Although the serious Obama-fest won’t start until next week when the new President takes office, one smaller revolution started yesterday in Washington.

Representative Henry Waxman, the Democrat from California, opened the new Congress’ first hearing on climate change and immediately promised to move “quickly and decisively” to have legislation coming from his committee before Memorial Day at the end of May.

“Our environment and our economy depend on congressional action to confront the threat of climate change and secure our energy independence,” said Waxman. “U.S. industries want to invest in a clean energy future, but uncertainties about whether, when and how greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced is deterring these vital investments.”

First up before the committee was the, the 31-member United States Climate Action Partnership, which earlier this week called for a 80 percent emission reduction by 2050 with half of that coming by 2030.

But in a sign of the troubled times to come, the debate was seen as acrimonious, with the Republicans out to make mischief and drag their heels on the issue. Representative Joe Barton of Texas, the ranking Republican on the committee, took the sceptic argument and argued that “the science is not settled” on climate change.

“Be prepared for a battle,” Illinois Republican John Shimkus said. Shirty Shimkus also vowed to “hold accountable” any Democrats from coal-abundant and petroleum-producing states who vote in favour of cap and trade legislation.  They also promised to hold members of the Partnership accountable for their own use of fossil fuels.

Although their plan came under attack from the Republicans, the Partnership’s group’s plan does not go as far as what Obama has proposed, or as Waxman has floated. Obama has called for an 80 percent reduction in emissions by 2050 from 1990 levels, meaning greater reductions would have to be made.

Not surprisingly, therefore, many environmentalists attacked the plan for being too weak.  The Union of Concerned Scientists said the blueprint needs “strengthening.”  Friends of the Earth focused on the same issues and called the blueprint “deeply flawed.”

But that was the first day. It will be interesting to see what Waxman comes up with by May….