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Safe Climate Caucus Pumps Up Advocacy and Action

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When I first wrote about the Safe Climate Caucus, they were new on the scene.

Last year, the agenda of the Safe Climate Caucus was to have a member of the House of Representatives speak daily on the impact of climate change. Now, with new members on board, they are taking the social media track with weekly videos on YouTube and blogs on Huffington Post Green.

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) has spearheaded the caucus, with 35 members committed to working on the issue. He has been a driving force in calling out the House Republicans on their recalcitrance, both verbally and by documenting it in papers about anti-environmental legislation. He has also been clear about the logistics and moral choice of moving forward with the XL Pipeline, underscoring his hope that the contentious debate with be finalized with a "No" from President Obama. His bottom line is, "Our group is about speaking truth to power." Waxman, who will be retiring after this congressional session, has been a leader in the fight for environmental legislation, since the days of President Ford.

The attitude of Republicans to climate change concerns has been referenced as "intentional ignorance." Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX), who hails from Texas, has spoken of the "special responsibility" that he feels coming from his state. He said, "Texas leads in green house gas production and perhaps in climate change denial." Texas also has a coastline that is "receding." Rep. Doris Matsui (D-CA), whose home turf has been experiencing droughts and fires has related that her grandchildren have asked her quizzically, "What's happening?"

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We need more people to pose these questions and challenge their elected officials on what they are doing to be part of the solution-- rather than part of the problem. A look at how your elected officials are responding can be found at the League of Conservation Voters. They just released a 2013 National Environmental Scorecard. The graphics tells a familiar story. On climate change safeguards, Rep. James Inhofe (R-OK) sponsored an amendment that would gut funding put in place to ensure that federal agencies had the power to curb greenhouse gas emissions"not especially surprising from a representative with an LCV Lifetime pro-environment score of 5 percent.

I reached out to Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) for his thoughts on why the continuous argument from Republicans on environmental safeguards pulls the "economic" card. He responded via e-mail:

"The threat of climate change is increasingly clear. However, it presents opportunities for innovation and economic growth in areas like renewable energy, energy efficiency, and severe weather mitigation. We cannot afford to be outpaced by other countries, like China, in these emerging industries. The Safe Climate Caucus will continue to highlight the importance of this issue and advocate for immediate action in the Congress."

Secretary of State John Kerry recently delivered a powerful speech about the ramifications of climate change, putting it in the same category of global threats as "terrorism"and the proliferation of mass destruction." Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich lost no time in mocking Kerry with comments suggesting he was "delusional."

Waxman and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) responded with a letter to both men with a primer on why they were so far off the mark. One of the points included the statement from Admiral John Nathan, former Commander of the U.S. Fleet Forces. He said, "There are serious risks to doing nothing about climate change.  We can pay now or we're going to pay more later ."

If you can't get Republicans to heed the warnings of those in the military, you have to wonder what will make a dent in their consciousness.

Image: Courtesy of the Congressional Safe Climate Caucus

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This article originally appeared on the website Moms Clean Air Force

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Marcia G. Yerman is a writer, activist, artist and curator based in New York City. Her articles--profiles, interviews, reporting and essays--focus on women's issues, the environment, human rights, the arts and culture. Her writing has been (more...)

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