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Ed Markey's Posts

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In GOP-run House, has science left the building?

800px-United_States_Capitol_west_front_edit2I was optimistic when I began reading the Washington Post op-ed on climate change by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), current chairman of the House Science Committee. He began with a plea for a thoughtful and objective discussion of climate science. But like Lucy snatching the football away from Charlie Brown, he quickly dashed my hopes as he proceeded to provide a one-sided view of the state of climate science.

Rep. Smith neglected to acknowledge that the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and 18 U.S. professional scientific societies [PDF] agree that climate change is real and that carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases from human activities are now the primary driver of it. He also forgot to mention sea-level rise, which is already increasing the risk from every storm to coastal communities in Massachusetts and around the nation. There was no mention of the shift in rainfall patterns to more extreme downpours, or that the ocean’s chemistry is changing [PDF] as it warms up and absorbs carbon dioxide.

Hot and Bothered - small x  200
Susie Cagle
The extreme weather events of the past few years go unmentioned in Rep. Smith’s piece. Americans have watched homes engulfed by wildfires, crops decimated by drought, and infrastructure twisted like a pretzel during Superstorm Sandy. Last week, an analysis estimated that U.S. taxpayers paid a $96 billion bill for cleanup after climate-related disasters in 2012 alone. I recently launched a new House Natural Resources Democrats app that shows the costs of extreme weather, both in terms of dollars spent and lives lost.

Curiously, Rep. Smith’s climate piece ignores the global temperature records of NOAA and NASA that show 2010 as the hottest year on record since 1880, and the decade ending in 2009 as the hottest decade on record. He also ignores the results of the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature Study conducted by independent -- and formerly skeptical -- scientists who also found that global land temperatures have been increasing and that heat-trapping gases are driving that rise. Instead, he relies on a temperature record produced by U.K. scientists that he [PDF] and other Republicans have previously -- falsely, it turns out -- accused of conspiring to alter temperature data. Choosing the temperature record that best fits your argument, especially when it is from a group you questioned just a few years ago, hardly seems objective.

I would welcome, as Rep. Smith writes, a “legitimate evaluation of policy options” by Congress for dealing with climate change and its impacts. Indeed, it was my honor to lead then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, where we held more than 80 hearings and a rigorous bipartisan discussion on both climate science and climate solutions. Sadly, when Tea Party Republicans took control of the House in 2010, one of the very first things they did was eliminate the Select Committee.

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Deadly connection: New report on extreme weather and climate change

Climate change is having a steroidal effect on extreme weather. A summer featuring the hottest July on record in the continental United States punctuated a series of costly and deadly weather events.

This week, we released a new report, "Going to Extremes: Climate Change and the Increasing Risk of Weather Disasters" [PDF]. The report looks at the impacts of 2012’s record-breaking heat on agriculture, wildfires, storms, and water levels. The report found the links between extreme weather and climate to be abundant, robust, and well-documented in peer-reviewed scientific studies.

Here are a few highlights from our report:

Read more: Climate & Energy

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One year after the BP oil spill, dangers remain

A year ago, the American public, government regulators, and Gulf of Mexico families had been lulled into a false sense of security over the safety of offshore drilling and the ability of the oil industry to respond in the event of a severe spill. After years of systemic complacency and mismanagement by the U.S. government and the oil companies, weeks of poor decision-making on the part of BP and its partners in the ill-fated Macondo oil well, and a few moments of deadly horror one year ago on the Deepwater Horizon, everything known about deepwater drilling changed utterly. On the …

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Getting a second wind

Time to move like the wind to save clean energy

The proposed tax deal would kill 20,000 potential wind energy jobs.Photo: GrahamThe framework tax deal announced this week by President Obama and GOP leaders in the Senate threatens to kill jobs in one of the sectors our nation needs most -- clean energy. In its current form, the deal would allow the only effective federal support mechanism for renewable electricity to expire, killing the 20,000 wind energy jobs and 11,200 jobs in geothermal that would be created in 2011 and the 65,000 jobs in solar over the next two years. In addition, without an extension of the Renewable Energy Grant …

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End the addiction

We need a declaration of independence from foreign oil

This weekend, our nation will recognize its 234th birthday -- celebrating the freedom we have fought for since the first shots of the American Revolution were fired in the town of Lexington, Mass., in the heart of my congressional district. The great American experiment still has battles left to fight, freedoms we must achieve. The call of this generation is to finally achieve freedom from oil by moving to a clean energy future. Oil giant BP has created a gaping wound in the Gulf of Mexico, dumping 3.3 million barrels of oil into America's ocean.  This is now the largest …

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identical spins

Waking America from the BP nightmare

57 days ago, in the dead of night, the worst environmental nightmare in U.S. history began. The spill cam, requested by Congress, has brought the horror into homes across the country, as we watch tens of thousands of barrels of oil billowing into the Gulf every day. For years, the oil industry swore this could never happen. We were told that technology had advanced, that offshore drilling was safe. BP said they didn't think the rig would sink. It did. They said they could handle an Exxon Valdez-sized spill every day. They couldn't. BP said the spill was 1,000 barrels …

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Happy birthday

On the one year anniversary of the Recovery Act, clean energy leaders celebrate jobs and savings

The Recovery Act, a key component of America’s tectonic shift away from foreign oil, should be celebrated for what it has saved -- jobs, money and energy. By making smart investments in clean energy technology and cutting taxes for 95 percent of Americans, the Recovery Act kept America on track to double our renewable energy output. It also funded critical efficiency and weatherization projects that save families and small businesses money on their electricity bills. Manufacturing an End to Foreign Oil Admiring the VoltPrior to the Recovery Act, countries like China and South Korea controlled the market for advanced battery …

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This little light of mine

Student solar homes shining light toward the future

The public tours the international U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon, featuring energy-efficient, solar-powered houses built by 20 university teams from North American and Europe, on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 13.Photo: Stefano Paltera/U.S. Department of Energy Solar DecathlonI wanted to congratulate all the students who competed in the Solar Decathlon on the National Mall this month. The Solar Decathlon, a competition sponsored by the Department of Energy, brought together 20 teams of students from around the world who designed, engineered, and built solar-powered homes showcased in Washington, D.C. To see these energy-saving homes, and to hear …

Read more: Climate & Energy

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A modern-day Cassandra

Thoughts on the 20th anniversary of James Hansen’s historic Congressional testimony

In Greek mythology, Cassandra was given the gift of prophecy -- of seeing the future. But she was also cursed to have no one believe her. For far too many years, Dr. James Hansen has been a modern-day Cassandra. Gifted with a scientific training that allowed him to see the forces at work that are warming the planet, for too many years he was also not believed by many who chose to ignore or deny the scientific reality of global warming. Today, it is my pleasure to welcome Dr. James Hansen back to Capitol Hill on this 23rd of June …

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Fact checking the union: Clean energy and global warming

A closer look at the SOTU’s energy claims

Last night, as President Bush stepped to the well of the House floor to deliver his final State of the Union address, at least one thing was clear -- this president is a big fan of recycling. Unfortunately, I am not talking about the plastics and glass in my bottle bill, but the retooling of old rhetoric on global warming and our energy future. Here is my attempt to inject a little reality into the old Bush rhetoric rolled out in the State of the Union: Bush claim: "To build a future of energy security, we must trust in thecreative …