Though it's a controversial topic, U.S. Rep Henry Waxman, D-Calif., and U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., stand firmly behind climate change as a risk to the country – and now National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson announced his organization will, too.
Johnson supported the legislators' recent request for suggestions on a variety of questions related to climate change, including: what policies could be considered to reduce emissions; what policies could strengthen resilience to climate change; and how could Congress strengthen the ability of federal agencies to respond to climate change.
Rep. Waxman and Sen. Whitehouse together formed a new alliance, the Bicameral Task Force on Climate Change, last week in effort to gather input and develop policy responses to climate change. Part of the task force launch included their requests for suggestions, sent to more than 300 businesses and organizations.
"We can't delay action any longer. We want to jumpstart action by seeking recommendations on what every part of government can do now," Rep. Waxman said in statement regarding the task force launch.
Sen. Whitehouse noted also that the urgency of the issue required all ideas on the table.
"Washington is gripped in a barricade of special interests on the urgent issue of climate change. That's why we want to break the Beltway barricade and ask a broad array of businesses, non-profit organizations, and academic institutions to share their ideas about actions the federal government can take," he said.
The legislators solicited ideas from oil, gas, coal and electric companies, auto manufacturers, defense contractors, labor unions, universities and environmental organizations.
Johnson noted in his comments to the legislators that the more than 200,000 farmer-members of the NFU have taken notice of the issue.
"Mitigating and adapting to climate change is of significant concern to our membership and will be a defining trend that shapes the world," Johnson said. "National Farmers Union has long played a leadership role in the agriculture community in regard to addressing the challenge of climate change. Our members are acutely aware of changing weather patterns and extreme weather events that affect their operations."
House Republicans defeat two amendments to convene for hearings
Rep. Waxman continued his crusade to improve policy on climate change Wednesday by supporting amendments to the oversight plan of the House Energy and Commerce Committee that would direct the committee to hear from experts about climate change. However, the two amendments offered were voted down.
The first amendment was endorsed by Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill., which would have directed the committee to hear from scientists on the role of climate change in causing drought, wildfires and reduced crop yields.
Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., offered the second amendment, which would have required the committee to hear from scientists on the threats of climate change to coastal areas in the U.S., citing climate change's possible contribution to events such as Hurricane Sandy.
Rep. Waxman is expected to offer a third amendment on Tuesday, Feb. 12 when the committee reconvenes, though it is also likely to result in a similar vote. That amendment will require the committee to examine recent reports that found climate change can only be avoided with quick, near-term action.