WASHINGTON -- Four administrators of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency who served under Republican presidents told a Senate panel Wednesday climate change is real and the federal government has the responsibility and the legal authority to combat it.
While saying they might differ on the details of how U.S. officials should react, the former administrators said the cost of delay -- or of doing nothing -- was high.
Florida came in for special attention.
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., talked about rising sea levels in his state but also about Florida -- "ground zero for climate change" -- and the
flooding problems that come with extreme high tides fueled by rising seas.
former Republican EPA administrator Lee Thomas, who served under Reagan, and William K. Reilly, who served under President George H.W. Bush, also testified.
Thomas also spoke of his home state of Florida, which is already working to combat the affects of climate change.
"The economic impact is undeniable," he said, "and local governments struggle to address today's impacts of climate change, while trying to anticipate the increased risk it poses in the future."
The four former administrators were met by senators who generally sparred over familiar terrain and repeated their usual talking points.