Yesterday, one day after President Barack Obama repeated his promise from four years ago that he really will do something about the growing problem of climate change, eventually, members of the United States Senate followed his lead, and introduced a bill, S. 7, expressing the sentiment that someday, Congress ought to do something about climate change.
The Government Printing Office has not yet received a copy of S. 7 to share with the public, and so cannot confirm the content of the bill. A copy of the text of S. 7 was read into the Congressional Record by Senator Harry Reid, however. That copy reads as follows:
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the ``Extreme Weather Prevention and Resilience Act''.
SEC. 2. SENSE OF THE SENATE.
It is the sense of the Senate that Congress should -
(1) prepare and protect communities from extreme weather, sea-level rise, drought, flooding, wildfire, and other changing conditions exacerbated by carbon pollution;
(2) promote close coordination across Federal agencies and provide strong support to States, Indian tribes, and public and private sector entities to prepare for and withstand extreme weather;
(3) promote investment in new infrastructure and replace aging and obsolete infrastructure to ensure resilience to extreme weather, disasters, and hydrological change;
(4) promote investment in clean energy infrastructure, energy efficiency, and other measures to address dangerous air, land, and water pollution;
(5) promote development of clean energy technologies that reduce demand for oil, contribute to economic growth and job creation, and put the United States at the forefront of the global clean energy market; and
(6) ensure that the Federal Government is a leader in reducing pollution, promoting the use of clean energy sources, and improving energy efficiency."
Reading this legislation, I was struck by three things:
1. Although this legislation clearly is meant to address the crisis of climate change, it doesn’t even ever use the term “climate change”, choosing the euphemisms of “extreme weather” and “changing conditions exacerbated by carbon pollution”.
2. The legislation doesn’t support, even in principle, the development of a comprehensive strategy for attempting to slow down climate change, instead favoring only a few elements of what a comprehensive strategy must include.
3. Though it is titled the Extreme Weather Prevention and Resilience Act, this legislation would not, if passed, take any action to prevent extreme weather or provide for American resilience against the effects of climate change. S. 7 appears to merely express the “sense” of the Senate about what Congress ought to do, some time later, perhaps. It’s nothing more than an outline of an opinion.
Even though I’ve watched congressional Democrats work to prevent real action on climate change for decades now, I still had a difficult time that the Democrats would have the chutzpah to introduce a bill called the Extreme Weather Prevention and Resilience Act that actually does nothing to prevent extreme weather or improve climate resilience. So, this morning, I called the Washington D.C. office of Senator Reid to check that I was in fact looking at the full text of S. 7 – that the active part of the legislation hadn’t been mistakenly omitted. I found out no such thing. The staff member I talked to at Senator Reid’s office didn’t even know what S. 7 was.
So, all that I can write is that it appears that Senator Reid’s legislation, cosponsored by 21 other Senate Democrats, is a political message, meant to signal that, although the leaders of the Democratic Party will talk on rare occasion about the growing crisis of climate change, in order to try to keep angry environmentalists at bay, talk is all they intend to do.