Energy and Commerce Committee ranking member Henry A. Waxman (D-Santa Monica), Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, and 35 Democratic members of the California congressional delegation sent a letter Tuesday to Chairmen Fred Upton and Ed Whitfield strongly urging them to hold a hearing on the connection between climate change and the severe drought in the West.

Current conditions in California and across the West track scientific predictions that climate change would increase the intensity and duration of droughts, they wrote.

The drought is threatening drinking water supplies, agricultural production, and endangered aquatic species, and it increases the risk of catastrophic wild fires. There are also economic costs: lost agriculture revenues could reach $5 billion in 2014; ranchers are reporting triple the normal cost to raise cattle; and unemployment is increasing as fewer farming jobs are available, the elected officials said.

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