On Tuesday, Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) issued a statement saying that he will vote for the Murkowski resolution because it is “a vote for a strong West Virginia economy.” I don’t doubt Sen. Rockefeller’s commitment to West Virginians, but it’s simply appalling that the Chairman of the Senate Science Committee plans to vote the wrong way on a fundamental science issue.
No matter how many times supporters say otherwise, a vote for the Murkowski resolution of disapproval is a vote to deny climate science by overturning EPA’s science-based finding that global warming pollution is dangerous to Americans’ health and to their environment.
Of all people, Science Committee Chairman Rockefeller should know what’s wrong with denial of climate science. In fact, just a few years ago he took ExxonMobil to task for funding the climate change denial echo chamber. In a letter to Exxon’s incoming CEO, Sens. Rockefeller and Snowe wrote:
… we are persuaded that the climate change denial strategy carried out by and for ExxonMobil has helped foster the perception that the United States is insensitive to a matter of great urgency for all of mankind, and has thus damaged the stature of our nation internationally. It is our hope that under your leadership, ExxonMobil would end its dangerous support of the “deniers.”…
Indeed, while the group of outliers funded by ExxonMobil has had some success in the court of public opinion, it has failed miserably in confusing, much less convincing, the legitimate scientific community. Rather, what has emerged and continues to withstand the carefully crafted denial strategy is an insurmountable scientific consensus on both the problem and causation of climate change. Instead of the narrow and inward-looking universe of the deniers, the legitimate scientific community has developed its views on climate change through rigorous peer-reviewed research and writing across all climate-related disciplines and in virtually every country on the globe.
Sen. Rockefeller’s concern for the credibility of the United States was well founded then. He should be even more worried about the damage that voting for the Murkowski resolution would do now.
That damage would not be limited to our international reputation. Passing the Murkowski resolution would make the United States more dependent on oil and stall the comprehensive legislation we need to create clean energy jobs, cut pollution, and gain control of our energy situation.
Sen. Rockefeller knew this last year when he said:
The cost of inaction will be much worse than the impact on the economy of action. More importantly, action on climate change will produce new jobs and make our economy stronger.
No matter what happens, the Murkowski resolution will not become law given President Obama’s veto threat. Additional attempts at denial or delay are not the answer.
The only path forward for the United States, and for West Virginia, is to enact a comprehensive clean energy and climate plan that breaks our addiction to oil, limits global warming pollution, and invests in technology to capture carbon dioxide from power plants. With Senator Rockefeller’s help, such a law could be enacted this year.