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Schatz helps organize all-night Senate session on climate change

By Matthew Daly

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 07:29 p.m. HST, Mar 10, 2014

WASHINGTON » It's a lot of hot air about a lot of hot air.

Democrats took to the Senate floor Monday night to talk about global warming and planned not to let up until morning. By midnight, lawmakers had been talking for nearly six hours.

Leading off the dusk-to-dawn talkathon, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., called climate change "a question of our own survival" and said the United States and other countries have a responsibility to act "before it is too late."

At least 28 senators were expected to participate. But several Democrats who face tough re-election fights in the fall opted to skip the session. Sens. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Kay Hagan of North Carolina, Mark Pryor of Arkansas and Mark Begich of Alaska were among them.

Democratic leaders have no plans to bring a climate bill to the Senate floor this year, so the speeches were little more than theatrics. House Democrats pushed through a bill to limit greenhouse gas emissions blamed for global warming in 2009, then lost their majority the following election.

A climate bill led by then-Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry collapsed in 2010 without a vote in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, one of the organizers, said the all-night session showed that a growing number of senators are committed to working together to confront climate change.

"Climate change is real, it is caused by humans, and it is solvable," Schatz said.

But Sen. James Inhofe, an Oklahoma Republican who has written a book denouncing global warming as "the greatest hoax," said Democrats would not convince anyone with their stunt.

"They'll have an audience of themselves, so I hope they enjoy it," Inhofe said. Indeed, he was one of only a few Republicans who engaged in the debate. None sided with Democrats.

Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., retorted that Democrats had received two separate petitions urging them to act, with a total of about 100,000 signatures.

"The American people are listening," Boxer said. "They care." 

She added that the event should "wake up Congress to the dangers of climate change."

Boxer and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., lead the recently launched Senate Climate Action Task Force, which organized the session.

Whitehouse said the session was needed to highlight obstacles to climate legislation, including ads financed by Charles and David Koch, conservative activists who have spent $15 million on Senate races, mostly criticizing Democrats over Obamacare. The Koch brothers, whose interests include oil, chemicals, textiles and paper, have also spent millions on ads critical of action against climate change.

Whitehouse conceded that lawmakers do not have the 60 votes needed to act on the matter, even in the Democratic-controlled Senate, but said the speeches could help change the dynamic.

"Tonight is not about a specific legislative proposal," he said. "It's about showing the environmental community, young people and anyone paying attention to climate change that the Senate is starting to stir and we want to get some actions going."

The episode followed overnight speeches last year by Republicans Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Ted Cruz of Texas. Paul criticized U.S. drone policy, while Cruz pushed to take money away from the new health care law.

While some Democratic senators weren't on board, Whitehouse said the major differences in the debate are between the two parties.

"There are no climate (change) deniers in the Senate Democratic caucus," he said. "There may be a divergence of views on what the appropriate solution is, but nobody is out there pretending this isn't real (or) that this is a hoax."

White House spokesman Jay Carney praised the participants for bringing attention to "a very important subject that the president is concerned about." He cited a climate action plan announced by Obama last year. 

The plan would impose the first-ever limits on carbon pollution from new and existing power plants, as well as boost renewable energy production on federal lands and increase energy efficiency standards.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said the talkathon amounted to "30 hours of excuses" from senators who think it's OK that "families are losing work because of government attacks on the coal industry."

"Well it's not OK, it's cruel," McConnell said, speaking on the Senate floor before the talkathon began. "It's cruel to tell struggling coal families that they can't have a job because some billionaire from San Francisco disagrees with their line of work."

McConnell was referring to Tom Steyer, a former hedge-fund manager and environmentalist who says he will spend $100 million — $50 million of his own money and $50 million from other donors — to make climate change a top-tier issue in the 2014 elections. Steyer spent millions to help pass a California ballot measure to boost spending on energy efficiency programs and help elect Democrats Terry McAuliffe as Virginia governor and Edward Markey as U.S. senator from Massachusetts.

"We hope that by standing up all night to talk about climate, that tomorrow will signal a new dawn," Markey said.

