First House hearings on climate in nearly a decade dive right into the issues

Yesterday both the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change as well as the Natural Resources Committee held hearings to address climate change, which was the first time in nearly a decade that members of the House discussed and acknowledged the issue. Energy and Commerce Subcommittee Chairman Paul Tonko (D-NY) and Natural Resources Chairman Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) both emphasized the dire need to act on climate and that American lives and livelihoods depend on it. In fact, Tonko called the challenge to slow climate change “a new generation’s Sputnik moment”, recalling the Space Race he witnessed as a child and the call to American ingenuity. While a good amount Republicans on both committees acknowledged that climate change is real, likely caused by humans, and that there needs to be Congressional action, they were more in favor of an “all of the above” approach when it comes to our energy mix rather than an expedited push toward renewable energy.

Members on both sides of the aisle indicated that they wanted to work together to “reach a solution” but it’s unclear what that solution would look like as several Republican members skirted around the issue that the only way to truly slow climate change is to drastically limit GHG emissions. One thing was certain, the Green New Deal is not something committee Republicans are keen on which could create difficulties for passing lasting and bipartisan legislation in the future. Either way, both Republicans and Democrats expressed the need for increased energy R&D to help create the technology of the future, which could be a good starting point for the members of the committees.

Additionally, during both hearings, the topic of environmental justice was routinely addressed and both Chairman Grijalva and E&C Chairman Frank Pallone (D-NJ) indicated that vulnerable communities must be represented as we work to form a national strategy on climate change. The Democrats of both committees made the focus of the hearings about people and how Congress must use its powers and authority to help, not forget, at-risk American communities. There were numerous anecdotes and witness testimonies about how climate change is already adversely affecting people and the environment and as part of Chairman Grijalva’s efforts to further learn about these effects, he recently launched an online tool for the public to share climate change stories at https://naturalresources.house.gov/climate-change. The Natural Resources Committee will continue to hold a series of hearings on climate change and the next one will be held this Thursday afternoon to debate climate change and ocean health (check out the livestream).

Why This Matters: It’s critical that our elected leaders not only acknowledge the greatest threat facing humanity but also use every bit of their power to do something about it. We simply don’t have time to slow-walk climate action and the Democratic chairmen set an important tone of urgency. If they can craft bold legislation in their committees and communicate the importance of it, they will be able to use that message on the campaign trail in 2020 to ask voters to entrust them with the Senate and the White House to make it law. We heard a lot today about green job creation, social safety nets and what Congress can do to protect at-risk communities, all important core issues to American voters.

Up Next

French Local Elections Characterized As A “Green Tsunami”

French Local Elections Characterized As A “Green Tsunami”

This past Sunday, France rode the green wave (or, as some of the French media has dubbed it, the green tsunami) as the country’s green party– Europe Ecologie Les Verts (EELV)– and its allies won big in major cities such as Lyon, Strasbourg, and Bordeaux.  And the mayor of Paris, a socialist, also won handily.

Why This Matters: The local election has already pushed Macron to act on environmental issues.

Continue Reading 438 words
House Dems Chart Course on Climate Change Action

House Dems Chart Course on Climate Change Action

Later this morning, House Democrats — Speaker Pelosi and (FOP) Representative Kathy Castor of the House Special Committee on Climate — will unveil the most detailed and sweeping proposal in a decade for dealing with the climate crisis, which reportedly also weaves environmental justice into every element of the plan. 

Why This Matters:  This is not a plan that the President can lambast as an end to capitalism.

Continue Reading 500 words
Look Folks, There Is Only One Choice For President in 2020 – Joe Biden

Look Folks, There Is Only One Choice For President in 2020 – Joe Biden

By Miro Korenha and Monica Medina When we launched Our Daily Planet over two years ago, we wanted to change the conversation about conservation and climate change – to make these issues a key part of the political and policy discussion so that they would finally be addressed. We firmly believed then and still do […]

Continue Reading 880 words