The GOP & Climate Skepticism

The climate of the climate debate has changed a lot over the past few years. Whereas the idea of global warming, much less warming caused by man, was once controversial, more and more politicians (Democrats and Republicans) are moving forward with the assumption that it is, indeed, real. But not everyone.

Grist's Kate Sheppard reports that House Republicans have brought a hearty portion of climate skepticism to congressional proceedings on the energy/emissions bill Democrats want to pass this year--"The earth will end only when God declares its time is over," Rep. John Shimkus of Illinois declared during one hearing--and have called witnesses to Energy and Commerce Committee hearings to testify that climate change is a scare. Add that to House Minority Leader John Boehner's (R-OH) comments on ABC's "This Week" yesterday, questioning the purported warming effect of CO2 emissions (while declaring climate change a "big problem" "an issue"), and you've got a portrait of the House GOP's skepticism.

There's no procedural reason why Democrats need to work with Republicans on the bill: they're in the majority, and they don't need GOP votes. While it's always unclear how willing a majority party is to incorporate minority ideas, Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA) has met with Republicans and circulated a discussion draft to gather input on the legislation. It seems that, insofar as their input is welcome, sticking by their climate-skeptical guns will limit the House GOP's input on what type of cap-and-trade system reaches President Obama's desk.