House Committees Hold Hearings on Climate Change for First Time in Years
Climate change is back in the House. Emboldened under a new Democratic majority, two main energy and environment committees are holding simultaneous hearings Wednesday to discuss rising global temperatures and averting climate catastrophe, Roll Call reported.
This will be the House Energy and Commerce Committee's first hearing on climate change in six years, according to hearing host Rep. Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.), who leads the Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change. For the Natural Resources Committee, it will be their first hearing on climate change in more than eight years.
Climate change has been all but ignored or downright dismissed under years of Republican leadership, but at today's Energy and Commerce hearing, the Democrats plan to build a "powerful record" in Congress on the costs of federal climate inaction and to better understand the benefits of transitioning to a clean energy economy, Tonko said in a video posted to Twitter.
"For everyone who has called on Congress to #ActOnClimate, we hear you. We believe the science, we understand the urgency and we are committed to getting results. Stay tuned," he tweeted.
The powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee, chaired by Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), has oversight on a broad range of agencies, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Energy and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Restoring environmental rules rolled back by President Trump are on the top panel's list, according to the New York Times.
The Natural Resources Committee, led by Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.), oversees federal conservation and species protection programs, including monitoring onshore and offshore oil and gas, renewable energy development, protecting public lands, species protection and Indigenous peoples affairs.
"Protecting our environment, taking climate change seriously, and putting the public interest first are not optional on this Committee, and that's what Democrats are going to do every day for the next two years," Grijalva said in a press release after announcing the Democratic leadership team and subcommittee memberships. "The American people want clean air and water and public lands protected for the future. It's our job to make sure they get them. Our entire team is excited to get started right away, and everyone should expect big things from this Committee."
In anticipation of the climate hearing, the Congressman invited American citizens to share their stories on they have been affected by wildfires, hurricanes, floods or other natural disasters made worse by climate change. Participants can also use the hashtag #ClimateChangeImpactsMe on social media.
"When you are from the Lowcountry, you live with the consequences of rising sea levels and climate change everyday," Freshmen Rep. Joe Cunningham (D-SC), a member of the Natural Resources Committee, responded via tweet.
Cunningham, was narrowly elected over Trump-endorsed Republican Katie Arrington, recently introduced a bill that places a ten-year moratorium on offshore drilling and seismic airgun blasting off the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts.
Kim Cobb, a climate scientist at Georgia Institute of Technology's School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, will testify before the House Natural Resources Committee on Wednesday will make "a strong case" on reducing the use of fossil fuels and present options for a low carbon future, she told Roll Call.
"I think that continued delays in developing a comprehensive federal level policy around climate change ... we can't endure them anymore," Cobb added.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) are reportedly planning to introduce a resolution this week on the highly vaunted Green New Deal, Axios reported.
The move comes after regional authorities declared a state of emergency over the weekend after sightings of more than 50 bears in the town of Belushya Guba since December.
This year's letter from Bill and Melinda Gates focused on nine things that surprised them. For the Microsoft-cofounder, one thing he was surprised to learn was the massive amount of new buildings the planet should expect in the coming decades due to urban population growth.
"The number of buildings in the world is going to double by 2060. It's like we're going to build a new New York City every month for the next 40 years," he said.
By Shana Udvardy
After a dearth of action on climate change and a record year of extreme events in 2017, the inclusion of climate change policies within the annual legislation Congress considers to outline its defense spending priorities (the National Defense Authorization Act) for fiscal year 2018 was welcome progress. House and Senate leaders pushed to include language that mandated that the Department of Defense (DoD) incorporate climate change in their facility planning (see more on what this section of the bill does here and here) as well as issue a report on the impacts of climate change on military installations. Unfortunately, what DoD produced fell far short of what was mandated.
Trump is losing his rallying cry to save coal. The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) voted on Thursday to retire two coal-fired power plants in the next few years despite a plea from the president to keep one of the plants open.
Earlier this week, the president posted an oddly specific tweet that urged the government-owned utility to save the 49-year-old Paradise 3 plant in Kentucky. It so happens that the facility burns coal supplied by Murray Energy Corporation, whose CEO is Robert Murray, is a major Trump donor.