Intelligent Energy

House Republicans kill climate discussion, probe wind power project

House Republicans kill climate discussion, probe wind power project

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The partisan divide in Washington has been on full display this week. U.S. House Republicans managed to stonewall climate change hearings while simultaneously launching a probe into the federal approval of an offshore wind project.

It is highly probable that the extreme weather this summer is caused by human activity, U.S. government scientists say.

The partisan divide in Washington has been on full display this week. U.S. House Republicans managed to stonewall climate change hearings while simultaneously launching a probe into the federal approval of an offshore wind project.

Democratic members requested a hearing in the wake of a National Climatic Data Center report that concluded 2012's extreme weather is very likely a result of manmade greenhouse gas emissions. The request was the 15th made to their Republican colleagues, according to a letter by Representatives Rush and Waxman, but Republicans were unmoved by science, and instead opted to take something of an election year pot shot.

"The committee held a hearing last year to examine related issues including extreme weather events, patterns of warming, and the attribution of climate change to human activity. With 41 consecutive months of higher than 8 percent unemployment, the committee's focus continues to be on jobs and promoting commonsense solutions that protect both the environment and the economy, a spokesperson for Republican Energy & Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) told Talking Points Memo, a liberal political news site.

I'll note that I recently covered a speech by an Israel Corporation executive, which has invested tens of millions of dollars into New Jersey energy start-up Primus Green Energy, requesting that the U.S. stop "playing games" with its renewable energy policy. Congress has held manufacturers' tax credits that the renewables industry strongly favors in limbo. Jobs are on the line with those too.

Meanwhile, Congressmen John Mica (R-Fla.) and Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) wrote FAA chief Michael Huerta asking whether the agency's decision to approve the Cape Wind project was politically motivated. Issa has been the poster child for investigations into the Obama administration, having spearheaded an unprecedented vote to hold U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress.

The letter asked whether the Cape Wind approval was an, "unacceptable use of federal authority, contravenes FAA's statutory mandate, and raises significant safety concerns for aviation in Nantucket Sound." An FAA spokesperson issued a statement saying that the decision was, "based on safety considerations and the available solutions to mitigate potential risks," The Boston Herald reports.

An environmental assessment of the Cape Wind project was completed earlier this month. The ability to develop on the OCS, combined with cheaper turbines, could lead to a boom for the wind industry. Energy Secretary Ken Salazar commented that the competitive offshore wind lease sale places the U.S on the "forefront of a renewable energy revolution."

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David Worthington

Contributing Editor

David Worthington has written for BetaNews, eWeek, PC World, Technologizer and ZDNet. Formerly, he was a senior editor at SD Times. He holds a business degree from Temple University. He is based in New York. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure