This week’s must watch (look for my comment at the end of the segment): Obama’s climate legacy

This week’s must read (with bonus watching material): Majority of Virginians open to renewable energy

This week’s climate news focused on the confirmation hearings of two President-elect Donald Trump cabinet nominees, Exxon Mobil head and Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson and Attorney General nominee, Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions.

Testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Tillerson said, “the risk of climate change does exist and the consequences of it could be serious enough that action should be taken.” He explained that he came to his “personal position over about 20 years as an engineer and a scientist.”

“The increase in the greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere are having an effect,” he said, though he added that, “our ability to predict that effect is very limited.” Tillerson said, if confirmed, he would not seek to single out career staff who had attended international climate change negotiations and said it’s important that “the United States maintain its seat at the table” internationally. He also expressed his personal support for a carbon tax to “simplify the system” of reducing greenhouse gases as long as “revenues go back out into the economy.” He pointed out to committee members that “it’s important to note” President-elect Donald Trump asked for his position on climate change during early vetting.

In the Judiciary Committee, Sessions said in response to climate change questions posed by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) that he doesn’t “deny that we have global warming.”

“In fact, the theory always struck me as plausible,” he said. “And it is the question of how much is happening and what the reaction would be to it.” He further testified he would make decisions at the Department of Justice based on whether “the facts justify a position.”

In 2015, Sessions called carbon dioxide “plant food” that “doesn’t harm anybody except that it might include temperature increases” and voted against two climate change resolutions.

Next week, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold confirmation hearings for Rep. Ryan Zinke (Department of Interior) and Gov. Rick Perry (Department of Energy). Likewise, on Wednesday the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will consider Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency.

That’s it for us. Stay tuned next week as we report on climate mentions during confirmation-a-rama.