- Politico -
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is comparing climate change skeptics to those who disregarded the Nazi threat to America in the 1930s, adding a strident rhetorical shot to the already volatile debate over climate change.
"It reminds me in some ways of the debate taking place in this country and around the world in the late 1930s," said Sanders, perhaps the most liberal member of the Senate, during a Senate hearing Tuesday. "During that period of Nazism and fascism's growth — a real danger to the United States and democratic countries around the world — there were people in this country and in the British parliament who said 'don't worry! Hitler's not real! It'll disappear!"
Sanders’ reference to the Nazi threat is sure to enrage Republicans who are already skeptical of the science behind climate change. But Sanders wasn't the only one throwing bombs at a hearing that was ostensibly about the EPA's fiscal 2011 budget. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), who has called global warming a "hoax," is asking for an investigation into the science used in the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the governing body on climate science.
Earlier in the hearing, Inhofe had chided Sanders: "I know the senator from Vermont wants so badly to believe that the science on climate change is settled but it's not."
The heated exchanges came as EPA administrator Lisa Jackson sparred with lawmakers over her agency's decision to regulate greenhouse gases, something that Senate Republicans — and some Democrats — have opposed.
"How can you justify doing something administratively that was overwhelmingly rejected by the United States Senate and say defiantly 'we don't care what you say, Congress, we're going to go ahead and do it under the clean air act," Inhofe asked.
Jackson said her agency was in its right to regulate carbon.
"The Supreme Court said the EPA must make the determination whether or not greenhouse gases are harmful to the public welfare. Rather than ignore that obligation, I chose as a public administrator to make the order," Jackson replied.
On Monday, Jackson told lawmakers that the EPA would delay regulation of most greenhouse gas producers until 2016. Her announcement came in the wake of a letter from eight coal state Democrats, who, like Republicans, fear the effect the regulations will have on the economy.
That was little comfort for Republicans.
"Some would say it's merely a cynical ploy to delay job killing," said Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo.)
As the rhetoric escalates, a handful of senators are actually negotiating on a climate bill.
Committee Chairwoman Barbara Boxer announced that Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) were "getting close to getting the 60 votes we need" for bipartisan energy legislation.
But Inhofe countered that they were nowhere near close enough for cap-and-trade legislation.