Energy & Environment

Democrats offer legislation to counter White House climate science council

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A group of Democratic lawmakers is offering legislation to counter the highly controversial climate security council being formed by the White House.

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and 10 other Democratic lawmakers on Tuesday introduced a bill to create a new group within the State Department that would be responsible for developing strategies to integrate climate science and data into national security operations.

The new council, to be dubbed the climate security envoy, would be responsible for facilitating interagency communication between all federal science and security agencies, according to the bill.

The proposed envoy functions similarly to the proposed White House council in advising the president and the administration on climate change’s potential effects on national security.{mosads}

However, the council the White House plans to create, which was first reported in February, has faced questions over its reported climate skepticism.

Sponsors of the bill Tuesday said the envoy within the State Department would be responsible for making sure science-backed data was being used to determine national security policies.

“Climate change is a threat to New Jersey, to the United States, and to the security and stability of our world. It’s a challenge we cannot afford to ignore,” Menendez said in a statement.

“Whether it’s disruptions to the food supply or forced migration from sea level rise or destruction wreaked by more powerful storms, climate change will likely exacerbate conflict and humanitarian crises around the world. National Security planning and analysis is only as good as the intelligence it is based on, and given the dangerously cavalier attitude this administration has towards the very real dangers of climate change, Congress must act to ensure politics doesn’t put our national security at risk.”

The new legislation, called The Climate Security Act of 2019, is co-sponsored by Sens. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Christopher Coons (D-Del.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii).

While the climate council Trump is proposing has to be officially formed through an executive order, the administration is moving swiftly with plans to create the advisory board. It is expected to be led by National Security Council Senior Director William Happer, a physicist and well-known climate skeptic who has in the past argued that carbon emissions benefit the atmosphere.

The team being organized under Happer is expected to heavily criticize the science behind climate change and question global warming’s impact on U.S. national security.

Last week more than 50 former senior military and national security officials, including former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, wrote a letter to Trump underscoring the importance of considering climate science in national security planning.

“Imposing a political test on reports issued by the science agencies, and forcing a blind spot onto the national security assessments that depend on them, will erode our national security,” they wrote.

Lawmakers on Tuesday said their bill “provides the statutory muscle necessary to address this need.”

“President Trump has halted efforts to mitigate the impact of climate change and continues to deny scientific evidence that underscores the severity of this issue. It’s now on Congress to step in and respond to the stark warnings from our scientists and national security experts and take meaningful action to combat the effects of climate change,” said Shaheen in a statement.

“This isn’t a matter of opinion or ideology – this is science. Climate change is real and it poses very serious threats to our national security, from leaving our military facilities vulnerable to extreme weather disasters to the impact on humanitarian crises around the globe. Ignoring the facts will put Americans in danger, at home and abroad.”

Under the proposed bill, the climate security envoy would be additionally responsible for outlining policies to integrate climate science into national security analysis. The bill would also re-establish the special envoy for the Arctic, which Trump dismantled in 2017.

Tags Ben Cardin Bob Menendez Bob Menendez Brian Schatz Chris Murphy Christopher Coons Chuck Hagel Climate change climate denial Cory Booker Donald Trump Ed Markey Jeanne Shaheen Jeff Merkley skepticism State Department Tim Kaine Tom Udall William Happer
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