Webb Backs ‘Continuing Discussion’ on Global Warming, Pushes Bill for More Nuclear Power Plants

February 26, 2010 - 6:38 PM
When asked whether he agreed with top climate change expert Dr. Phil Jones that there has been no statistically significant global warming since 1995, Sen. James Webb (D-Va.) said he is not a scientist and "not in a position" to "agree or disagree" with Jones.  But Webb said there needs to be more discussion about the issue and that he is proposing legislation to help build more nuclear power plants as a solution.
(CNSNews.com) – When asked whether he agreed with top climate change expert Dr. Phil Jones that there has been no statistically significant global warming since 1995, Sen. James Webb (D-Va.) said he is not a scientist and “not in a position” to “agree or disagree” with Jones.  But Webb said there needs to be more discussion about the issue and that he is proposing legislation to help build more nuclear power plants as a solution.
 
On Capitol Hill, CNSNews.com asked Webb, “Professor Phil Jones at the University of East Anglia has said that there has been no significant global warming over the past 15 years, since 1995. Would you agree or disagree with his assessment?” http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/8511670.stm
 
Webb answered, “I’m not in a position as a scientist to agree or disagree, but I certainly believe that we ought to have a continuing discussion about those sorts of things.”
 
CNSNews.com also asked, “What kind of evidence has been presented that has formulated your opinion on climate change?”
 
Webb said: “I’m not a scientist on this. I do have an engineering degree. We’ve been looking at all of these issues really carefully. I have my own piece of legislation that I put forth. I don’t know if you’re familiar with it or not – put forward with Senator Alexander – designed to address a lot of the issues that people have concerns with but in a totally different way.”
 

 
“The Clean Energy Act of 2009,” was introduced by Webb and Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) in November 2009.
 
“We’re attempting to put in $100 billion in loan guarantees for nuclear power and to address more research in all of these other alternate energy programs and what we call mini-Manhattan Projects, which I think is a better way to address the situation right now,” Webb told CNSNews.com.
 
In a Nov. 16 statement about the bill, Alexander said: “If we were going to war, we wouldn’t mothball our nuclear navy and start subsidizing sailboats. If addressing climate change and creating low-cost, reliable energy are national imperatives, we shouldn’t stop building nuclear plants and start subsidizing windmills.
 
“This legislation will create the business and regulatory environment to double our country’s nuclear power production within 20 years and to launch five Mini-Manhattan projects to make advanced clean energy technologies effective and cost-competitive,” said Alexander.
 
In November 2009, Webb said he would not support “cap-and-trade,” the Democratic-led bill to combat alleged man-made global warming, which passed in the House but is pending in the Senate.
 
“In its present form, I would not vote for it,” Webb said of cap-and-trade, as reported in Politico. “I have some real questions about the real complexities on cap and trade.”
 
Webb also said, “That piece of legislation right now is something that is going to cause a lot of people a lot of concern.”
 
In an interview with the BBC on Feb. 13, Phil Jones, former director of the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia and one of the world’s leading experts on climate change was asked, “Do you agree that from 1995 to the present there has been no statistically-significant global warming?”
 
“Yes,” said Jones, “but only just. I also calculated the trend for the period from 1995-2009. This trend (0.12 per decade) is positive, but not significant at the 95 percent significance level. The positive trend is quite close to the significance level. Achieving statistical significance in scientific terms is much more likely for longer periods, and much less likely for shorter periods.”
 
Jones also told the BBC that he does not think the debate on climate change is over.
 
The BBC asked Jones, “When scientists say, ‘the debate on climate change is over,’ what exactly do they mean – and what don’t they mean?”
 
Jones answered, “It would be a supposition on my behalf to know whether all scientists who say the debate is over are saying that for the same reason. I don’t believe the vast majority of climate scientists think it is. This is not my view. There is still much that needs to be undertaken to reduce uncertainties, not just for the future, but for the instrumental (and especially the palaeoclimatic) past as well.”
 
A transcript of the exchange between CNSNews.com and Webb follows below:
 
CNSNews.com: “Professor Phil Jones at the University of East Anglia has said that there has been no significant global warming over the past 15 years, since 1995. Would you agree or disagree with his assessment?”
 
Webb: “I’m not in a position as a scientist to agree or disagree but I certainly believe that we ought to have a continuing discussion about those sorts of things.”
 
CNSNews.com: “What kind of evidence has been presented that has formulated your opinion on climate change?”
 
Webb: “I’m not a scientist on this. I do have an engineering degree. We’ve been looking at all of these issues really carefully. I have my own piece of legislation that I put forth. I don’t know if you’re familiar with it or not, put forward with Senator Alexander, designed to address a lot of the issues that people have concerns with but in a totally different way. We’re attempting to put in $100 billion in loan guarantees for nuclear power and to address more research in all of these other alternative programs and what we call mini-Manhattan Projects, which I think is a better way to address the situation right now.”