Congress on wrong side of history in denying climate change
Reposted from The Hill and written by Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.) and John Abraham:
Right now in our hometown of St. Paul, Minnesota, we are preparing for what might possibly be record-breaking floods due to winter’s heavy snowfall and the threat of heavier spring downpours. Minnesota has already experienced two 100-year floods in the Red River Valley within the past 13 years. Local doctors report an increase in cases of children with asthma and other respiratory conditions. Lake Superior has seen record low water levels in recent years, threatening not only drinking water supplies but the Duluth-Superior port that receives more than 1,200 ships and 48 million tons of cargo.
All of these public health, economic, and environmental trends have been strongly linked to climate change. Multiple studies have shown that 97 percent of the most qualified climate scientists are in agreement that humans are causing the planet to warm. If this was an illness, and 97 percent of doctors recommended a certain treatment, we would take appropriate action.
Instead, the majority party in the House of Representatives is choosing to willfully defy the diagnosis and overturn established science by voting on a bill (H.R. 910) that will gut the Clean Air Act and prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from ever protecting the American people from the disastrous impacts of climate change.
During the committee markup of H.R. 910, not a single Republican voted to even acknowledge the validity of EPA’s scientific finding that “warming of the climate system is unequivocal,” caused by human activities, and a threat to public health. The rejection of those amendments is shocking to scientists who understand the serious risks Americans face from global climate change.
This places the climate deniers on the same side as those fringe extremists who denied the harmful impacts of cigarette smoking and DDT, and the causes of acid rain and ozone depletion. Proponents of H.R. 910 are denying science and dangerously on the wrong side of history.
We believe now is the time to confront climate change. If we act wisely, we can simultaneously protect the environment, create jobs, diversify our energy supplies, and improve national security.
A recent report by Pew Environment Group shows the U.S. has now fallen to number three behind China and Germany for clean energy private investment. Passage of H.R. 910 will guarantee America loses out on the jobs of the future by obstructing efforts to build the new clean energy economy. It will deepen America’s dependence on dirty coal and imported oil instead of creating American jobs through investments in renewable resources and energy efficiency.
Our country must turn the problems presented by climate change into an opportunity. Instead of devoting its time to discrediting scientists and undermining the EPA, Congress should put more faith in the genius of the American spirit to protect our environment and human health while creating economic growth. With the right clean energy incentives and framework, we believe America can out-innovate and out-build anyone in the world. The proponents of H.R. 910 not only deny climate change, they undermine America’s ability to find solutions that benefit consumers, workers and the environment.
Every single member of Congress has a choice: deny the science of climate change or take real steps to confront a changing climate. Congress must accept scientific reality and act on climate change.
Rep. Betty McCollum (D) represents Minnesota’s fourth congressional district. She serves on the House Appropriations and Budget Committees. Professor John Abraham is an associate professor of thermal sciences at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota.