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Senate Tries to Get Past Hot Air in Climate Hearings

smokestackitudeWith the Senate set to wrap up three days of hearings on the climate bill Oct. 29, stakeholders on all sides of the debate are ramping up their sales pitches.

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said that new climate legislation can bring the kind of changes needed to restore U.S. economic health, speaking before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.

“The legislation would transform the American economy from one that is relatively energy inefficient and dependent on highly-polluting energy production to one that is highly energy efficient and powered by advanced, cleaner, and more domestically-sourced energy,” Jackson said, adding that the legislation would bring about that transformation at a cost of less than 50 cents per day per American household in 2020.

“I think Americans want reform that harnesses the country’s can-do spirit,” she continued.

Also speaking before the committee, Energy Secretary Steven Chu said that so far the U.S. has “stumbled” in the clean energy race, with China and the EU setting the pace, reports the New York Times.

However, Chu remains optimistic, adding that, “When we gear up our research and production of clean energy technologies, we can still surpass any other country.”

As the committee deliberates the climate bill, as sponsored by Democratic Senators John Kerry of Massachusetts and Barbara Boxer of California, Republicans are dismissing the legislation as a job-killer that favors some parts of the country over others.

Even some Democrats spared no criticism. Senator Max Baucus, the Montana Democrat, said the Senate bill is “too ambitious” for setting a GHG emissions reduction target of 20 percent by 2020. Baucus also says that the legislation would not do enough to reign in the EPA on regulating CO2 emissions.

George V. Voinovich (R-Ohio) warned the committee about moving too fast, posing the quesiton, “Why are we trying to jam down this legislation now?”

Fox commentator Glenn Beck called the run-up to the Copenhagen talks the “end of U.S. sovereignty.”

Yet, Dana Milbank, a columnist for The Washington Post, noted that most Republicans on the committee seem to no longer share the view of Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) that man-made global warming is the “greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people.” Inhofe is the ranking Republican on the committee.

As quoted at the hearings: “Eleven academies in industrialized countries say that climate change is real; humans have caused most of the recent warming,” said Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.). “If fire chiefs of the same reputation told me my house was about to burn down, I’d buy some fire insurance.”

Even David Vitter (R-La.), from a leading oil state, said that the nation should quit focusing on “high-carbon fuels” and instead focus on conservation, nuclear, natural gas and electric cars.

Inhofe continued to protest the notion of climate change, however, proclaiming, “Science is not settled! Everyone knows it’s not settled!”

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