Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, discusses the impact, he believes, climate change has had on his district.
Monica Trauzzi: Congressman, energy and climate issues were very high up on the president's speech tonight. Did he lay out a clear enough directive on energy and climate for Congress?
Rep. Eliot Engel: Well, I think he wasn't specific, but he laid out a directive, it's time that some of my colleagues stopped denying climate change. I think it's a relevant topic and I think it's evident to anyone that things have been changing in this country. I think he said very forcefully that we had Superstorm Sandy, I'm from New York, and I know the devastation it wreaked in New York. I lived there all my life; I've never seen a storm like that. And we've had in the past, as the president said, in just a few years seen so many of those storms, you can't deny climate change. Maybe you can deny reasons why we have climate change, but certainly that should be an issue that's front and center, and I'm glad that the president, by mentioning it in his State of the Union address, once again put it up front and center.
Monica Trauzzi: So when he calls on Congress to pass a bipartisan market-based approach to climate change, what do you think? I mean, does something like that have legs? McCain-Lieberman was an uphill climb; any reason to think differently this time around?
Rep. Eliot Engel: Well, you know, the House is a different animal, because a majority of one carries the day. It's not like the Senate where you've got all these other procedures. So if the majority party refuses to bring a bill onto the floor for an up or down vote, and it's sustained, there's nothing you can do about it. And I think what the president was trying to do is he was trying to shake loose some bills on some important topics like climate change. I mean, he talked about gun control as well, the up-and-down vote, immigration reform. But climate change is certainly one of the things that's been kicked under the table when we all know that we should be doing something about it.
Monica Trauzzi: Were you encouraged by his remarks on natural gas?
Rep. Eliot Engel: I was. I have long thought that we need a balanced energy policy in this country. I am for renewables, obviously it's clean energy and it's what I want to see. But if we're honest with ourselves, we know that we're going to still need fossil fuels to get us from the point we are now to the point where we can have just renewables, and therefore we need to talk energy policy. And that would involve oil, and obviously involve natural gas, and obviously involve a dialogue, nuclear and whatever. So, yeah, I think it's important that the president mentions it because he has the bully pulpit tonight and what he says is the agenda that he'd like to see, and I think that energy is an important part of that agenda.
Monica Trauzzi: All right, congressman, thank you for your time.
Rep. Eliot Engel: Thanks very much.
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