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Volume 87 Issue 30 | p. 12 | News of The Week
Issue Date: July 27, 2009

Senate Takes Up Climate Change

Two committees consider impact on jobs and global instability
Department: Government & Policy | Collection: Climate Change
News Channels: Environmental SCENE
Keywords: Climate Change, Senate, national security, carbon dioxide
Boxer and Kerry have been pushing for climate-change legislation for years.
Credit: Patrick D. McDermott/UPI/Newscom
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Boxer and Kerry have been pushing for climate-change legislation for years.
Credit: Patrick D. McDermott/UPI/Newscom

A pair of Senate hearings last week focused on jobs, national security, and carbon dioxide as senators continued to debate provisions in a House-passed bill on climate change. Six committees have jurisdiction over the bill, and two of them dug deeper into issues related to climate change on July 21.

Senate Environment & Public Works Committee Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) began her committee’s hearing on jobs by stressing climate-change legislation’s potential to develop new clean technologies and create millions of jobs. The committee heard from state and local leaders who have created agencies to support new industries and generate so-called green jobs.

However, several Republican committee members, namely Sens. Kit S. Bond (Mo.) and James M. Inhofe (Okla.), expressed their doubts about job creation. They said green jobs simply shift employment away from other sectors, and they warned that clean industries need too much government support, making such green jobs expensive.

On the same day, Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, began his committee’s hearing on security by emphasizing the global military threat of climate change, pointing to a study by former top-ranking military leaders who called climate change a “threat multiplier” with the potential to create sustained natural and humanitarian disasters (C&EN, April 23, 2007, page 8).

Supporting Kerry were several military experts, including John W. Warner, a former Navy secretary and for 30 years a Republican senator from Virginia.

Warner urged deeper military and intelligence community involvement in drafting climate-change legislation, arguing that a bill should spell out roles for the Department of Defense and intelligence agencies. Responding to the chaos that could result from climate change would add new missions for the military, he added.

Warner also called for quick international action to cut CO2 emissions and warned of global instability from climate change—droughts, sea-level rise, storms, pestilence, agricultural shifts, and resulting “water wars, crop failures, famine, disease, mass migration, and destruction of vital infrastructure.”

Senate leadership aims to have a bill completed by late September. In the House, legislation squeaked through last month on a 219 to 212 vote (C&EN, July 6, page 8).

 
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