of the 20th century were warmer than any comparable period in the last 400 years," and that "current warming is occurring in response to human activities." Boehlert told the Associated Press, "there is nothing in this report that should raise any doubts about the broad scientific consensus on global climate change."

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