New Hawaii senator pledges to tackle climate change

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Schatz is expected to be sworn in Thursday afternoon. He will serve until 2014, and plans to run for the special election to fill the remaining two years of Inouye’s term. Schatz also said he would run for a full term in 2016.

Schatz will serve with incoming Sen. Rep. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), who is replacing retiring Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii).

Hirono and Schatz likely will both champion climate change.

Hirono was named to the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources earlier this month, and touted clean energy on the campaign trail. Green groups have praised Hirono’s positions on energy and climate change.

While Hirono and Schatz might be more in the traditional environmental mold, the group of Democratic senators who are more centrist on energy issues also is growing.

Sens.-elect Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) and Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) will likely orbit Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and Mark Begich (D-Alaska) on energy issues.

Heitkamp will come to the Senate with North Dakota’s recent oil-and-gas boom in mind, likely aligning with oil-patch senators Begich and Landrieu on a host of issues. And the more conservative Donnelly might agree with Manchin’s hands-off approach to regulating greenhouse gas emissions.