Climate Action

Keystone Bill to Become a Statement on Climate Change

This week could be an important week, at least symbolically, for America’s commitment to tackling issues related to climate change. In the wake of Obama’s strong statements on anthropogenic changes to the environment in his State of the Union address, the US Senate this week will vote on a bill to approve the Keystone pipeline, which now includes a number of amendments proposed by Democrats which ask legislators to state whether or not they believe climate change is caused by humans and represents a threat to our future prosperity. Although Obama has vowed to veto any bill that approves the Keystone pipeline’s construction, a project which would accelerate development of tar sands oil in Alberta, the votes this week are expected to establish politicians’ views on climate change, setting up an opportunity to demonstrate awareness, or ignorance, of the overwhelming scientific consensus regarding climate change. You can view Sen. Bernard Sanders’ (I-VT) amendment here. Four other amendments similarly ask lawmakers whether or not they agree that humans are damaging or altering our environment. Although the Republicans who now control the Senate have not always supported environmental protection measures, it is not a given that they will vote against the amendment(s). Studies have shown that conservatives overall believe climate change is real and that 2016 Presidential hopefuls may not want climate denial on their public record. In addition, the new power dynamic in Congress could allow Republicans in more moderate districts to take a more measured stance, or demonstrate that they take their new leadership responsibilities seriously, as Republicans now have the majority in both the House and Senate. Debate on the Keystone Bill and its amendments is expected to occur over the course of this week.   Aaron Dorman, Intern