Climate-change legislation in the new Congress : The New Yorker

by Scott Smith

Issa’s priorities are, to an astonishing degree, representative of the new Republican House majority. Last year, when John Boehner, of Ohio, the incoming House Speaker, was asked by ABC’s George Stephanopoulos about his party’s plans to address climate change, he had this to say: “The idea that carbon dioxide is a carcinogen, that it is harmful to our environment, is almost comical.” John Shimkus, of Illinois, is one of four members now vying for the chairmanship of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. At a congressional hearing in 2009, he dismissed the dangers of climate change by quoting Genesis 8:22: “As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.” He added, “I believe that’s the infallible word of God, and that’s the way it’s going to be for His creation.” Another contender for the Energy Committee post, Joe Barton, of Texas—who is one of the House’s top recipients of contributions from the oil-and-gas industry—argues that CO2 emissions have nothing to do with climate change, and, in any event, people will just adapt. “When it rains, we find shelter,” he has said. “When it’s hot, we get shade. When it’s cold, we find a warm place to stay.” (Barton is perhaps best known for the apology he offered, last June, to the C.E.O. of BP, Tony Hayward, for what he described as a “shakedown” of the company by the Obama Administration.)