House Republicans are blocking Democrats’ push for a hearing on the extreme weather that has ravaged the nation, from record heatwaves to severe storms.
The move highlights the the extent to which denial of the scientific consensus on man-made climate change has become Republican orthodoxy, even in the face of mounting evidence to the contrary.
In a letter (PDF) sent last Friday to their Republican counterparts, Reps. Henry Waxman (D-CA), the ranking member of the Energy & Commerce Committee, and Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL), the ranking member of the E&C subcommittee on energy and power, made what they counted as their 15th effort to hold a hearing into the matter.
“Specifically, we request that you hold a hearing on the recent wildfires and extreme weather events the United States has experienced and the role global climate change played in these events,” wrote Waxman and Rush. They cited statistics detailing the unusually severe heat wave, droughts, wildfires, storms and floods that have struck the nation this year, pointing to scientific findings that climate change played a role in them.
A new report by the National Climatic Data Center determined that the odds of this year’s extreme weather being a fluke — as opposed to the consequence of manmade carbon dioxide emissions — are extremely low.
“Willful ignorance of the science is irresponsible and it is dangerous,” the Democrats wrote.
Late Monday, Karen Lightfoot, a spokesperson for Democrats on the committee, told TPM that Republicans “have not yet responded to our letter.”
A committee spokesperson for Energy & Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) told TPM that Republicans had already addressed the issue in a March 2011 hearing.
“The committee held a hearing last year to examine related issues including extreme weather events, patterns of warming, and the attribution of climate change to human activity,” the aide said. “With 41 consecutive months of higher than 8 percent unemployment, the committee’s focus continues to be on jobs and promoting commonsense solutions that protect both the environment and the economy.”
Sahil Kapur is a congressional reporter for TPM. He previously covered politics and public policy for numerous publications including The Guardian and The Huffington Post. He can be reached at sahil [at] talkingpointsmemo.com.