WASHINGTON, Jan. 25 (UPI) -- U.S. Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., said forming a task force on climate change is the right step to take given last year's weather.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported that 2012 recorded the fourth-warmest winter and second-warmest summer on record. For the Lower 48 states, NOAA said 2012 was 3.2 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the average recorded during the 20th century.
U.S. Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., chairman of an environmental panel, said they were forming a climate change task force dedicated to pushing climate issues to the top of U.S. lawmakers' agenda.
Markey, ranking member of the House Natural Resources Committee, said the task force could be a tool to allay climate concerns such as drought and last year's superstorm Sandy.
"It will be successful because America has the clean energy technological know-how and moral authority to conceive and execute the efforts needed to address climate change," he said in a statement.
U.S. President Barack Obama made climate change and renewable energy a key part of his second term when he spelled out his priorities during his inaugural address.
Lawmakers from the Republican Party have pushed for conventional oil and gas development they say should be part of Obama's so-called all-of-the-above energy policy.