‘Climate change is real and not a hoax,’ Senate overwhelmingly decides

"I'm hoping that after many years of darkness and blockade, this vote can be a first little beam of light," said Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), left, with Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) in Florida last year.
(Wilfredo Lee / Associated Press)

The U.S. Senate has made it official: Climate change is not a hoax.

As part of the long debate on the Keystone XL pipeline, the Senate voted overwhelmingly Wednesday for an amendment that aimed to answer once and for all whether senators believe the climate is changing.

The tidy resolution said simply: “It is the sense of the Senate that climate change is real and not a hoax.”


By a vote of 98 to 1, the Senate agreed. Even Sen. James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.), whose book on climate change is called, “The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future,” supported the measure.

Inhofe announced his position moments before the vote, drawing an unusual outbreak of scattered cheers and applause in the chamber.

“Climate is changing,” said Inhofe, chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee. “The hoax is that there are some people who are so arrogant to think they are so powerful they can change climate. Man can’t change climate.”

The single no vote came from Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.).

Just before the vote, the amendment’s sponsor touted the measure as a first step. “I’m hoping that after many years of darkness and blockade, this vote can be a first little beam of light,” Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) said.

But that wasn’t the Senate’s final word on the matter.

The next amendment, from Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), fell 10 votes short of the 60 needed for passage.



Jan. 22, 7:10 a.m.: An earlier version of this article stated that a climate change amendment offered by Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) fell one vote short of passage. The measure fell 10 votes short.


That resolution said: “Climate change is real and human activity significantly contributes to climate change.”

All Democrats voted for the measure, but it went too far for most Republicans.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), chairwoman of the Energy Committee, said linking climate change primarily to human activity was enough for her to vote no.

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