URGENT: Take Action on LB 583

The first Nebraska legislative bill addressing the issue of climate change — LB 583 introduced by Senator Ken Haar — won first round approval in the Unicameral April 23. But not without an attempt by climate change deniers to kill the bill.

Unable to defeat LB 583 outright, Senators Beau McCoy and Tyson Larson did succeed in adding two amendments to weaken the legislation's intent. As the bill now reads, the state’s “Climate Assessment and Response Committee” still authorizes the group to report on the impact of climate change on Nebraska and make legislative recommendations for action.

But we don’t dare risk allowing any more amendments to LB 583 if the bill is to retain its teeth.

The April 30 Lincoln Journal Star editorial below expertly outlines the case for why the Nebraska Legislature needs to take this “sensible step on climate change.”

To muster the 30 votes necessary to override a gubernatorial veto, however, it’s imperative that constituents contact their state senators immediately and urge them to support LB 583—without further amendments. To find YOUR senator click HERE.

The debate over this bill has become more than just a state issue. It’s become a national news story. Newspapers as diverse as the San Francisco Chronicle and the Houston Chronicle carried articles about the legislative debate on the LB 583. The eyes of the nation are on Nebraska.

Whether this story has a happy ending, though, is up to us.

Don’t delay. Contact your senator by email or phone immediately and urge them to vote for LB 583—without amendments. To find YOUR senator click HERE.

Let’s make history by having Nebraska become one of the first states in the country to develop a state plan to address climate change.

Editorial, 4/30: Sensible Step on Climate Change

April 29, 2013
By the Journal Star editorial board
Lincoln Journal Star

Sen. Ken Haar’s proposal to develop a Nebraska plan for coping with climate change is an inexpensive, common-sense measure that ought to zip to enactment without controversy.

So it’s reassuring that his priority bill, LB583, swept to 35-0 first-round approval.

Nonetheless, after scores of Nebraskans showed up at a legislative hearing in February to voice fears that efforts to protect natural resources are part of a global conspiracy called Agenda 21, nothing should be taken for granted.

Haar’s bill, which was tweaked in minor ways before advancement, would broaden the mission of the state’s existing Climate Assessment and Response Committee, which was created in 1991 to provide advice on drought issues.

The bill calls for the committee to provide a report by September 2014 that would synthesize and assess the current state of knowledge on climate change, including historical patterns and projections for the future, and the implications for agriculture and other activities.

Later that year the committee would issue a report laying out options and recommendations based on the data.

The advantages of having a Nebraska-centric plan for coping with climate change, at a cost estimated at $40,000, should be obvious.

Those sorts of studies already have begun at the national level. Even the U.S. Department of Defense has studied how climate change could affect its mission of protecting American security.

Coming up with am actionable plan probably will not be easy. In February, the U.S. Department of Agriculture issued a report called “Climate Change and Agriculture in the United States: Effects and Adaptation,” that says agricultural adaptation will be undertaken in an environment “characterized by high complexity and uncertainty.”

That uncertainty is on display this year during an abnormally chilly spring, with record low temperatures posted in Lincoln. Nonetheless, 2012 was the hottest and driest year on record in Nebraska, and the long-term historical pattern shows that the growing season in Nebraska has gradually become longer and warmer, as exemplified by the plant hardiness zone map put out by the USDA last year based on 30 years of data.

In its February report the USDA points out that “U.S. agriculture has demonstrated a remarkable adaptive capacity over the last 150 years.” In large part the amazing improvement in agricultural productivity is because farmers relied on scientific evidence and research.

If Nebraska’s elected officials want to keep the state’s agricultural economy strong, they should stay on top of the latest research on climate change and adaption. LB583 is a prudent step in the right direction.

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