Dem: GOP the 'party of science deniers'

The Republican Party is the “party of science deniers,” a top House Democrat said Monday.

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), an ardent proponent of climate-change legislation, criticized Republicans for their attempts to block the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from regulating greenhouse gas emissions during a speech at the Center for American Progress Monday.

“I’ve never been in a Congress where there was such an overwhelming disconnect between science and policy,” Waxman, the former chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said.

“Republicans in Congress have become the party of science deniers, and that is profoundly dangerous,” he said.

Waxman lamented the growing divide between liberal Democrats and Republicans on climate change, accusing the GOP of ignoring the consensus among scientists that human activity is contributing to warming.

“The gulf between what science tells us and what the governing party in the House believes makes it difficult to find common ground,” he said, adding later, “The Republican party is increasingly the anti-environment party.”

Waxman’s comments come as Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee are preparing to mark up legislation that would permanently eliminate EPA’s climate authority. The legislation, which was officially introduced last week in both the House and the Senate, has won the support of four Democrats.

Waxman acknowledged Monday that House Democrats can do little to stop Republicans, who now have a majority in the chamber, from passing such legislation.

“We will lose a vote in committee. We may even lose a vote on the House floor,” he said.

But Waxman nonetheless offered three recommendations for a path forward. 

First, lawmakers must work to protect the Obama administration’s authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. Second, he called on policymakers to “educate the public” about the dangers of climate change. Third, he appealed to Republicans to work with Democrats to find a consensus on legislation to address the country’s energy and environmental problems.

“We want to work with them on other approaches,” Waxman said, noting he’d be happy to start from scratch on energy legislation.