How will the House Science Committee address climate change?

An upcoming hearing intends to address climate change and other environmental issues without "a partisan agenda"

By Jillian Rayfield
Published January 22, 2013 10:52PM (EST)

In his inaugural address, President Obama surprised the left by pledging to "respond to the threat of climate change" during his second term, "knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations." But one major hurdle will be Republicans in the House of Representatives, who helped scuttle climate change legislation in 2010, and who will likely force the president to use his executive powers to implement any kind of new regulations.

The House Science Committee is representative of one aspect of this dilemma, and a planned hearing to discuss factors that contribute to climate change could showcase just how many Republicans on the committee are decidedly anti-science. The hearing is still taking shape but will take place sometime in the coming weeks, according to a committee aide.

Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, the committee's chairman, said in a statement that he hopes the hearing will "focus on the facts rather than on a partisan agenda":

“I believe climate change is due to a combination of factors, including natural cycles and human activity.  But scientists still don’t know for certain how much each of these factors contributes to the overall climate change that the Earth is experiencing.  It is the role of the Science Committee to create a forum for discussion so Congress and the American people can hear from experts and draw reasoned conclusions. During this process, we should focus on the facts rather than on a partisan agenda.”

In the past, Smith has decried ABC, NBC and CBS coverage of climate change that was “largely slanted in favor of global warming alarmists.”

“The networks have shown a steady pattern of bias on climate change,” Smith wrote in a 2009 statement. “During a six-month period, four out of five network news reports failed to acknowledge any dissenting opinions about global warming, according to a Business and Media Institute study.”

Smith's not the only one on the committee with doubts. As Salon has reported, there are several Republican committee members who have dabbled in climate change skepticism, among other things. For instance, Jim Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin has previously described climate change research as part of an “international conspiracy,” and "scientific fascism." And Rep. Dana Rohrabacher of California once posited that a similar period of climate change 55 million years ago could have been caused by, well, anything: “We don’t know what those other cycles were caused by in the past. Could be dinosaur flatulence, you know, or who knows?”

Jillian Rayfield

Jillian Rayfield is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on politics. Follow her on Twitter at @jillrayfield or email her at

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