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As Biden promotes climate action to world leaders, support in Congress still divided

By: - November 3, 2021 10:10 am

U.S. President Joe Biden at the COP26 U.N. Climate Summit on Nov. 1, 2021 in Glasgow, United Kingdom (Pool photo by Adrian Dennis/Getty Images).

President Joe Biden on Tuesday spoke to world leaders at a global climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland, about reducing methane gases and taking other measures in order to sustain humankind.

But back in the United States, Democrats and Republicans remain apart on the climate issues while the president’s agenda is in flux in the politically divided Congress.

Democrats on the U.S. House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis cheered Biden’s pledge to slash emissions of dangerous methane gases and help stop deforestation in a series of public statements and social media posts.

But Republican Rep. Kelly Armstrong of North Dakota, a member of the select committee, tweeted that new federal rules to cut methane emissions will “stifle innovation in states like North Dakota,” will “make workers suffer” and will raise costs of driving “kids to a baseball game” and of heating homes.

Armstrong describes the plan to reduce climate-polluting methane from oil and natural gas production as a “natural gas tax” that would be passed on to consumers.  He described the United Nations climate conference, COP 26, attended by representatives of more than 100 nations, as a “junket.”

U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, the Florida Democrat who chairs the climate-crisis select committee, has long called for U.S. and global reductions of methane emissions. Scientists say methane is even more potent than carbon at polluting the atmosphere and fueling climate change.

“The latest IPCC [global climate science] report warned us of the need to move quickly to reduce global emissions of methane, a super-pollutant that can trap 80 times more heat than carbon dioxide in the short term,” Castor said Tuesday in a statement.

“Cutting methane waste from the oil and gas industry is not only necessary; it’s also a win-win for American families, who will see lower gas prices and a cleaner environment,” Castor stated. “President Biden’s actions today follow the science and will protect American families and future generations.”

Castor said “this year’s costly disasters” including historic wildfires in the West and Hurricane Ida’s rampage across a swatch of eastern states demonstrate the necessity of slowing climate change by halting the flow of greenhouse gases accumulating in the atmosphere and blanketing the planet in excessive heat.

Committee member Rep. Sean Casten, a Democrat from Illinois, applauded Biden’s plan, which he praised as not only a climate-change solution but also a much-needed jobs creator. Casten also is a leader in investigating how major oil companies have fueled climate disinformation in an effort to derail clean-energy measures.

“If we want to tackle the #ClimateCrisis in time to leave a livable planet for our kids, we MUST hold them accountable,” Casten tweeted Tuesday.

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Laura Cassels
Laura Cassels

Laura Cassels is a reporter for the Florida Phoenix and a former statehouse bureau chief and city editor. She is a classical pianist, a Florida State University graduate and proud alum of the Florida Flambeau, an independent college newspaper. Contact her at [email protected]