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Democrats prepare to square off with climate change skeptics

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Fossil fuel emissions, buoyed by a slight increase in coal usage, despite President Barack Obama’s Republican-dubbed “war on coal”, rose by 2 percent in 2013, officials announced on Monday.

According to a report in The Hill, it is the first increase in carbon emissions in three years.

"Coal has regained some market share from natural gas since a low in April 2013; however the impact on overall emissions trends remains fairly small," the Energy Information Administration statement.

Last week, Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I) announced plans to engage a climate task force to provide a “wake up call” to a US Congress imbued with an overrun of anti-science lawmakers.

Boxer, chairwoman of Senate Environment and Public Works committee offered this statement during a press conference on Thursday:

We are realists, and we know we don't have the votes for a lot things we think are critical; but we are going to get them, and that is the purpose of the wake-up call. We are defending against legislative riders that would roll back environmental laws including the president's climate initiative. Let me tell you we are going on offense. The whole point is to escalate this fight. Of course we are going to have legislation, and it may take the form of energy efficiency, it may take the form of federal buildings, defending [the renewable fuel standard], there are lots of ways we will be pushing legislation forward.

There are currently more than a dozen colleagues interested in the committee, including Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).

The American public, including Republicans, want the White House to tackle climate change, as Obama has promised to do, which puts voters on their side.

According to Sen. Whitehouse, a poll from the League of Conservation Voters reported “53 percent of Republican voters under the age of 35” found climate skeptics in Congress to be ignorant and “out-of-touch” with the realities of climate change.

The weeks of recent frigid weather, first from the “Arctic freeze” then from the “polar vortex”, had infamous climate skeptics in Congress like Oklahoma’s oil-state Republican Senator James Inhofe, trying to deny global warming, because the weather was cold outside, therefore any connection was “laughable”—a common statement from educationally-challenged deniers on the subject of climate vs. weather.

Whitehouse wants to rally business interests behind the fight on carbon to help bring the problem to the forefront of political persuasion and to crack the wall of denial (stupidity) on Capitol Hill.

"There is a barricade of special interest lies around Washington and Congress," he said. "As long as polluters can maintain that barricade then legislation remains a challenge. So our focus is on the barricade, on offense, and our intention is to open the space for strong legislation to be passed."

President Obama has already pledged to move his climate agenda forward with executive order, when possible, because it doesn’t require the approval of Congress.

Boxer and Whitehouse intend to announce the members of the new climate task force on Tuesday.

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