Senate to vote on whether climate change is happeningThere are six* Republicans up for reelection in 2016 in states Obama carried in 2012: Marco Rubio of Florida, Mark Kirk of Illinois, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Rob Portman of Ohio, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin. The problem is, five of them were on record as climate skeptics the last time they ran in Obama states -- and they won anyway.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Tuesday he will allow the Senate to vote on an amendment asking if they agree that climate change is impacting the planet....
The GOP leader had promised to allow an open amendment process on the Keystone [XL pipeline] bill.
... a measure proposed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) ... asks whether lawmakers agree with the overwhelming consensus of scientists who say climate change is impacting the planet and is worsened by human-caused greenhouse gas emissions.
Democrats believe the measure could be a tough vote for some Republicans, particularly GOP senators running for reelection in 2016 in states carred by President Obama in 2012....
They all ran and won in 2010. That year, Rubio attacked his primary opponent, Charlie Crist, as "a believer in man-made global warming," adding, "I don't think there's the scientific evidence to justify it." Ayotte said, "there is scientific evidence that demonstrates there is some impact from human activities. However I don't think the evidence is conclusive." Portman said, “When you analyze all the data, there is a warming trend according to science. But the jury is out on the degree of how much is manmade.” Toomey said of climate change, "The extent to which that has been caused by human activity I think is not as clear. I think that is still very much disputed and has been debated." And Johnson said sunspots are a more likely culprit:
"I absolutely do not believe in the science of man-caused climate change," Johnson said. "It's not proven by any stretch of the imagination."Only Mark Kirk seems not to have been a denialist the last time he ran -- but he's flirted with skepticism recently, claiming that the fact that Greenland got the name "Greenland" long before planet-wide industrialization took off suggests that warming similar to what's happening today has happened in the past.
Johnson, in an interview last month, described believers in manmade causes of climate change as "crazy" and the theory as "lunacy."
"It's far more likely that it's just sunspot activity or just something in the geologic eons of time," he said.
*UPDATE: Sorry -- there are seven Republicans up for reelection in Obama states. I left out Chuck Grassley of Iowa. Grassley said this in a 2009 conference call with agricultural reporters:
Senator ... are you convinced greenhouse gas emissions cause climate change and are a threat to human health?
GRASSLEY: Well, I’d be foolish if I didn’t give -- I’d be foolish if I didn’t give it some consideration because there’s a massive amount of scientists that feel that it does. But there’s also an increasing number of scientists that have doubt about it.
And so, not being a scientist, I don’t know exactly where to say only those things that are really quantifiable, and temperature has risen. But the scientific aspect that I still reserving judgment on is the extent to which it’s manmade or natural.
So if you're thinking that fear of 2016 will compel just enough Republicans to vote this amendment into the final Keystone bill, I'd say you shouldn't get your hopes up.
Here's the text of the amendment:
It is the sense of Congress that Congress is in agreement with the opinion of virtually the entire worldwide scientific community and a growing number of top national security experts, economists, and others that --There's enough in that for any Republican to find a reason to say no -- given how much Republican voters love fossil fuels and the slogan "Drill, baby, drill," I'd guess a vote against this amendment could be justified as a vote in favor of the domestic oil industry, with clause (4) being interpreted as hostile to workers in the oil patch.
(1) climate change is real;
(2) climate change is caused by human activities;
(3) climate change has already caused devastating problems in the United States and around the world; and
(4) it is imperative that the United States transform its energy system away from fossil fuels and toward energy efficiency and sustainable energy.
(And do I need to add that some center-right Democrats might vote no for the same reason?)
Oh, and while it's true that most Americans think climate change is real, please look at the numbers in this November 2013 Pew poll:
Yes, 67% of all U.S. adults think there's "solid evidence the earth is warming" -- but only 44% say for certain that it's "mostly because of human activity." Republicans who vote no on this amendment will be with the 56% who either don't believe or don't feel they know for sure.
So it'll be nice to have the vote on the record -- but it won't amount to much.