Quantcast

House Democrats Hold First Climate Change Hearings in More Than 5 Years

Politics
The House Committee on Energy and Commerce held a hearing on Feb. 6 titled "Time for Action: Addressing the Environmental and Economic Effects of Climate Change." Energy & Commerce Committee / YouTube screenshot

President Donald Trump might have left climate change out of his State of the Union address Tuesday night, but the next day, House Democrats filled the silence with twin committee hearings addressing the issue.

Both the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change and the Natural Resources Committee met Wednesday morning to discuss the problem. Democratic California Representative Scott Peters tweeted it was the first Energy and Commerce hearing to focus on the issue in six years, while House Natural Resources Committee Chairman and Democratic Arizona Representative Raúl M. Grijalva said it was the first hearing on climate change in eight years, as CNN reported.


"Today, we turn the page on this committee from climate change denial to climate action," Grijalva said.

Here are some of the key takeaways from the hearings:

1. 'Turning the Page' on Denial

House Republicans participating in the hearings largely abandoned outright denial of climate science, E&E News reported.

When Colorado Democratic Representative Diana DeGette asked every witness called by both parties before the Environment and Climate Change Subcommittee if they believed the climate was changing primarily due to greenhouse gas emissions, they all said yes.

"That in itself is a revolutionary step for this committee," DeGette said, E&E News reported.

However, there was more skepticism expressed by Republicans and their witnesses at the Natural Resources Committee hearing. One Republican witness was retired chair of earth and atmospheric sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology Judith Curry, who argued that droughts and extreme weather events in the past had been worse than those that have taken place in recent years, The Guardian reported.

2. Green New Deal

Most Republicans, however, opted to accept that climate change is happening while they shifted their disagreement to how it should be addressed.

Republican West Virginia Representative David McKinley told the Environment and Climate Change Subcommittee that "we all agree" on what is happening. "Where we disagree is on solutions," he said, E&E News reported.

Republicans like McKinley focused their opposition on a Green New Deal, an ambitious plan supported by some Democrats to transition the U.S. away from fossil fuels while providing green jobs and addressing economic inequality.

"If anyone thinks that decarbonizing America is going to save the planet, whether that's 10 years or 20 years from now, they're delusional," McKinley said.

Republicans generally prefer market or technology based solutions to sweeping policy proposals, E&E News reported.

"We have heard about general tenets of the plan for the U.S., such as all renewable electricity generation by 2030, all zero emission passenger vehicles in just 11 years, a federal job guarantee and a living wage guarantee," Republican Oregon Representative Greg Walden said. "We have serious concerns about the potential adverse economic and employment impacts of these types of measures."

However, top Democrats on the Energy and Commerce Committee like Subcommittee Chairman and New York Democratic Representative Paul Tonko and full Committee Chairman and New Jersey Democratic Representative Frank Pallone are also skeptical of the idea. Pallone recommended addressing climate change within an infrastructure bill that Trump would sign as the most politically realistic way forward.

3. Bipartisan Impacts

In a show of how much climate change is already affecting American daily life, both Republican and Democratic governors testified before the Natural Resources Committee about what it had done to their states.

North Carolina Democratic Governor Roy Cooper spoke of the devastation caused by Hurricane Florence and other recent storms. He said his state had survived two 500-year flooding events in two years.

"When storms are becoming more fierce, it is not enough to pick up the pieces. We must take action to prevent this kind of devastation in the future," Cooper said, as CNN reported. "I urge Congress and all of our federal partners to match the level of determination brought to recovery efforts to fight the effects of climate change."

Republican Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker agreed with Cooper on the need for preventative action. He spoke about the impact that more frequent storms, higher temperatures and warmer oceans had had on his state's residents, agriculture, recreation and fisheries and called both for federal plans for infrastructure adaptation and emissions reduction.

"This is not a challenge any one of us can solve alone. We need collective action from federal, state and local governments working with the private sector to aggressively reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the changes that are already in motion," Baker said, CNN reported.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Rob Greenfield pictured above is driven by the concept of "living a life where [he] can wake up and feel good about [his] life." Rob Greenfield / Facebook

For one year Rob Greenfield grew and foraged all of his own food. No grocery stores, no restaurants, no going to a bar for a drink, not even medicines from the pharmacy.

Read More Show Less
Apple has removed all 181 vaping-related apps from its App Store. VioletaStoimenova / E+ / Getty Images

Apple has removed all 181 vaping-related apps from its App Store, the company announced on Friday. The removal of the apps comes after thousands of people across the country have developed lung illnesses from vaping and 42 people have died.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
(L) Selma Three Stone Engagement Ring. (R) The Greener Diamond Farm Project. MiaDonna

By Bailey Hopp

If you had to choose a diamond for your engagement ring from below or above the ground, which would you pick … and why would you pick it? This is the main question consumers are facing when picking out their diamond engagement ring today. With a dramatic increase in demand for conflict-free lab-grown diamonds, the diamond industry is shifting right before our eyes.

Read More Show Less
A Keystone Pipeline oil spill has affected nearly 10 times the amount of land than previously thought. CBC News / YouTube screenshot

A spill at the Keystone Pipeline that began last month has affected nearly 10 times the amount of land than previously thought, state officials said Monday.

Read More Show Less
We shouldn't have to be toxicologists to be able to grab something at the grocery store that doesn't contain dangerous ingredients. Daniel Orth / Flickr

By Melissa Kravitz Hoeffner

A major but largely glossed over report by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), an environmental and public health nonprofit based in Washington, DC, shows that thousands of untested chemicals (an estimated 2,000, to be exact) are found in conventional packaged foods purchasable in U.S. supermarkets. And yes, all of them are legal.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored

The deforestation rate in Brazil's Amazon rainforest is at its highest in more than a decade, CNN reported Tuesday.

Read More Show Less
Traffic on Highway 101 in Los Angeles, California on March 25, 2015. Eric Demarcq / Flickr

California will stop buying vehicles from the more than a dozen automakers including General Motors (GM), Fiat Chrysler and Toyota who sided with the Trump administration on the question of whether the state has the authority to set its own emissions standards, CalMatters first reported Friday.

Read More Show Less

Record flood water levels in Venice hit again on Sunday making this the worst week of flooding in the city in over 50 years.

Read More Show Less