Democratic senators are planning to put pressure on the major TV networks to raise their focus on climate change as they press for more controls over greenhouse gas emissions.
The Senate is gearing up for a battle later this year over planned Environmental Protection Agency regulations to limit emissions from power plants, which will be opposed by Republicans, according to the National Journal
"I think obviously we are all committed to raising the profile on this issue. We know that many Republicans are going to try their best to repeal the administration's authority to regulate greenhouse gases, and so we are going to band together and have a fight over those issues," said Massachusetts Sen. Edward M. Markey.
In an attempt to bring the controversy to the public, Sens. Brian Schatz of Hawaii and Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont, are getting their colleagues to sign a letter urging four networks to produce more segments on global warming during their Sunday talk shows.
Citing research from the liberal watchdog group Media Matters for America, Sanders said, "It is beyond my comprehension that you have ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox, that their Sunday shows have discussed climate change in 2012, collectively, for all of eight minutes.
"Sunday news shows are obviously important
because they talk to millions of people, but they go beyond that by helping to define what the establishment considers to be important and what is often discussed during the rest of the week. What they are saying is, climate change is a non-important issue, it is an irrelevant issue, and yet the scientific community tells us that it is the greatest crisis facing this planet."
Sanders and Schatz are part of the new 19-member Climate Action Task Force, which was created with the help of Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairwoman Barbara Boxer of California and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island.
The attempt to have a bigger TV profile on global warming follows a new initiative in the Senate by Democrats to make America more aware of the issue.
Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy said, "We are trying to breathe some new life into the informal coalition that we've had, and make it a little bit more public and a little bit more aggressive in its work, get to the floor a little bit more often as a group, do some more joint events here in D.C. and around the country."
Boxer said that the task force was created to "wake up Congress to the disturbing realities of climate change."
She added, "The purpose is to use the bully pulpit of our Senate offices to achieve that wake-up call. We believe that climate change is a catastrophe
that is unfolding before our eyes, and we want Congress to take off the blindfolds."
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada has also thrown his support behind the new climate change initiative, while Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York plans to have more climate-related speakers at the weekly meetings of the Democratic Policy and Communications Center.
Reid called it a "moral obligation" to future generations to control climate change.
Although major climate change legislation has been rejected in Congress, Boxer and Whitehouse are hoping to eventually pass legislation that places taxes or fees on carbon emissions.
Despite the new Democratic campaign to make global warming a major issue this year, Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma still calls it a "hoax"
and says "fewer and fewer" senators actually believe in climate change.
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