Dems use typhoon to push climate change hearing

House Democrats on Wednesday seized on the devastating typhoon that hit the Philippines to call for a hearing on extreme storms and climate change.

Reps. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) said Typhoon Haiyan shows the need for the House Energy and Commerce Committee to explore the link between the changing climate and natural disasters.

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"If a hurricane like Typhoon Haiyan had struck the United States, the damage would be incalculable, just as it apparently is in the Philippines," the two Democrats wrote in a letter to Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), the panel's chairman, and Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.).

On Thursday, the Energy and Commerce subcommittee will hold a hearing to review legislation from Whitfield aimed at blocking the Environmental Protection Agency's carbon emissions rules for new power plants.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), who introduced similar legislation in the Senate, will testify at the hearing along with the EPA's air and radiation regulator Janet McCabe.

Waxman and Rush said Republicans should abandon the efforts to stop Obama's climate change regulations and instead "hold a hearing with the world's leading experts on the relationship between extreme storms like Typhoon Haiyan and climate change."

The letter cited a leaked Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report that said sea level rises, coastal flooding, storm surges and more are a direct result of climate change.

"Yet this Committee is ignoring these risks," the letter said. "We are proceeding in a scientific vacuum. You have rejected our repeated requests for hearings that would inform the Committee about the dangers of climate change."

"Instead, you have scheduled a hearing on Thursday to consider legislation whose premise is that nothing needs to be done to address climate change," they wrote.