Climate talkathon ends after 14 hours

Senate Democrats spent more than 14 hours talking about the importance of climate change Monday night through Tuesday morning.

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Sens. Brian Schatz (Hawaii), Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.) and Barbara Boxer (Calif.) led the charge and more than 20 other Democrats participated, including members of leadership, in the Senate’s 35th all-night session.

“Climate change deniers still exist,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said at the beginning of the talkathon at 6:30 p.m. Monday. “They exist, I’m sorry to say, in this Congress. … Climate change exists and it’s time to stop denying it.”

Schatz and Whitehouse said Congress could reduce harmful effects of climate change if the United States relied less on fossil fuels.

“Climate change it real and climate change is caused by humans and climate change is solvable and we will not stop until Congress acts,” Schatz said.

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 at the beginning of the evening. “Well it’s not OK. It’s cruel.”

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

The Kentucky Republican, who is facing a difficult reelection race, also blasted billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer, who plans to funnel a reported $10 million into crucial races that could make or break Democrats in their fight to retain the Senate majority.

Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), who has authored a book claiming that climate change was the “biggest hoax” ever perpetrated on mankind, said Democrats didn’t have the votes to pass major legislation that could affect climate change, such as a carbon tax, which was why the administration was implementing more regulations.

“I know they’ll enjoy staying up all night and they’ll have an audience of themselves,” Inhofe said. “It’s been virtually impossible to pass a cap and trade bill.”

Whitehouse has said he wants to make climate change a major issue in the 2014 election.

Notably, vulnerable Democrats such as Sens. Kay Hagan (N.C.), Mary Landrieu (La.), Mark Begich (Alaska) and Mark Pryor (Ark.) didn’t participate in the all-nighter.

-- This report was updated at 9:54 a.m.