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Politics Northwest

The Seattle Times political team explores national, state and local politics.

March 10, 2014 at 10:47 AM

Democrats to heat up Senate floor with climate talk-a-thon

Updated at 12:18 p.m. with focus of Cantwell’s speech:

WASHINGTON — U.S. Senate Democrats are planning a 15-hour talk-a-thon on climate change overnight  — with Sens. Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray scheduled for brief oratorical shifts.

The two are among 28 Democrats and Independents set to take over the Senate floor starting at 6 o’clock tonight to direct attention to global warming and some conservatives’ skepticism about its man-made nature.

Murray will be among the first speakers and is expected to speak around 6:15 p.m. for five minutes. Cantwell will take one of the last slots at about 8:30 a.m., just before the 9 a.m. conclusion.

Murray and Cantwell both plan to talk about climate change’s impact on the economy and the need to curb carbon emissions, among other issues. The focus of Cantwell’s speech, however, will be on ocean acidification.

In January, Cantwell and Murray joined 20 other Senate Democrats to form the Climate Action Task Force.

Another member of that group, Sen. Brian Schatz of Hawaii, organized Monday’s climate gab fest to counter the dearth of discussion — inside and outside Congress — on how to slow  greenhouse-gas emissions and rising temperatures.

In 2012, Sunday talk shows on four major networks — ABC, NBC, CBS and FOX — devoted a total of eight minutes to climate issues, according to an analysis by Media Matters for America, a liberal media watchdog.

NBC’s “Meet the Press” gave it one six-second mention. Network nightly news broadcasts did better, at just under an hour combined.

Climate change slipped out of serious national dialogue after 2009. That was when “cap and trade” dominated policy discussions.

In December 2009,  Cantwell teamed up with Republican Susan Collins of Maine to roll out the Carbon Limits and Energy for America’s Renewal (CLEAR) Act as a “cap and dividend” alternative. The legislation proposed to simplify attempts to put a cost on carbon by requiring purchase of pollution permits by  oil, gas and coal companies,  refiners and importers – instead of thousands of utilities or coal plants.

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