2011 | Washington, DC

Tyranny of the Majority

The U.S. government on global warming.

First, Representative Henry Waxman of California offered an amendment that would have put the committee on record accepting what decades of data has demonstrated—that the planet is warming. The amendment read:

Congress accepts the scientific finding of the Environmental Protection Agency that “warming of the climate system is unequivocal, as is now evident from observations of increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice, and rising global average sea level.”

Second, Representative Diana DeGette of Colorado offered an amendment that would have put the committee on record accepting the scientific consensus that climate change is caused by human greenhouse-gas emissions. The amendment read:

Congress accepts the scientific finding of the Environmental Protection Agency that the “scientific evidence is compelling’’ that elevated concentrations of greenhouse gases resulting from anthropogenic emissions “are the root cause of recently observed climate change.”

Third, Representative Jay Inslee of Washington State offered an amendment that would have put the committee on record accepting that public health is threatened by climate change. The amendment read:

Congress accepts the scientific finding of the Environmental Protection Agency that “the public health of current generations is endangered and that the threat to public health for both current and future generations will likely mount over time as greenhouse gases continue to accumulate in the atmosphere and result in ever greater rates of climate change.”

From the House of Representatives’ report on the Energy Tax Prevention Act of 2011. In April of that year the House Committee on Energy and Commerce reviewed a bill prohibiting the administrator of the EPA from “promulgating any regulation concerning, taking any action relating to, or taking into consideration the emission of greenhouse gas to address climate change.” These three amendments were proposed during deliberation; all were voted down by the Republican majority. The bill ultimately passed the House but not the Senate.