Bloomberg News

Energy Week Ahead: Forecast Calls for Hot Climate-Change Debate

July 30, 2012

Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe will get a chance to cross-examine perpetrators of what he dubbed “The Greatest Hoax” this week, as a Senate panel takes on the science of climate change.

Inhofe, the top Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, published a book by that name this year, saying the scientific theory of global warming is a conspiracy to increase government regulation of business and the economy.

Carbon-dioxide emissions since the Industrial Revolution have led to a warming of the earth’s temperature, which threatens to cause extreme weather, drought and coastal flooding, according to the U.S. Global Change Research Program.

In Washington, at least, such science hasn’t prodded much action, after Senate negotiators tried and failed in 2010 to craft a bill to force companies to cut greenhouse-gas emissions. No measure to curb carbon-dioxide emissions advanced to the Senate for a vote.

Now, with the last 12 months the warmest on record worldwide and more than a third of the country declared a disaster area, climate change is inching its way back onto the agenda on Capitol Hill, where House Democrats are pushing the Republican majority to examine the issue.

The Senate environment committee is holding a hearing on Wednesday with researchers and officials scheduled to discuss the science behind changing temperatures and local efforts to adapt to warming weather.

Inhofe is unlikely to change his views. After news stories linking the recent heat wave and drought to climate change began appearing, Inhofe went to the Senate floor to rebut the “mainstream media’s attempt to drum up global-warming hysteria,” and labeled those scientists warning of warming as “alarmists.”

“The truth is that even when you ask an alarmist directly, they won’t specifically link the recent weather events to human activity,” Inhofe said.

With sentiments like that, the discussion might get pretty darn hot inside that hearing room.

ALSO WORTH WATCHING:

OFFSHORE DRILLING: Michael Bromwich, former head of the Interior Department’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, talks about regulating offshore drilling at the National Press Club in Washington on Aug. 3.

BATTLE OVER COAL: A House Energy subcommittee travels to Clairsville, Ohio, on Tuesday for a field hearing on the Obama administration’s regulation of the coal industry. There’s no secret about the tenor of the hearing, which the Republican-led panel labels “ The Green Agenda and the War on Coal.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Mark Drajem in Washington at mdrajem@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jon Morgan at jmorgan97@bloomberg.net


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