Senate Democrats say their Republican counterparts have no plan to deal with climate change because they are so beholden to the oil industry.
"Republicans in Congress have no plan to address climate change and cannot even bear to utter the words," Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid and Rhode Island Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse wrote in an opinion piece for USA Today
Reid and Whitehouse joined other Senate Democrats in keeping Republicans from overriding President Barack Obama's veto on the Keystone XL Pipeline.
Whitehouse wanted the bill to include a statement that climate change "is real and not a hoax," which Republicans allowed. But they had their own interpretation
of what that language meant.
Reid and Whitehouse contend that in the past "numerous moderate Republicans advocated for addressing carbon pollution in the not so distant past."
However, they argue that this changed after the Supreme Court decision in
Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which protected the rights of both corporations and unions to spend money supporting or denouncing candidates in elections on First Amendment grounds. While companies are prohibited from giving directly to campaigns, they can voice their opinions for and against candidates through political action committees.
As a result of this decision, the Democratic senators contend, it allowed for the "fossil fuel industry to cinch its death grip on the Republican Party, any hope for bipartisan cooperation came to an abrupt end.
"The Republican Party in Congress has become the political arm of the fossil fuel industry," they add.
Reid and Whitehouse say that Republicans aren't willing to "acknowledge the costs" of their position.
"While they happily spread misinformation from industry-funded studies about the costs to industry of protecting our climate, they blindly ignore the costs of climate change Americans all across the country see in their lives already," they wrote Friday for the USA Today. "Parched farms; intensifying drought; dying forests; rising seas; shifting fisheries; extreme storms — and the sober warnings of worse to come."
While Republicans "venerate our military," they "ignore them when they want of climate change's national security dangers," they wrote.
In addition, the GOP also ignores Pope Francis, big business, researches from universities with sports teams they "root boisterously for" in their states, as well as problems facing "home-state icons and industries," such as tick-ridden moose in New Hampshire and Rocky Mountain ski industries in Utah and Colorado.
"This is not benign neglect," Reid and Whitehouse contend.
"There is a massive political and public relations operation being run by the fossil fuel industry to create false doubt and plant phony questions to delay their day of reckoning so they can keep making money," they write.
The Democratic senators cite The New York Times,
which revealed that "one of their favorite go-to 'scientists,' Wei-Hock Soon," who was found to have "taken over a million undisclosed dollars from fossil fuel interests."
Former Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) professor Richard Lindzen wrote
in The Wall Street Journal that he and other scientists who question the mainstream view of man-made global warming were the victims of "a hunting expedition" following The Times article by Arizona Democratic Rep. Raul Grijalva.
Reid and Whitehouse conclude that "as the evidence becomes clearer and clearer, and the American people move farther away from the deniers, the Republican Party must have its own day of reckoning."
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