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The Climate Avengers

By Kevin Rogers

Marvel Comics’ The Avengers brought together a group of legendary superheroes to battle enemies too powerful for a single hero to overcome. Through their 50-year history, the Avengers battled hordes of alien warriors, armies of destruction-minded robots and supernatural villains.

Avengers Issue 1– CC Phillip Lenssen http://www.flickr.com/photos/philippl/449744183/

Barack Obama focused on a different threat in his second inaugural and 2013 State of the Union addresses. Obama called on Congress to battle the threat of climate change.

A number of lawmakers have moved to answer the call. These lawmakers boast a dedication to fighting climate change, high ranks from the League of Conservation Voters  and substantive policy proposals.

The Nerds of Congress now presents the six lawmakers of the Climate Avengers.

Sen. Ron Wyden  (D-Ore.)—Captain America

Captain America plays the role of leader for The Avengers. Likewise, Wyden finds himself taking the lead of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. He once called climate change “the premier environmental issue of our time.”

Facing a surge in new fossil fuel development, Wyden looks to encourage a low-carbon energy policy through capitalizing on new natural gas supplies and expanding support for wind and solar energy. Additionally, he’s a skeptic of the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline, believing the project poses environmental risks.

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) – Iron Man

Iron Man (Tony Stark) plays another leadership role for The Avengers. Appropriately, California’s Boxer shares a home state and serves as another team leader. She co-sponsored the first major climate change legislation of 2013.

As chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Boxer launched an early set of global warming hearings, pushed federal energy efficiency and supported clean-fuel transportation. Her latest legislation puts a price on carbon pollution and tightens hydraulic fracturing regulations.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)—Thor

Thor stands out as the only God on the main Avengers squad. Sanders serves as the only Independent lawmaker in this group. He serves on the Energy and Natural Resources and Environment and Public Works committees, the only member of the majority to do so.

Sanders co-sponsored Boxer’s new climate legislation, advocates renewable energy and supports an end to fossil fuel subsidies. He defines climate change as a clear threat driven by human activity.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) –The Hulk

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse– CC Center for American Progress http://www.flickr.com/photos/americanprogressaction/3821393120/sizes/m/in/photostream/

Dr. Bruce Banner best serves The Avengers when in his furious Hulk form. Though Whitehouse can’t transform into an “enormous green rage monster,” he has an ability to rally the passions of environmental activists. Whitehouse spoke at a climate change rally in Washington that drew an estimated 35,000 activists, the only member of Congress to do so.

Additionally, Whitehouse holds weekly climate change lectures on the Senate floor. He supports cap-and-trade, opposes Keystone XL and co-founded a bicameral task force with Rep. Henry Waxman, one of the House’s climate Avengers.

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.)—Hank Pym and Wasp

Rep. Henry Waxman, Steven Wonder and Rep. Ed Markey CC– The Q http://www.flickr.com/photos/theqspeaks/5063811210/

The duo of Ant-Man and Wasp rounded out the early Avengers team. Likewise, the team of Waxman and Markey bring the battle against climate change to the House of Representatives. Unlike their Senate allies, these Avengers face a formidable challenge from a Republican majority.

Waxman, ranking Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, attempted to press climate change hearings. Markey, ranking Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee, recently proposed a plan that would slash oil subsidies.

The pair joined forces to present the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009, a cap and trade plan that passed the House but died in the Senate.

Avengers Assemble

These lawmakers have assembled to promote policies to combat carbon pollution and attempt to curb climate change. Their efforts represent an early response to Obama’s call for action from the 113th Congress.

Whether or not they can gather support for their initiatives remains unclear, but this group appears ready to make every effort to press votes on climate change legislation.

Until then, they prepare to avenge the environment and combat climate change.

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