In what may be his swan song from Congress, retiring Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) Wednesday said he plans to introduce climate change legislation when Congress returns after the elections.

The bill would propose to reduce the carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration in the atmosphere to 350 parts per million from its current level of 394 parts per million. “Science has determined that the atmospheric concentration of CO2 before the industrial revolution was 275 parts per million,” considerably below what it is now, Kucinich said.

“While we may already be past a tipping point, if we set a limit on concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere now, there is a chance we can soften the negative effects of global climate change.”

House lawmakers have stepped up their calls for Congress to take action on climate change following Hurricane Sandy, which slammed into the Northeast coast Monday, knocking out power and gas service to thousands.

Rep. Henry Waxman of California, ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and a strong advocate of attacking climate change, and Rep. Bobby L. Rush of Illinois, ranking member of the House Energy and Power Subcommittee, sent a letter Wednesday asking Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) to schedule a hearing on Sandy during the post-election lame duck session (see Daily GPI, Nov. 1).

“For two years, the House of Representatives has pretended that climate change is not happening and that the consequences can be dismissed without concern. With the election behind us, we will have an opportunity to begin again and give this matter the attention it deserves,” wrote Waxman and Rush.

Climate change was a major issue on Capitol Hill in 2009 and 2010. In June 2009, the House voted out by a narrow margin legislation that sought to cap heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming (see Daily GPI, June 29, 2009). The bill (HR 2454), which was authored by Waxman, had the potential to substantially change the direction of the energy industry from conventional oil and natural gas to renewable fuels. The measure never made it out of the Senate.

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