As Biden promotes climate action to world leaders, support in Congress still divided

By: - November 2, 2021 7:33 pm
climate

A flare burns off gas emissions at a petroleum refinery in Louisiana. Creidt: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

President Joe Biden on Tuesday spoke to world leaders at a global climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland, about reducing methane gases and taking other measures in order to sustain humankind.

Back in the United States, Democrats and Republicans remain apart on the climate issues and the president’s agenda at home is in flux in the politically divided Congress.

Democrats on the U.S. House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis in Washington, D.C., cheered Biden’s pledge Tuesday to slash emissions of dangerous methane gases and help stop deforestation in this decade in a series of public statements and social media posts.

But Republican Rep. Kelly Armstrong, of North Dakota, a member of the select committee, tweeted that new federal rules to cut methane emissions will “stifle innovation in states like North Dakota,” will “make workers suffer” and will raise costs of driving “kids to a baseball game” and of heating homes.

Armstrong describes the plan to reduce climate-polluting methane from oil and natural gas production as a “natural gas tax” that would be passed on to consumers.  He described the United Nations climate conference, COP 26, attended by representatives of more than 100 nations, as a “junket.”

U.S. Rep. Garret Graves of Louisiana, the highest ranking Republican on the climate-crisis committee, said nothing on Twitter, Facebook or his congressional website about Biden’s pledges. And U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter, a Georgia Republican, also was silent on the climate summit.

Also finding nothing to say publicly about Biden’s pledges on climate were GOP climate-crisis committee members Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio, Carol Miller of West Virginia,  Gary Palmer of Alabama, and Dan Crenshaw of Texas.

Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, the Florida Democrat who chairs the climate-crisis select committee, has long called for U.S. and global reductions of methane emissions. Scientists say methane is even more potent than carbon at polluting the atmosphere and fueling climate change.

“The latest IPCC [global climate science] report warned us of the need to move quickly to reduce global emissions of methane, a super-pollutant that can trap 80 times more heat than carbon dioxide in the short term,” Castor said Tuesday in a statement across all her public communication channels.

“Cutting methane waste from the oil and gas industry is not only necessary; it’s also a win-win for American families, who will see lower gas prices and a cleaner environment,” Castor stated. “President Biden’s actions today follow the science and will protect American families and future generations.”

Castor said “this year’s costly disasters” including historic wildfires in the West and Hurricane Ida’s rampage across a swatch of eastern states demonstrate the necessity of slowing climate change by halting the flow of greenhouse gases accumulating in the atmosphere and blanketing the planet in excessive heat.

In remarks posted Monday and Tuesday, committee member Rep. Sean Casten, a Democrat from Illinois, applauded Biden’s plan, which he praised as not only a climate-change solution but also a much-needed jobs creator. Casten also is a leader in investigating how major oil companies have fueled climate disinformation in an effort to derail clean-energy measures.

“If we want to tackle the #ClimateCrisis in time to leave a livable planet for our kids, we MUST hold them accountable,” Casten tweeted Tuesday.

Oregon Democrat Suzanne Bonamici shared posts from the climate-crisis committee in support of Biden’s methane-reduction plans, which are to be implemented through executive agencies including the Environmental Protection Agency.

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Laura Cassels
Laura Cassels

Laura Cassels is a reporter, former statehouse bureau chief, and former city editor. She is a classical pianist, a Florida State University graduate and proud alum of the Florida Flambeau, an independent college newspaper. Contact her at [email protected]

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