Republicans Eliminate Climate Change Panel

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Updated: 3:37 PM ET. 

Republicans will eliminate a House panel designed to explore issues related to climate change, incoming House Speaker John Boehner announced on Wednesday, arguing that the committee is unnecessary and that its eradication would cut government waste.

"The global warming committee doesn't need to be a separate committee," Boehner told reporters. "We believe the Science Committee is more than capable of handling this issue, and in the process we'll save several million dollars."

The House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, which was created by Nancy Pelosi in 2007, was designed to provide members of Congress with a prominent forum for discussion on developing climate-change science and supply information about the global race for clean-energy technology. Over the course of its three-year existence, the panel held 75 hearings, according to Bloomberg News.

The scientific community largely sees global warming as a legitimate and growing problem brought about in part by human activity. Many Republican lawmakers question that scientific consensus.

Republican Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, who would have taken over leadership responsibilities for the committee in the new Congress, argued that the panel was a valuable resource for Democrats and Republicans alike.

"While I was initially skeptical of the select committee's mission, it ultimately provided a forum for bipartisan debate, and an opportunity for House Republicans to share a different view on the pressing energy and environment issues that we currently face," he said at a Wednesday hearing on the issue.

Dan Lashof, director of the climate center at the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), expressed the organization's dismay with the decision. "The committee was established to create a focus on the need to move in a new direction on energy, to improve our security and address a fundamental threat to public health ," he said in an interview with CBS News. "The new majority that's abolishing committee certainly doesn't look like it's prepared to move forward with the policies that are needed."

"Unfortunately, many of the new members elected to the house have expressed opinions ranging from skepticism to outright denial about the facts regarding climate change," Lashof continued. "As more senior members jockey for positions to be committee chairmen, they're suggesting a highly obstructionist agenda."

Current chairman Ed Markey of Massachusetts said he would continue to spotlight the issue despite the panel's elimination.

"We are not going away because the problems that climate change presents are too dangerous, too urgent, for us to disappear into the abyss of cynicism and lost opportunity," he said during the hearing Wednesday.

"While members of Congress may question the science of global warming, the rest of the world does not," Markey continued. "The politics may change but the problem isn't going away."

A spokesperson for Nancy Pelosi called the decision "very disappointing."


Lucy Madison
Lucy Madison is a political reporter for CBSNews.com. You can read more of her posts here. Follow Hotsheet on Facebook and Twitter.

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