News & Politics

Senate Democrats Burn the Midnight Oil to Address Climate Change

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said those who believe global warming isn't real —like many Republicans — don't have a "valid point of view."

Photo Credit: David Carillet/

28 Democratic Party members held an overnight Senate session to raise the alarm over climate change. The Senators’ efforts to amplify the issue of global warming lasted for 15 straight hours.

“Climate change is real. It’s here,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said.  He then said those who believe it isn’t a reality--like many members of the Republican Party--don’t have “a valid point of view.”

The same group of Democrats have been working together by holding weekly meetings with environmental activists, lobbyists and corporate leaders who support their climate change policies.  While they recognize no climate change legislation will be passed in this session, they’re trying to plant the seeds so that effective bills could be passed in the future.

While Republicans criticized the gathering, the White House praised it.  “We commend those who are participating because it’s a very important subject that the president, as you know, is concerned about and has a climate action plan dedicated to addressing,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said.  But what the White House may not have liked are demands to halt the Keystone XL pipeline.

For three hours, no Democrats mentioned the pipeline, which has become a lightning rod for criticism and split Democrats.  Climate change activists have made stopping the pipeline, which would transport tar sands through the U.S. and burn up oil, causing a massive carbon footprint.  In February, a State Department report stated that the pipeline would have little impact on the environment, potentially clearing the way for its approval.

On the Senate floor, though, Virginia Democrat Tim Kaine had no kind words for the proposed pipeline.  “It would be very good thing if the president right now rejected the use of tar sands oil in the Keystone pipeline,” Kaine said. “Why would we embrace tar sands oil and backslide to a dirtier tomorrow?”


Alex Kane is former World editor at AlterNet. His work has appeared in Mondoweiss, Salon, VICE, the Los Angeles Review of Books and more. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

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