Earlier this week, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray (D-Wash.) released a 2014 budget proposal which stands in sharp contrast to the Republican plan offered by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).
The Senate Democratic budget -- which has been endorsed by the White House for cutting nearly $1 trillion in spending while raising the same amount in taxes over the next decade -- calls for "Investments in clean energy innovation, as well as in energy efficiency."
Yet the Democrats' proposal, which seeks Budget Committee passage on Thursday, does not forego investment in fossil fuels. "Our budget also invests in responsibly utilizing domestic oil and gas reserves as a bridge to a clean energy future," they write.
Ryan's budget criticizes the Obama administration's "opposition to domestic [oil and gas] drilling."
The Democrats' budget makes no mention of the Keystone XL pipeline, which was featured prominently in Ryan's House budget. Ryan's inclusion of the pipeline -- and arguably inflated jobs numbers associated with it -- has been called "a largely symbolic gesture."
While Ryan's budget does not address climate or the environment, Murray's proposal dedicates an entire section to environmental protection and addressing climate change. After noting that scientists and lawmakers have "reached the clear conclusion" that climate is indeed a major threat, the budget laments recent partisanship and the rise of "anti‐environmental views."
Several studies have found that among the most active climate researchers, a vast majority agree with tenets of anthropogenic climate change. The national science academies of all of the G8+5 nations have also signed a joint statement acknowledging climate change and calling for a transition to a low carbon society.
The Senate proposal -- which leaves the federal budget unbalanced and is likely to continue sharp debate among Democrats and Republicans -- argues, "Many elected officials continue to ardently deny the science of climate change and the real impacts it is already having on nation and will have for decades to come. This view only hinders our efforts to reduce hazardous greenhouse gases and to transition our nation to a clean energy future."
The Democrats' budget decries House Republicans' plan for "draconian cuts" to the EPA and suggests "fully [mitigating] the impacts of sequestration on EPA and [providing] additional funding for it to fulfill its important missions."
Obama's recent nomination of Gina McCarthy to serve as EPA administrator signals his intentions to use executive authority to take on climate change and U.S. carbon dioxide emissions, argued The New York Times, sidestepping a Republican-controlled House.
League of Conservation Voters President Gene Karpinski praised Murray's budget in a statement, saying it "recognizes the importance of the EPA to help fight climate change and land conservation programs that protect our open spaces."
Citing a 2013 Government Accountability Office report on the "high risk" posed by climate change, the budget argues "we must take responsible action to try to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while preparing for the impacts of a changing planet."
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