05.2.2019

Defenders of CO2 expand presence in Congress

Climatewire, Feb. 28). Happer was appointed to the White House National Security Council by President Trump and is now leading an effort to conduct an “adversarial” review of climate science. The presentation yesterday could reach a wide variety of lawmakers. In attendance were staffers for Sens. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and Rep. Gary Palmer (R-Ala.). Representatives for the American Farm Bureau Federation, the Senate Agriculture Committee and the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis were also there. One legislative staffer said he was a little less concerned about the dangers of rising carbon dioxide levels after hearing the presentation. “I’m now maybe slightly less concerned about increasing CO2 levels. I’m still not convinced that that’s not an issue that something needs to be done about,” said Sean Bland, a staffer in Wicker’s office, who said he was speaking for himself. He said he would distill a few talking points from the presentation and submit them to his supervisor in the senator’s office. Rossiter said he plans to brief more members of Congress in the coming months. His group has already briefed at least eight lawmakers, he said, including Reps. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) and James Comer (R-Ky.). The meetings can give lawmakers talking points to be used in climate hearings conducted by Democrats.

Health risks

On Tuesday, at a House Oversight Committee hearing on the public health risks of climate change, Comer had some of those talking points ready to go. Comer, who represents coal-producing regions of Kentucky, repeated some of the talking points used by the CO2 Coalition in his opening statement. He said he wanted to talk about the “role that coal would play in helping more Americans escape poverty and maintain a higher state of health and well-being.” Rossiter, who testified at the Tuesday hearing, said increased fossil fuels would bring wealth to the world and claimed that fossil fuels had saved lives. “So far, CO2 emissions have had a modest, positive impact on public health in the United States: They have increased plant productivity because CO2 is plant food and reduced mortality because CO2 has contributed to warming,” Rossiter told lawmakers. Later, he added: “Being wealthy saves lives.” At Tuesday’s hearing, Republicans used much of their time asking Rossiter to comment on climate change, rather than the four witnesses who were public health experts. Democrats, meanwhile, spent time questioning Rossiter about funding sources for the CO2 Coalition and on misleading claims he made about climate change. Some of the health experts also devoted part of their time to correcting Rossiter. “Let’s get it back to the subject of this hearing, which is the impact of climate change on human health. We are not debating whether climate change is real, and we are not debating any of those attendant effects. We are debating and discussing the impacts on public health,” said Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.). Public health experts described a number of ways that they’re seeing climate change affect health. “The allergy season is longer, the trees are flowering more, we’re having more vibrant flowering of all trees, which then quickly creates more asthma and more allergies and then that causes a tremendous increase in cost,” said Cheryl Holder, a physician and associate professor at Florida International University. Aaron Bernstein, director of the Climate Change & Health Initiative at Harvard University’s Global Health Institute, corrected Rossiter’s claims, saying they were cherry-picked and not the entire truth about climate change. “What you heard does not reflect the full truth as regards to what the science understands,” Bernstein said.   This article appeared on the E&E News website at https://www.eenews.net/stories/1060254739]]>

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