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Climate Change Issue Reemerges In Congress

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The issue of climate change returns to Capitol Hill.
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The issue of climate change returns to Capitol Hill.

Republicans control the U.S. House, and many oppose taking action to address climate change, which is why many in the GOP were upset that in the State of the Union address, Obama said if Congress doesn't act, he'll tackle the issue through the executive branch.

"I think that was a provocative statement," says Rep. Scott Rigell (R-Va.).

Rigell says the climate is surely getting warmer, but he's still not sure what, if anything, the U.S. government can do to change the weather.

"I do believe that the precision with which some say that we can quantify this, and shape the direction, I still believe that part of it, our ability to shape where we head with respect to where the climate goes, I think reasonable people can disagree on that, too," says Rigell.

Even some Democrats are wary of Obama's plan. Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) says he would rather have Congress take on the issue than cede power to the executive.

"It's still my hope that we wrestle with it as a Congress rather than just leaving it up to regulatory authority," says Kaine.

But Virginia Democratic Rep. Gerry Connolly says he's not holding his breath while waiting for Republicans to get serious about global warming. And he says Congress already gave the president broad authority under the Clean Air Act.

"This president needs to make sure the United States is protected from global climate change, and needs to act," says Connolly. "And if the Republicans are still mired in the denial of the science itself, I think the president is absolutely correct in using what powers he has to make sure the United States is protected, and we act against the threat.

The reemergence of climate change leaves this divided Congress with another wedge issue that's already raising the temperature here in Washington.

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