Vatican invoked on climate change

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) is using the weight of a Vatican report about the urgency of tackling global warming to urge Energy and Commerce Committee Republicans to hold another hearing on climate science.

Waxman, the panel’s top Democrat, sent a letter Monday to the committee's GOP chairman asking for a hearing with authors of a Vatican report issued in May and a separate National Research Council (NRC) report from this month that also called for action to cut emissions.

The letter could put committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) in a politically sensitive spot if he does not agree that the report by the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Sciences is worth a committee hearing.

Waxman and Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) – who is the ranking Democrat on the Energy and Power Subcommittee – note in a letter to Upton, “Both reports find that climate change is occurring and that urgent action is needed to address its dangers.”

Upton steered a bill through the committee and later the full House that blocks the Environmental Protection Agency’s power to regulate greenhouse gases.

Upton argues that the rules will cost jobs and raise energy prices. He has sought to steer debate on his bill away from climate science and toward the economic effects of EPA rules.

But many Republicans are openly skeptical of climate science. At a committee markup of the bill in March, Democrats forced a vote on an amendment that called on Congress to accept the scientific consensus that climate change is occurring, it is caused in large part by human activity and it is a threat to human health.

The amendment failed, and Waxman and Rush pointed to that vote in their Monday letter calling for a hearing on the Vatican and NRC reports. They wrote:

“While the conclusions reached in these reports reinforce what scientists have been telling us for years, they illustrate the remarkable scientific consensus on the issue and present constructive efforts to find solutions. We believe members would benefit by hearing from the authors of these reports, particularly since a majority of the Committee voted earlier this year to deny the existence of climate change.”