Udall, McCain hold global warming hearing in Colorado | AspenTimes.com

Udall, McCain hold global warming hearing in Colorado

Kristen Wyatt
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., speaks as Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., listens at a Senate Field hearing on the impact of climate change on Rocky Mountain National Park and other parks in Estes Park, Colo., on Monday, Aug. 24, 2009. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)

ESTES PARK, Colo. – Global warming is threatening America’s national parks. But there is no consensus about how to prevent the harm.

Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona and Democratic Sen. Mark Udall of Colorado toured Rocky Mountain National Park Monday then heard testimony from parks officials and scientists about how global warming is harming the park system.

Glacier National Park, for example, is losing its glaciers, while low-lying coastal parkland is in danger of going underwater.

On Monday’s tour, the senators were shown dying pine trees infected by beetles spreading as temperatures warm in the Rocky Mountains.

Herbert Frost, associate director for natural resource stewardship and science for the National Park Service, said climate change could be the most “far-reaching and consequential challenge in our history.”

Both senators said confronting climate change is paramount.

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“A common misperception is that this is a crisis that is down the road,” McCain said. “Climate change is real. It’s happening now.”

However, there was no discussion at the hearing on what should be done to address climate change.

When the Senate resumes work next month, members will consider a bill that would set limits for the first time on greenhouse gases blamed for global warming. The bill narrowly passed the House in June.

McCain said the climate change bill would take a back seat to an even more heated debate on health care overhauls.

“First we’ll deal with health care,” he said.

Udall didn’t say whether he supports the bill, either, making only an oblique reference to the climate debate in Congress.

“It’s encouraging that we finally have an administration in Washington, D.C., that is taking this issue seriously,” he said.

Last week the two senators toured the Grand Canyon to see the effects of climate change.