The Senate rejected the scientific consensus that humans are causing climate change, days after NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration declared 2014 the hottest year ever recorded on Earth.
The Republican-controlled Senate defeated a measure Wednesday stating that climate change is real and that human activity significantly contributes to it.
Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, offered the measure as the Senate debated the Keystone XL pipeline, which would tap the carbon-intensive oil sands in the Canadian province of Alberta.
The Senate voted 50-49 on the measure, which needed 60 votes to pass.
“Only in the halls of Congress is this a controversial piece of legislation,” Schatz said.
The Senate, though, is a place where the chairman of the environment committee, Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., is an enthusiastic denier of climate change, saying it is the “biggest hoax” perpetrated against mankind.
“The hoax is there are some people so arrogant to think they are so powerful they can change the climate,” Inhofe said Wednesday on the Senate floor. “Man can’t change the climate.”
The Senate, with Inhofe’s support, did pass a separate measure saying that climate change is real — just not that human activity is a cause.
The Democrats pushed for the climate-change votes to get Republicans on the record before the 2016 elections, with polls showing that most Americans believe humans are causing global warming.