What: All Issues : Environment : Wildlife/Forest/Wilderness/Land Conservation : HR 1495. (Water Resources Development Act reauthorization) Kerry of Massachusetts amendment to require the Army Corps of Engineers to study global climate change impacts as part of water projects studies/On agreeing to the amendment (2007 senate Roll Call 166)
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HR 1495. (Water Resources Development Act reauthorization) Kerry of Massachusetts amendment to require the Army Corps of Engineers to study global climate change impacts as part of water projects studies/On agreeing to the amendment
senate Roll Call 166     May 15, 2007
Progressive Position:
Yea
Progressive Result:
Loss

This vote was on an amendment offered by John Kerry, D-Mass., that would require the Army Corps of Engineers to add climate change impact to its list of items it must study before undertaking a new water project. The amendment was offered to a bill that would authorize about $14 billion in funding for Army Corps of Engineers navigation, flood-control and environmental restoration projects.

"The guiding principle behind this amendment is obvious: It is that climate change is real and it must be factored into our public policy in almost everything we do," Kerry said. "Sea level is rising. Are we going to have the Corps of Engineers go out and build a project that has to do with rising sea level and not take into account how much it may rise, over what period of time it may rise? It is common sense that we ought to be taking those kinds of things into account."

Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., who does not believe that global warming is man-made, said adding such a requirement would delay the bill's many much-needed water projects, including those along the Gulf Coast area ravaged by hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

"We have $14 billion of projects. These are Corps of Engineers projects that are desperately needed. We have not had a Water Resources Development Act reauthorization bill for 7 years. We finally have the opportunity to have it," Inhofe said. "Now, if this amendment should be adopted, it would delay all these projects by at least a year because the Corps would have to go back and restudy all these projects. So I think we should keep that in mind in terms of how it affects the bill we have."

Kerry countered that his amendment would only affect future projects, not the ones contained in this legislation. But much of the debate over the amendment was actually focused on the disagreement over whether or not humans are contributing to global climate change. Kerry and others made it clear that they viewed the vote as a test of the Senate's appetite for going on record as endorsing the idea that human activity (primarily the burning of fossil fuels) is causing temperatures to rise. "We're making a statement here in the Senate about the need to finally, once and for all, recognize the reality of what is happening with respect to climate change," Kerry said.

The amendment was rejected on a vote of 51-42. Though more voted yes than no, this particular vote required a three-fifths majority of the Senate (60 votes) in order to pass. Democrats largely supported the amendment, though seven voted against it. And Republicans largely opposed the amendment, though 10 voted for it. Thus, the water projects bill went forward without language that would have required the Army Corps of Engineers to study water projects' impacts on climate change.

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