Democrats Declare July 4 'Energy Independence Day'

By Susan Jones | July 7, 2008 | 8:06 PM EDT

( - "Global warming is "one of humanity's greatest challenges," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi declared on Wednesday. She said House Democrats are "working diligently" on legislation to address global warming challenges, and they expect to unveil their proposals by July 4, which she called "Energy Independence Day."

Speaking at a League of Conservation Voters' dinner in Washington Wednesday evening, Pelosi said future generations "must be first and foremost in our minds as we consider the conclusions of the scientific community: the planet is warming, human activity is responsible, and the effects are already evident around us."

She said the House will lead by example: "It is time for Congress to act on its own carbon footprint," she said, applauding Sen. Barbara Boxer for getting key offices to switch to energy efficient lighting and introducing legislation that will promote energy efficiency in federal buildings.

"Just last week, I was proud to join other House leaders in announcing a 'Green the Capitol Initiative,' which will result in us operating the House in a carbon neutral manner at the earliest possible date, but certainly by the end of the 110th Congress," Pelosi said.

"We will adopt innovative solutions, such as purchasing 100 percent renewable electric power, ensuring wood for our furniture is sustainably harvested, and conducting a comprehensive review of our recycling initiative," Pelosi said.

She said Democrats want to convert the Capitol Power Plant to a combined heat and power system and improve the House office building ventilation system. She did not give a cost estimate.

"It is so exciting to stand before you as Speaker of the House and know that because of all our hard work together, we have elected a Congress that takes real action on behalf of our beautiful planet," Pelosi said.

"The days of rejecting the science of global warming are over, as are the days of standing idly by."

Pelosi concluded with a reference to the Old Testament: "To minister to the needs of God's creation is an act of worship. To ignore those needs is to dishonor the God who made us."

Some critics have accused liberal Democrats of putting global warming on a par with religion, just as Pelosi did on Wednesday.

Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), who chairs a new House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, said last week that climate change is a national security issue.

At the inaugural hearing of the panel he chairs, Markey urged forceful action to "curb our dangerous dependence on imported oil and reduce our emissions of global warming pollution."

But Rep. James Sensenbrenner, the ranking Republican on the select committee, has urged a "common-sense" approach to "big questions" about mankind's contribution to recent climate fluctuations.

"I believe we should continue to foster a healthy economic climate, and at the same time, make responsible decisions and seek innovations to lessen our impact on the global climate," Sensenbrenner said in news release last month.

"'Let's Be Responsible' may not grab headlines like 'The Sky is Falling,' but it has the virtue of being correct. It also recognizes that there are two climates this panel, and Congress, have to be concerned with. One is environmental, and the other is economic."

Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), a leading skeptic of the nation that human activity is impacting the climate, has called global warming the most "media-hyped environmental issue of all time."

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