Jim Inhofe

Updated July 30, 12:01 p.m.

Republican U.S. Senators discussed legislation Wednesday that would block federal money from going to Planned Parenthood and send those funds to other organizations that provide healthcare services for women.

Pope Francis is poised to issue a statement on church doctrine aimed at transforming climate change into a moral imperative for the world's 1.2 billion Catholics — a move that has already put him at odds with political conservatives in the United States.

Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Waters of the United States Rule — also known as the Clean Water Rule — attempts to clarify which bodies of water qualify for federal protection — which ones are streams, which ones are tributaries, whether pollution dumped into one stream will trickle into another — that sort of thing.

The Atlantic hurricane season starts next month — a time when coastal states have their disaster plans at the ready. Now, the federal government wants states to consider the potential effects of climate change in those blueprints.

States lay out strategies for reducing harm from a whole host of calamities that might strike, such as hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, or drought.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, FEMA, gives states money to mitigate those risks — grants that might help pay for tornado safe rooms, or to elevate buildings in a flood zone, for instance.

courtesy msnbc.com

A rare joint Congressional hearing in Washington Wednesday took up the issue of ‘Waters of the United States,’ the EPA’s attempt to more clearly define which bodies of water qualify for federal protection under the Clean Water Act.

As StateImpact’s Logan Layden reports, Republicans at the hearing — including Oklahoma’s senior senator and state attorney general — are convinced the move is a vast overreach of the EPA’s power that will place everything from ditches to farm ponds under government control.

Administrator Gina McCarthy explained the EPA’s action as a benign clarification of existing rules meant to reduce confusion for farmers and ranchers, not further burden them. Senator Jim Inhofe wasn’t buying it.

Breathtakingly broad as its jurisdiction may be, the U.S. Senate does not usually vote on the validity of scientific theories.

This week, it did. And science won. The Senate voted that climate change is real, and not a hoax. The vote was 98-1.

The vote was about an amendment to the bill approving the Keystone XL pipeline. The near-unanimity of the climate change judgment was notable, because so many senators have cast doubt on ideas of "global warming."

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The Republican wave that put the party back in full control of Congress also put Oklahoma U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe back in charge of the Senate committee that oversees the country’s environmental policies.

The political shift in Washington comes at time when — from President Obama’s Clean Power Plan to enforcement of the Regional Haze Rule that’s riled Oklahoma officials— the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has a lot of things in the air.

Election night was a rough one in general for the left, but some of the tears spilled on November 4th were over the specific issue of climate change, and what a fully Republican controlled Congress might do to thwart President Obama’s environmental efforts.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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