A Split Congress

Within the next hour of writing this blog entry, President Barack Obama will be sworn in for his second term.  I will be sitting at my computer watching the event unfold.  I don’t typically discuss my political leanings, but one major factor in my vote for Obama was because I felt most hopeful that under his leadership there might be movement on climate change legislation. Previous posts in this blog have noted my disappointment in the lack of engagement on this issue by the President and his opponent, Mitt Romney.

However, with NOAA stating the 2012 was the warmest year on record, a record that dates back to 1895, Senator Barbara Boxer is expected to place new vigor on getting something done.  As the Chair on the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee she has the power and influence to draw attention to the threat that inaction on climate change would pose.

Now, this is the United States, and not to be too cynical, but if there weren’t disagreement we would have had climate change legislation at the national level decades ago.  While Senator Boxer is committed to championing the issue, the House of Representatives is gearing up for passing legislation on ‘improving’ the Environmental Protection Agency.  Critics point out that this legislation would essentially open the doors for industry (fossil) to be allowed to sit on the Science Advisory Board which approves/disapproves risk assessments.  I am not against having a cadre of scientists that have opposing views analyzing something as important as risk assessments, but I do scratch my head at who thinks letting industry researchers approve of projects that would benefit them is a good idea.

I do think there are good ideas out there.  Long ago, I stopped putting so much faith in having an international agreement on climate change.  I also became less convinced at agreement might be had at the national level (thinking primarily of the U.S.), but I am hopeful that change can occur at the local and regional level.  Several regional and provincial governments have implemented climate change legislation (British Columbia Carbon Tax, RGGI, etc.).  I was also encouraged to see that Dawson Creek, a small town in BC, was pricing carbon emission at $100 a ton, far above the provincial tax of $30.

While 2013 is still rather young, I am encouraged that further action will occur.  Small changes can build up into something larger.  I am sure President Obama never thought that after being elected to the U.S. Senate in 2006, he would become President only 2 years later.  Change can come quickly.


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