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So as you may or may not know, Senator Barbara Boxer (D. CA) has put together a new climate change task force in the U.S. Senate:

The ultimate goal of Democrats on the Senate Climate Action Task Force is to shift the politics of climate change back in favor of legislating a price on greenhouse gas pollution — for the first time since legislation to cap carbon emissions collapsed in the Senate in late 2010.

Republicans, including a sizable group that rejects the scientific consensus that human activities are warming the planet, captured control of the House in midterm elections that year. Ever since, Democrats have been looking for a strategy to put climate change back on the congressional agenda.

Senate Environment and Public Works Chairwoman Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and Rhode Island Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse, a co-chairman of the Bicameral Task Force on Climate Change, said the campaign will be coordinated with businesses, universities and other nongovernmental groups to counter fossil fuel industry opposition to taxing or capping carbon emissions.

“We’re very realistic politicians,” Boxer said Tuesday. “We understand that the makeup of Congress now is making it very difficult for us to pass climate change legislation, but we will not sit back and give up. ... We will raise the visibility of this issue with the intent of changing minds around here.”

The 18-member group plans to push back aggressively against climate change skeptics in Congress, citing polling that shows a majority of voters think those who reject the link between human activities and global warming are uninformed. A poll commissioned by the League of Conservation Voters last summer found that 74 percent of independents and 53 percent of Republicans younger than 35 would describe climate change deniers as “out of touch” or “crazy.” - Roll Call, 1/14/14

The other Senators joins Boxer and Whitehouse are Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Al Franken (D-MN), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Angus King (I-ME), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Ed Markey (D-MA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Tom Udall (D-NM).  Now how are these Senators going to help educate people about the dangers of climate change?  Senators Schatz and Sanders have an idea:

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said on Tuesday the first action by a new Senate task force on climate change will be to push Sunday news programs on global warming coverage.

"Sen. [Brian] Schatz (D-Hawaii) and I are working on a letter" to send to networks, Sanders said during Tuesday's press conference announcing the new Senate Climate Action Task Force.

"Sunday news shows devoted all of eight minutes in 2012 to coverage of climate change issues, which is a decrease from nine minutes the year before."

"This is the greatest crisis facing our planet, and the major networks on their important Sunday news shows have devoted all of eight minutes to discuss that issue. That has got to change," Sanders added. - The Hill, 1/14/14

Sanders also had this to add:

"It is beyond my comprehension that you have ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox, that their Sunday shows have discussed climate change in 2012, collectively, for all of eight minutes," Sanders said, citing analysis by the liberal watchdog group Media Matters for America.

It's unclear how many senators will ultimately sign the letter.

Sanders said lawmakers plan to send the letter within days. The amount of Sunday TV coverage is way out of whack with the topic's weight, he added.

"What [the networks] are saying is, climate change is a non-important issue, it is an irrelevant issue, and yet the scientific community tells us that it is the greatest crisis facing this planet," he said.

Democratic members of the new task force say they'll embark on a wide array of activities to raise the visibility of climate change.

Members' goals include battling GOP efforts to block federal carbon emissions standards for power plants, and, longer term, creating political space for major climate legislation that's currently going nowhere in Congress. - National Journal, 1/14/14

Of course this is not the only action the task force will take:

Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), a member of Boxer’s new caucus who gave the climate speech at the Jan. 14 luncheon, told Bloomberg BNA beforehand that he would highlight how the new 19-member caucus can be more forceful in battling climate skeptics and defending the climate action plan Obama unveiled last summer.

“I will let them know the resources that we have with this group of senators and will assure them we will be using every opportunity we can to underscore the undisputed science” that human activities are “accelerating” global warming, Cardin said.

The Maryland Democrat said he also would stress that “there’s a workable way” to cut U.S. emissions including ongoing EPA efforts to curb power plant emissions. Cardin said he would also remind his colleagues that Obama—a president who has made climate action a priority—was easily reelected in 2013.

“We have made progress because we have a president who cares about climate change—so elections matter,” according to Cardin.

Democrats also would be urged to look for ways to “make positive progress where we can” either by pushing for more executive branch action or passing modest bills that increase conservation, or encourage more energy efficiency in buildings and use of alternative fuels. - Bloomberg BNA, 1/15/14

I applaud these Senate Democrats for continuing to fight the climate deniers and delayers in Congress.  But Senators Sanders and Schatz deserve an extra thank you for pushing to get climate change more coverage in the media.  The more people are educated on this issue, the better chance we will have in getting something done.  And Schatz and Sanders are taking that extra step.  As a way of saying thank you, please do consider donating to Schatz's campaign so he can win his primary and keep up the hard work in fighting climate change:

Originally posted to pdc on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 04:00 PM PST.

Also republished by Climate Change SOS, Climate Hawks, and The Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party.

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