House Holds Climate Hearing

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The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power held a hearing today entitled “The Obama Administration’s Climate Change Policies and Activities.” President Obama introduced his administration’s Climate Action Plan early this summer and the hearing focused on the plan and also what has been done previously to combat climate change and what has to be done in the future.

Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY) and Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) in their opening statements thanked EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and DOE Secretary Ernest Moniz for attending the hearing and at the same time expressed disappointment that they never received a response from eleven other federal agencies. Chairman Upton also in his statement said that the administration is now trying to circumvent congress by attempting to regulate climate change because it was unable to legislate it. Ranking member Henry Waxman (D-CA) said in his opening statement that the House Republicans need to present a plan if they are not in agreement with the President’s climate plan.

DOE Secretary Moniz said in his testimony that “the evidence is overwhelming, the science is clear, and the threat from climate change is real and urgent.” Moniz went on to address such issues as domestic mitigation, adaptation and the role an international effort will play in fighting climate change. EPA Administrator McCarthy said that more than 97% of climate scientists are convinced that human caused climate change is occurring and if nothing is done it will have devastating impacts. McCarthy went on to examine the role EPA will play in implementing part of the administration’s plan.

During the Q&A portion of the hearing, Rep. Waxman asked Secretary Moniz if it was too late to protect the country from the worst impacts of climate change. Moniz responded saying it is not too late, but action has to occur within the next decade. Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) went all in on both Administrator McCarthy and Secretary Moniz by asking them about nine questions the committee requested answers for prior to the hearing. Neither, the Administrator or the Secretary had replied with answers to the questions. Secretary Moniz began to answer the questions as time expired, both witnesses said they would provide answers. Rep. Scalise (R-LA) asked both the witnesses to look at what is happening with carbon programs worldwide. He mentioned Australia, who is now planning to move away from a carbon tax and the EU where he said current programs are failing, jobs are being lost and energy costs are rising.

It is unclear what the next step will be in the process towards climate action, as there is a considerable amount of disagreement at the present moment.  The possibility remains for future hearings with other agencies to provide a more complete situation of the current picture before there is a next step in the process.