Democrats Push for Climate Change Bills Similar to Biden’s Proposals
WASHINGTON — Congressional Democrats used a hearing on climate change Thursday to advocate for pending clean energy bills that would revamp a big swath of federal regulations.
Record-setting wildfires in western states and hurricanes along the Gulf Coast are adding to the fervor for aggressive environmental legislation.
“We are witnessing the devastating effects of climate change right now,” said Rep. Harley Rouda, D-Calif., chairman of the House Oversight and Reform subcommittee on environment.
Some Republicans cautioned against regulations that could hurt the economy, characterizing them as occasionally misguided.
Rouda said about 2.5 million acres have burned in his home state of California while Death Valley recorded a 130-degree temperature this summer, the third highest in world history.
He quoted a Trump administration environmental report that predicts a 10% decrease in the gross national product by 2100 if current climate trends continue.
A half-dozen bills would address different climate issues, such as rising sea levels, greenhouse gases, auto emissions and energy inefficient buildings.
Many of the proposals are summarized in a Senate report released this week that calls on Congress to spend at least 2% of annual U.S. gross domestic product on climate improvement.
Although most of them stand little chance of winning approval in the current session of Congress, they give a glimpse of policies that presidential candidate Joe Biden said he would follow if he wins the Nov. 3 election.
Rouda said slowing climate change does not require costly financial sacrifices. Instead, well-planned environmental policies could create jobs and other benefits.
“Action on climate makes good economic sense,” Rouda said.
The alternative is inaction that creates long-term environmental damage extending into future generations, he said.
“Will they tell us that we let them down?” Rouda asked.
Rep. Mark Green, R-Tenn., advised against rushing into regulations guided by hysteria.
“What we cannot do, though, is resort to fear tactics,” Green said.
A better option could be research into developing clean and inexpensive energy, he said.
“It’s important also for a robust economy,” Green said.
Republicans drew evidence for their recommendations against a hasty response from Kevin Dayaratna, a statistician at the conservative Heritage Foundation.
He said many of the predictions of rising temperatures from global warming reflect political opinions of the scientists who report them.
“Their assumptions can be easily manipulated,” Dayaratna said.
A recent World Economic Forum report said one scenario anticipates a 4-degree rise in global temperatures by 2100, forcing millions of people to migrate to cooler climates while increasing the ravages of wildfires, hurricanes, drought and rising sea levels.
Dayaratna said policymakers who rely on suspicious figures might propose unreasonable laws and regulations.
“They will change the quality of life,” he said but have little impact on climate improvement.