Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

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March 11, 2014

Democrats clock all-nighter with climate talk

WASHINGTON (AP) — Democratic senators clocked an all-nighter, working in shifts into Tuesday morning to warn of devastation from climate change and the danger of inaction.

Addressing a nearly empty chamber and visitor gallery, more than two dozen speakers agreed with each other about the need to act on climate change. Naysayers — Republicans — largely stayed away, arguing hours earlier that regulation would cost Americans jobs in a sluggish economy.

The talk-a-thon ended at 8:55 a.m., almost 15 hours since it began. It was the 35th all-night session since 1915, according to the Senate.

Florida Sen. Bill Nelson, who flew aboard the space shuttle Columbia in 1986, said when he looked out at the rim of the earth, "you could see what sustains all of life, the atmosphere. I became more than an environmentalist. I saw in its entirety how fragile this ecosystem is."

Nelson closed out the talk.

"We can translate climate destruction into a positive," insisted Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., who spoke about fuel cells built in Danbury and other Connecticut cities. He called climate change "implacable, relentless and only we can stop it."

Hawaii's Brian Schatz said, "Climate change is real, it is caused by humans, and it is solvable."

Republicans challenged Democrats to bring legislation to the floor to address the problem - secure in the knowledge they won't.

"Bring up the carbon tax bill. Put it on the agenda. Let's debate it," said GOP Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. He noted that Democrats failed to pass similar legislation in 2009-2010, when they controlled the 60 Senate seats necessary to overcome any Republican blocking tactics.

In Schatz's view, the debate, such as it was, showed that a growing number of senators are committed to working together on climate change, even if no Republicans were among them. "This is where intractable, longstanding issues get solved," he said of the Senate.

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