Completing a transformation from speculative alarmism to scientific realism, the U.S. House of Representatives on April 6 rejected an amendment saying Congress accepts the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s claims “that climate change is occurring, is caused largely by human activities, and poses significant risks for public health and welfare.”
Rising Tide of Skepticism
Since global warming was first thrust on the political stage just over 20 years ago, proposed legislation to restrict carbon dioxide emissions was consistently rejected for reasons of economic hardship and lack of global fairness. President George W. Bush, for example, justified his opposition to the Kyoto Protocol by noting leading carbon dioxide emitters such as China and India were exempt from carbon dioxide restrictions, which would give those nations a competitive economic advantage over the United States. The political balance in Congress was long held by legislators asserting humans are causing a global warming problem but that proposed legislative solutions were too economically punitive or politically unworkable.
When Democrats took firm control of both houses of Congress after the 2008 elections, it was widely assumed Congress would pass legislation imposing significant restrictions on carbon dioxide emissions. With public opinion turning heavily against global warming legislation, however, the House struggled to pass the Waxman-Markey global warming bill by a mere seven votes in 2009, and the Senate failed to bring corresponding global warming legislation to a vote.
With a more balanced Congress after the 2010 elections, the House vote on April 6 of this year made it clear the House rejects EPA’s assertions that humans are causing a global warming problem that poses significant risks for public health.
The House vote is consistent with growing public skepticism toward alarmist global warming speculation. A March 2011 Gallup poll found 48 percent of Americans say the media “generally exaggerates” global warming, versus only 30 percent in 2006. Only 50 percent said humans are more responsible for recent global warming than natural forces. Only 32 percent said they think global warming will pose a serious threat in their lifetime.
EPA, IPCC Rebuffed
Christopher Horner, a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute in Washington, DC, said the House vote was a repudiation of EPA’s reliance on scientific findings by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Horner noted EPA itself said agency regulation would lead to “absurd results.”
“This vote was about whether the House thinks that effectively rewriting the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, in a way EPA admits produces ‘absurd results’ is the proper policy,” Horner said.
“In truth, each and every time Congress rejected cap-and-trade it rejected the very same rationalization for the scheme: Scientifically controversial IPCC reports to which EPA admitted it deferred,” Horner explained.
James M. Taylor ([email protected]) is managing editor of Environment & Climate News.