Wyoming Lawmakers Don't Care About The Climate Report

Nov 17, 2017

Credit Stephanie Joyce

Every four years the federal government is required to release a report on the world’s changing climate and this year's was the most comprehensive report since Congress mandated it. It states there’s “no convincing alternative explanation” to climate change other than that humans are the cause. The report is the work of more than a dozen federal agencies, but Rhode Island Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehouse says the political appointees in the Trump administration have buried their heads in tar sands.

“But this administration’s industry hacks are not paying attention and instead of helping they’re out busily doing things like deleting the words climate change from agency websites.”

But when Wyoming Senator John Barrasso was asked him about that report, he refused to comment on its content.

“Well, I also know the report that came out yesterday that said emissions in China are expected to go up and up and up. And emissions in the United States are going down and down and down. So we have done so much.”

Barrasso is head of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. He recently held a hearing entitled Promoting American Leadership in Reducing Air Emissions Through Innovation where he tried to steer clear of climate change.  

“The development of innovative drilling methods has allowed domestic oil and gas producers to economically access natural gas – a low emitting fuel. The development of new technologies has consistently reduced our emissions, grown our energy and improved how we use our resources.”

Leaders from around the globe are meeting in Bonn, Germany to discuss the Paris Climate Accord. President Trump sent just 48 U.S. representatives, which is far fewer than President Obama used to send. But American governors, mayors, university scientists and major corporations attended to try to signal that the U.S. isn’t sitting on the sidelines, even if Trump pulled out of the Paris Accord. But now that Syria has joined the accord, Democrats, like Virginia Congressman Gerry Connolly, say the U.S. is making itself irrelevant as the only UN member trying to pull out of the deal.

“Humiliating. But it’s anything but making America great again to be the sole nation on earth that does not recognize the human contribution to global warming and does not commit, as a matter of treaty obligation – and it’s the one issue that’s brought every nation together.”

As for climate change, Wyoming Congresswoman Liz Cheney says it’s happening, but she doesn’t blame human activity.  

“There’s no question that the climate is changing. Our state of Wyoming clearly we wouldn’t have the resources we have, we wouldn’t have coal for example, if the climate hadn’t changed significantly. That’s the source of all fossil fuels.”

The U.S. military has called climate change a national security threat, because some U.S. bases are at risk of flooding while they’ll also be tasked with doing more humanitarian missions in countries impacted by rising seas. But Cheney doesn’t want to spend money on combatting what the federal government says is causing the problem, namely, human activity.

“We need to be focused on lethality for the military, we need to be focused on making sure that they have the very best, that we modernize, that they’ve got the resources they need to defend us, not in particular on renewable energy standards, for example.”

The EPA’s Scott Pruitt has received a lot of flak for what critics say is gutting the agency, but over at the Energy Department, Secretary Rick Perry is working to rewrite the government’s stance on coal. He’s trying to reward coal and nuclear power because he says they’re stable resources of energy during say a flood or an ice storm. But even some Republicans, like Pennsylvania’s Ryan Costello, says the administration is going backwards in terms of energy policy.

“So why are we trying to apply energy policy that might have made sense 20 years ago and retrofit it now. We’re trying to retrofit it yesterday into today. That doesn’t make sense to me. And so to me that’s I think actually there’s even a larger story on as it relates to energy policy with what he’s trying to do than what’s Pruitt trying to do.”

But Cheney agrees with Perry, Pruitt and the Trump White House.  

“Coal is certainly going to be part of the mix for a very long time to come, and it’s one of the things we’ve been working hardest on since the president was elected and sworn in and since we’ve been here, is making sure the playing field is level, that we’re getting rid of the regulations targeted at killing the coal industry.”  

While it may be a new day for coal and other fossil fuels in the U.S., Democrats, and environmentalists fear it’s also a new day for the U.S. on the global stage. That’s why they’re begging Republicans to read the federal government’s very own climate assessment and to act on that, not just what’s become party orthodoxy.