Sen. Boxer announces plans to form ‘climate change caucus’

Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) said Tuesday that she’s forming a “climate change caucus,” and argues that Hurricane Sandy “changed a lot of minds” on the topic.

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The move signals that Democrats might again be ready to aggressively promote bills to curb greenhouse gas emissions, even as the political prospects for global warming legislation remain remote in Congress.

“I am going to form a climate change caucus, because people are coming up to me, they really want to get into this. I think Sandy changed a lot of minds,” Boxer told reporters in the Capitol.

“It is going to work with all the committees and all the committee chairmen to make sure we can move forward legislation that reduces carbon pollution and also works on mitigation and all of the other elements,” she said.

Boxer and some other Democrats are already seeking measures to improve coastal resilience to storms such as Sandy; many scientists say climate change is making weather events more dangerous.

But Boxer also indicated that Democrats might also push measures to address greenhouse gas emissions head-on, although she did not provide specifics.

A cap-and-trade bill narrowly passed the House, then controlled by Democrats, in 2009. But even a scaled-back version collapsed in the Senate in 2010 without ever coming up for a vote.

“I think you are going to see a lot of bills on climate change,” Boxer told reporters. “I don’t know whether [they will include] cap-and-trade, but there will be a lot of different bills. I have already spoken to three colleagues that have bills in the works,” she said.

Boxer said she was hopeful that Republicans would participate.

“We are sending out feelers,” she said.