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The Keystone XL pipeline is a veritable grab-bag of controversial issues, but with so much debate over energy security, jobs, and politics, the most urgent problems of tar sands development are put on the back burner. For those of us who work on wildlife issues, however, the crisis couldn’t be clearer: Wildlife from Canada to the Gulf coast of Texas and beyond face a true calamity if Keystone XL is built.

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And we're live from Dirksen 366! This is the National Wildlife Federation's Miles Grant bringing you constantly updated coverage of today's Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee hearing, Impacts of Rising Sea Levels on Domestic Infrastructures.

It's one of the only hearings on climate change that Congress has held this year, so in that sense, it's an important chance to talk about global warming, America's biggest threat that Congress refuses to address. NWF Climate Scientist Dr. Amanda Staudt says, "The climate-related threats to our nation’s energy systems compound the vulnerability associated with our aging & crumbling energy infrastructure, which is already causing environmental damage." However, we we are being assured in advance that this "is an oversight hearing, not intended to lead to legislation."

Read on for updates!

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At a time when our members of Congress should be working to find common ground on legislation to help America's struggling economy, House Republican leadership is instead taking the payroll tax cut bill hostage, demanding a huge new giveaway for its Big Oil donors.

Just how much Big Oil money has flowed into Congress this year, particularly to House Republicans?

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It's happening again - Big Oil is using deceptive tactics to confuse the public about climate science. And this time, the attack threatens polar bears. We need your help to see through their smokescreen and to stand up for the truth.

Let's go step by step to understand the attack, why it's happening, and how we can fight back together.

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The Mississippi River is experiencing its second "500-year flood" since 1993. That's no freak occurrence - scientists say it's a result of man-made carbon pollution changing our climate.

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If your doctor warns you that your arteries are clogging & you're at risk of suffering the worst impacts of heart disease, you should wait & see if you have a heart attack first before doing anything.

That's the basic message you can expect to hear from polluter allies at today's House Energy & Commerce Committee Hearing.

Of course, the committee tipped its hand on who it's really beholden to last month at its first hearing on the issue. Did it call scientists to give the first word? Nope. The committee wanted to hear first from Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Big Oil's MVP who's calling the shots on climate policy. Today's science hearing came only after climate science champions like Rep. Henry Waxman & Rep. Ed Markey demanded it.

Here at the National Wildlife Federation, we'll be tracking the hearing here & providing live updates. You can also watch the hearing online at the House Energy & Commerce Committee website. Full updates after the jump.

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Big polluters have spent years funding think tanks to give a veneer of credibility to their push for profit. I mean, if the CEO of Exxon Mobil comes out and says Congress should roll back the Clean Air Act, it's just bad optics. So instead they give more than $2 million to the Competitive Enterprise Institute to say it for them.

Now the polluter-funded think tank-media complex has a new target - whitewashing the Gulf oil disaster.

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Is regular coal not dirty enough for you? Meet liquid coal fuel! Destructive to mine, water-intensive to manufacture, devastating to our climate at every step of the way – liquid coal is one of the world’s dirtiest fuels. Liquid coal production emits twice as much global warming pollution as gasoline & requires at least four gallons of water per gallon of fuel produced.  

Today the National Wildlife Federation has learned the Senate version of tax legislation includes subsidies for liquid coal fuels.

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An exhibit on evolution & climate at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History that doesn't even mention manmade climate pollution or the current impacts of global warming?

It's a shocking story ... until you learn who sponsored it.

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It's been a rough year for Big Coal -- from forged letters to falsely presenting stock photos as friends of coal to pouring tens of millions of dollars into lobbying & tens of millions more into advertising in an attempt to stop clean energy & climate action.

But until today, there's never been a hearing like this -- calling together four top coal company chief executives to testify on The Role of Coal in a New Energy Age before the House Select Committee on Energy Independence & Global Warming.

The National Wildlife Federation is liveblogging the hearing here & you can watch it online at the committee's website. Join the conversation in comments & we'll be keeping an eye on #coal on Twitter!

UPDATE 11:46am - Rep. Markey closes the hearing by pleading with the coal CEOs to join efforts in the Senate to pass a climate bill, not obstruct them.

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72 Hours for Clean American Power

Before we talk about the next 72 Hours, let's take a look back -- all the way back to 2003. That's when the U.S. Senate took its first vote on comprehensive climate legislation. The Climate Stewardship Act, a bipartisan bill sponsored by Senators Joe Lieberman & John McCain, was defeated on a 43 to 55 vote.

So what's happened in the roughly 60,000 hours since then?

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And we're live from the Dirksen Senate Office Building! The Environment & Public Works Committee is holding a hearing on the Environmental Protection Agency's budget. Expected to be most controversial -- President Obama's request to increase funds to regulate carbon emissions, as directed by the Congressionally-passed, Supreme Court-approved Clean Air Act.

The National Wildlife Federation has been vigorously defending climate regulations against Dirty Air Act attacks. We'll keep you updated on today's hearing. Shenanigans are expected from both sides -- I hear Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) has some drama planned, and I saw some youth climate activists scheming in the hallway on the way in.

UPDATE 12:07pm -- Sen. Boxer gavels the hearing to a close. The message I get from this hearing is that of a $10 billion EPA budget, the GOP objects to only the $56 million dedicated to curbing carbon pollution. Isn't that a big win for Lisa Jackson? No other cuts suggested at all?

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