Voters Want Action on Climate Change, Congress Rejects It In Latest Votes

At a time when Americans are showing concern again about climate change and want action from government, Congress still moves in the opposite direction, passing bills that prevent action.

A new poll shows that undecided voters want President Obama and Congress to take action on climate change and that it will influence who they vote for. 

64% say they want Obama to do more and 72% say Congress should do more, according to a joint Yale University/George Mason University survey. And a majority – 55% – say the candidates’ views on climate will be important in determining who they vote for.

61% percent of likely Obama voters want him to do more and 78% want more action from Capitol Hill. Only 35% of likely voters for Romney want him and Congress to do more.

80% of undecided voters believe climate change is happening, compared to 86% of likely Obama voters and 45% of likely Romney voters.

65% of likely Obama voters and undecided voters say humans are causing global warming, compared to 27% of likely Romney voters.

In the House 

Last week, House Republicans passed H.R. 3409, the "Stop the War on Coal Act" 233-175, which supposedly counters the Obama Administration’s hostility to coal jobs. 

Among many pro-polluter issues, it again blocks EPA from regulating greenhouse gas regulations.

Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) added an amendment to the bill to  introduce a national Renewable Electricity Standard, which would require utilities to source a percentage of energy from clean energy, starting with 8% and increasing to 50% in the years 2035-2040. It was debated for 10 minutes, after which an informal vote defeated it. Markey asked for a formal vote, which the chairman postponed for an indeterminate amount of time. 

A national Renewable Energy Standard is widely viewed as among the most effective ways to quickly transition to clean energy.

A vast majority of Americans – 76% – want the U.S. to move to a sustainable energy future by "reducing our reliance on nuclear power, natural gas and coal, and instead, launch a national initiative to boost renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Leonard Boswell (D-IA) both offered amendments to renew the renewable energy production tax credit (PTC), but those too were rejected. They didn’t even come up for a vote.

Democrats have been attaching amendments to renew the PTC wherever they can in an effort to prevent it from expiring December 31.

Markey attached it to the "No More Solyndras Act," but it was defeated 175-234.

In the Senate

In a flurry of activity, the Senate passed about 40 bills and resolutions at 3:30 AM on Saturday before adjourning for the November elections. 

Passed by unanimous consent, they span a very wide range of issues, from the Safe Doses Act (H.R.4223) to the Mark Twain Commemorative Coin Act (H.R.2453).

One of the bills that passed (S.1956) explicitly prohibits US airlines from participating in the Europeans Union’s cap-and-trade program. Airlines supported the bill.

In January, the EU added the airline industry to the list of industries that are required to pay for (or trade) the carbon emissions they produce. Airlines must participate when they fly in and out of Europe, but the US, China and other countries have been fighting it, saying EU laws shouldn’t apply to foreign carriers.

John Thune (R-SD), who sponsored the measure, says it sends a "strong message" to the EU that it can’t impose taxes on the US. "The Senate’s action today will help ensure that US air carriers and passengers will not be paying down European debt through this illegal tax and can instead be investing in creating jobs and stimulating our own economy."

The House previously passed the measure, making it likely to pass Congress.

The Senate bill gives the US Department of Transportation (DOT) the authority to stop US airlines from complying with the EU law, which most of them are planning to do. It gives the DOT the option to reconsider the prohibition if an international agreement on aviation emissions supercedes the EU law, or if the US implements its own cap-and-trade program.

The EU has said all along that it would prefer an international treaty, but is moving ahead in its absence. European Climate Commissioner, Connie Hedegaard, says she doubts the US would agree to a global treaty.

"The Senate bill calls for the U.S. to go for a global deal to address aviation emissions," Hedegaard told Bloomberg. "I agree. This is what the EU has always been fighting for. But it’s not enough to say you want it, you have to work hard to get it done."

Starting next year, airlines, which have been allotted free allowances for 85% of emissions, would have to surrender the amount equal to the emissions created while they were iin Europe during 2012. 

The cap would reduce airline industry emissions 3% in 2012 and 5% from 2013-2020, the equivalent of taking 30 million cars off the road a year, according to the European Commission. It would add about $6 to the price of a round-trip trans-Atlantic flight, about the same price passengers are already charged for carrying luggage.

The industry is one of the fastest-growing sources of greenhouse gases – doubling emissions over the past 20 years.

Learn more about the EU avaition emissions plan:

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Comments on “Voters Want Action on Climate Change, Congress Rejects It In Latest Votes”

  1. sandcanyongal

    United States citizens never quit being critically concerned about moving our country to one of sustainability, but Congress doesn’t care, obviously. We all witnessed their “unanimous vote” against airlines paying into EU for the severe pollution causd by airplane fuel. The time is here to dump every single of those bribed legislators. Between Congress and the giant vendors, they don’t care if they heat the atmosphere to the point where we all die. They should be treated like the scum of the earth.

  2. mememine69

    What hole does this so called journalist live in?
    *Occupywallstreet does not even mention CO2 in its list of demands because of the bank-funded carbon trading stock markets run by corporations.
    *Obama has not mentioned the crisis in the last two State of the Unions addresses.
    *Julian Assange is of course a climate change denier.
    *Canada killed Y2Kyoto with a freely elected climate change denying prime minister and nobody cared, especially the millions of scientists warning us of unstoppable warming (death).

  3. Al Bore

    REAL planet lovers are happy, not disappointed any climate crisis was exaggerated and not real.
    Find me one single IPCC warning that isn’t peppered with “maybes”. Science has never said any crisis WILL happen, only might happen and could happen even though these very same scientists say we are “maybe” at the edge of no return. What does it take to say it “WILL” happen?
    We all agree on pollution, but condemning billions of children to the greenhouse gas ovens for 26 years of needless panic was a war crime. History is watching the madness of “climate control”.

  4. Lambda is 3

    Perhaps this summer’s droughts, fires, floods, heat waves – across the globe – along with the unprecedented loss of Arctic sea ice this summer and increasing observations of Arctic ocean methane releases; perhaps these have gotten citizens’ attention. Now, the politicians need to pull their heads out of their lobbyists’ um…. you know…. long enough to listen to their constituents and get the message.


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