All-night Senate talkfest shines light on warming

Source: Jean Chemnick, E&E reporter • Posted: Monday, March 10, 2014

There are going to be a lot of red eyes in the Senate chamber tomorrow.
When votes are done for the evening tonight, more than half of the Senate’s Democrats will begin taking their turns occupying the chamber floor to talk about climate change. The all-night talkathon will stretch from last votes until 9 a.m. tomorrow and will feature at least 28 of the Senate’s 53 Democratic members.The event is part of the Senate Climate Action Task Force’s bid to spotlight the need for climate action, even though carbon legislation is not on the horizon.But while the two leaders of the task force, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), will be on hand tonight, the chamber’s younger Democrats are spearheading the event. Sen. Brian Schatz of Hawaii, its coordinator, does not plan to go to bed at all. He has roped Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey, Chris Murphy of Connecticut and Martin Heinrich of New Mexico into taking the unconverted time slots in the wee hours of the morning to give more senior members a chance to sleep, Schatz spokeswoman Meaghan Smith said Friday.

The evening will begin with remarks by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and other high-ranking Democrats. All participants will then have a chance to speak briefly, followed by lengthier statements by each that will stretch through the night.

The public is also encouraged to tweet their senators throughout the night using the hashtag #Up4Climate.

Schatz said in a statement Friday that tonight’s event would “show the growing number of senators who are committed to working together to confront climate change.”

As lieutenant governor of Hawaii before being appointed to the Senate, Schatz oversaw the so-called Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative — a public-private partnership aimed at boosting the Aloha State’s use of low-carbon power. Earlier this year, he co-authored a letter with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) criticizing network television for its scant coverage of climate change.

Dems take McConnell to task

In a related development, Whitehouse and his co-chairman of the Bicameral Task Force on Climate Change, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), took issue late Friday with an interview Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) had given expressing skepticism about global warming.

In an interview with¬†The Cincinnati Enquirer¬†published Friday, McConnell said, “For everybody who thinks it’s warming, I can find someone who thinks it isn’t.”

In response, Whitehouse and Waxman wrote a letter to McConnell offering to arrange a briefing for the Republican leader with leading climate scientists.

In their letter, the lawmakers called McConnell’s statements “inconsistent with the overwhelming scientific consensus,” and added, “you have a position of tremendous importance and influence on the nation’s environmental and energy policies. For that reason, we believe it is crucial that you are fully informed of the latest state of the science of climate change.”