By Zack Colman - 08/01/12 05:07 PM EDT
Droughts, heat waves and other severe weather are being exacerbated by climate change, several Senate Democrats contended at a hearing Wednesday.
Democrats on the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works held the hearing to call attention to what they said are the risks of climate change highlighted by severe weather this summer. They also sought to blame Republicans for holding up action to prevent or slow global warming.
“I think we have to recognize that extreme weather conditions have a severe burden and cost on our society,” Sen. Ben CardinBen CardinTop Dem: 'Risk factor' to extending Iran sanctions in lame duck Senate rejects push to block Saudi arms sale Pentagon: No US aircraft flying during Syrian convoy attack MORE (D-Md.) said. “People living on the coast are seeing the sea level rise and thinking about how we protect our critical assets.”
Conservatives said the extreme weather in recent years provides too small a sample size to definitively say climate change exists. Some of the projections predicted by computer modeling also have not come to fruition, they said.
“Empirical data ... show that the temperature is basically the same” for the past 10 years, Sen. Jeff SessionsJeff SessionsTrump, Clinton discuss counterterrorism with Egyptian president GOP senators want immigration details on attack suspects GOP pressures Kerry on Russia's use of Iranian airbase MORE (R-Ala.) said during the hearing.
Republicans have said the Obama administration is unfairly targeting fossil fuel companies with harsh air pollution regulations. They, as well as the power industry, say those rules will stunt economic recovery.