Senate Dems launch climate talkathon

The Senate Democratic talkathon on climate change began Monday night with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) saying he was sorry to report that climate change deniers existed in this Congress.

“Climate change deniers still exist,” Reid said on the Senate floor. “They exist, I’m sorry to say, in this Congress. … Climate change exists and it’s time to stop denying it.”

Reid's comments began an all-night session in which Senate Democrats are hoping to call attention to the issue of climate change.

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Sens. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) are leading the charge, but more than 20 other Democrats participated right off the bat, including members of leadership.

“If you went to 100 doctors and 98 of them said you were sick and should take medicine but two told you that you were find, what would you do?” Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said, citing the ratio of scientists that believe climate change is real. “Climate change deniers need to wake up. … It’s time to take action.”

Reid praised his home state for pioneering new energy sources such as geothermal and solar.

“It’s easy to see the urgency to confront climate change,” Reid said. “We have the ability now to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. … We have the ability to chose the kind of world we can live in.”

Earlier Monday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Democrats’ attack on fossil fuels was “cruel” to his constituents.

“Families are losing work because of government attacks on the coal industry. Communities are hurting and tonight you’re going to hear 30 hours of excuses from a group of people who think that’s ok,” McConnell said. “Well it’s not ok. It’s cruel.”

McConnell and other Republicans have accused President Obama of waging a “war on coal” by ordering the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to regulate carbon emissions at coal power plants.