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US Senate Global Warming Hearing Slated For January 30 January 10, 2007

Posted by notapundit in Congress, Politics, US News.
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WASHINGTON (Dow Jones)–This year’s first U.S. Senate hearing on global warming will be held Jan. 30 under a tentative schedule Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairwoman Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., announced Wednesday.

The hearing will be the new Democratic-controlled Congress’ first step toward devising a consensus climate-change bill.

With concerns growing about melting ice in the Arctic and the impact of warmer temperatures around the globe, Democrats have vowed to make the issue a top priority.

Boxer, speaking at a press conference, said the Jan. 30 hearing “will be an unprecedented type of hearing” where she plans to hear from her colleagues and consider their proposals for addressing concerns about climate change.

The issue of how to reduce emissions of heat-trapping pollutants released from cars and energy facilities has garnered greater attention on Capitol Hill in recent years. And several senior lawmakers – from Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., to Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., – have made clear that they plan on advancing legislation to deal with global warming concerns.

Still, there’s no consensus on how to reduce emissions and several questions remain as to how and whether policymakers in Washington should implement a mandatory cap on carbon dioxide – thought to be the main global warming culprit – or institute a tax on the greenhouse gas.

Either option would have a significant impact on electric utilities that rely heavily on coal. The fossil fuel releases substantial greenhouse gases when burned to generate electricity. Meanwhile, certain policies could boost nuclear energy, which is seen as an emissions-free way to produce power.

“I’m very much looking forward to this,” Boxer said. “I believe there are some very good ideas out there and if we take the best of these ideas, we could have a very good bill.”

Meanwhile, Boxer also reiterated her plans to review what she sees as a series of environmental rollbacks by the Environmental Protection Agency.

She accused the EPA of taking a number of actions over the holidays that amount to a “Christmastime environmental massacre” on public health laws.

“We’re going to shed the light of day on these rollbacks” and try to reverse them, she said, criticizing the EPA for a number of recent decisions she said could adversely impact water and air quality regulations. “The days of these middle of the night rollbacks without scrutiny are over.”

Boxer said the committee will hold a hearing on EPA’s recent actions on March 1.

Also, Boxer expressed disappointment with several White Houses nominations announced Tuesday.

The White House has once again nominated Alex Beehler to serve as EPA’s inspector general, Roger Martella to serve as an assistant administrator in EPA’s general counsel’s office and William Wehrum to serve as assistant administrator of air policy.

Democrats last year blocked the nominations, arguing that Wehrum, in particular, has been a key official in devising insufficient air policies at EPA. At the same time, then-Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman James Inhofe, R-Okla., blasted Senate Democrats for blocking three very qualified nominees.

“I still have the same problems with these people and I’m very disappointed,” Boxer said.

By Maya Jackson Randall, Dow Jones Newswires

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