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pcman wrote:
As a geography major, BA and MA, I believe climate change is inevitable, but it will take centuries to affect the earth environments as we know it. Climate change will not be caused by man's activities but by changes in the flow of air and water currents around the globe which could be affected by shifts of solar and lunar actions and change in the earth's magnetic fields. I believe geophysical changes like shifts in the earth's crust that causes earthquakes, tidal waves and the rise and fall of land masses and islands are needed to upset the earth environment so badly that people will suffer. Unfortunately, man will not be able to stop them whenever and wherever they occur. I have just stated the obvious and they are already happening. Man has nothing to do with them.
on March 10,2014 | 08:55PM
droid wrote:
Exactly! No one disputes that human-initiated carbon emissions contribute to global warming, but are but a tiny fraction of the cause — in contrast to the lion’s share: NATURE. While I respect U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz on many issues, clearly, this stunt is not a gold star on his record.
on March 11,2014 | 12:13AM
bsbsbs wrote:
Out of an estimated 1,500 active volcanoes around the world, 50 or so erupt every year, spewing steam, ash, toxic gases, and lava. Volcanoes and the SUN contribute the most to climate change; man's contributions are not even measurable. Brian's Schatz's IQ is now questionable.
on March 11,2014 | 01:09PM
st1d wrote:
the earth's orbit around the sun produces the most notable climate changes, spring, summer, fall and winter. very little that man can do to influence the earth's orbit or the sun's production of heat and radiation.
on March 11,2014 | 03:19PM
Anonymous wrote:
What a waste of Hot Air.
on March 10,2014 | 09:15PM
Anonymous wrote:
Publicity stunt in an election year. Brian given a chance to grandstand by his senior Senate handlers. If you're serious, pass some freaking legislation. Don't hold a slumber party...did you make s'mores?
on March 10,2014 | 09:17PM
serious wrote:
Exactly, why not talk about the inequity of the Jones Act that has Hawaii and Alaska subsidizing the ship building industry while the other 48 states share the benefits and give those two states the highest cost of living in the USA. Senator--you are supposed to support your state's citizens not hock them for the shipping monopoly!!
on March 11,2014 | 05:26AM
Ronin006 wrote:
Schatz said "Climate change is real, it is caused by humans, and it is solvable." That may be true, but here is another truism of much greater urgency than questionable climate change: The nation’s $13 trillion debt is real, it was caused by politicians, and it is solvable. There is no question about that.
on March 11,2014 | 08:29AM
st1d wrote:
this is the new church of environmentalism. no science needed, just an unfailing belief in power and the ability to consolidate it using global warming as a convenient vehicle.

the computer models, carefully crafted and tricked up, used by the high priests of this new religion are so unreliable due to unwieldily large numbers of variables, known and unknown, are laughably imprecise.

it is clear, however, that progressives are using this hoax to gain control of the economy and energy sources to redirect wealth into their industries, politicians and outcome biased experts.

on March 10,2014 | 10:57PM
Dimbulb wrote:
The big question is, who listened to these idiots? They stand in the Senate chambers and give their speech. The only other people there is the cameraman. It is just a stunt.
on March 11,2014 | 05:21AM
KailuaKowboy wrote:
This falls perfectly in line with what I have come to expect from Schatz. A bunch of talk and no action. Is there no specific legislation he is supporting? Why not bring the Presidents Climate Change agenda to the floor? This guy is a joke. Not to mention he said he voted for that budget deal and everything was going to be fine because of it. He cut my retirement, vets retirement, medicare, etc. Now Hawaii has lost hundreds of millions of dollars in the budget because of it. All talk, no action, bad for Hawaii, get him out of there.
on March 11,2014 | 05:47AM
Keith_Rollman wrote:
Theater of the absurd.
on March 11,2014 | 07:29AM
Keith_Rollman wrote:
The unprovable, espoused by the unreliable, for the purposes of enriching the unscrupulous. Unreal.
on March 11,2014 | 07:31AM
loquaciousone wrote:
Did Bryan bring the pupu or the beer?
on March 11,2014 | 08:03AM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
Are you kidding? This is Schatz we are talking about. His idea of an all nighter is a sleepover with footie pajamas, forts built with blankets, cocoa and read aloud Garanimals books. After bath time they all have a group snuggle fest, except for Maizie who as usual was already asleep.
on March 11,2014 | 09:38AM
Ronin006 wrote:
Schatz said "Climate change is real, it is caused by humans, and it is solvable." That may be true, but here is another truism of much greater urgency than questionable climate change: The nation’s $13 trillion debt is real, it was caused by politicians, and it is solvable. There is no question about that.
on March 11,2014 | 08:28AM
Ronin006 wrote:
Schatz said "Climate change is real, it is caused by humans, and it is solvable." That may be true, but here is another truism of much greater urgency than questionable climate change: The nation’s $13 trillion debt is real, it was caused by politicians, and it is solvable. There is no question about that.
on March 11,2014 | 08:29AM
bsbsbs wrote:
No more speculation needed; Schatz has proved he's a fool.
on March 11,2014 | 01:04PM
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