The House of Representatives has passed a pair of resolutions meant to scuttle an Obama administration carbon emissions reduction plan, and intended to undermine international climate treaty negotiations under way in Paris.
The Republican members of the Rochester and Finger Lakes region House delegation should be ashamed of their votes. (The roll for the first resolution is available here
, the second here
). Representatives Chris Collins, Tom Reed, and John Katko voted for the measure; Reed has signed on to fellow New York Republican Chris Gibson's resolution calling for federal action on climate change, and his vote is a disappointment. (Gibson, who represents some Downstate and Southern Tier counties, voted for a resolution striking down emissions limits for existing power plants, but against the resolution which would have eliminated emissions standards for new power plants.)
Democratic Representative Louise Slaughter missed the vote because she was sick with a cold, her spokesperson says. Slaughter did submit a statement for the Congressional Record, and sent out this statement to the press:
The ice sheets are melting, seas are rising, oceans are becoming more acidic, and the atmosphere is full of more climate-changing pollution than at any time in the last 800,000 years. The earth – humanity’s only home – is changing before our very eyes yet Republicans are doubling down on the dirty fossil fuel pollution of the past instead of taking advantage of the opportunity to develop a sustainable, clean energy future.
Instead of helping our energy innovators to lead a renewable energy revolution that tackles climate change while creating good-paying, clean-energy jobs, Congressional Republicans want to take us backward with costly reductions in energy efficiency and policies that promote more air pollution around our homes, playgrounds, and parks. The American people are clamoring for a Congress that confronts the great challenge posed by climate change, yet this Republican majority continues to ignore science while doling out favors to the big corporations that fund their campaigns. The American people deserve and need better.
Obama has said he'll veto these bills, but there's a good chance they've already done some damage. The president is in Paris, trying to convince other countries that Americans are committed to reducing carbon emissions and addressing climate change. But the GOP resolutions undermine that message; they tell world leaders that powerful people in the country don't take the issue seriously. World leaders want to see the US lead on climate, and powerful Republicans are basically sticking their tongues out at the global community.
And let's not forget the reason that Obama used his executive authority to establish carbon emissions limits: because Congress has been told repeatedly over two decades that climate change is a real, serious problem, and its failed to pass any legislation to address it.
This post has been updated with a correction and a clarification.