House Natural Resources Committee Will Prioritize Climate Change in Next Congress

 

House Natural Resources Committee Chairman, Raúl Grijalva. Image: Grijalva Office

by Amy Lupica, ODP Contributing Writer

The House Committee on Natural Resources has announced that it will prioritize climate change and environmental justice in the 117th Congress. Representative Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) will remain the committee chair for the next congress and said ahead of the election that regardless of its outcome, the Committee would prioritize these issues in its hearings and legislation. In a recent op-ed published in The Hill, Grijalva expressed frustration with the Trump administration’s management of public lands and Indigenous communities, emphasizing that, without swift change, damage to national parks could be irreparable.

Why This Matters: The Trump administration has spent four years rolling back protections and allowing new development in National Parks and other public lands. In many cases, the development and destruction of these public lands destroyed sacred Indigenous sites

Indigenous communities are some of the most impacted by climate change in the United States and are often left out of conversations about the use of public lands they rely on for their way of life. Chairman Grijalva said that Trump “has systematically silenced communities of color and given polluters more political power and cover from public scrutiny.”

It’s crucial that Congressional Democrats continue to hold hearings on these crucial issues after nearly a decade of them being silenced under a Republican-controlled House. 

The Shady Record: The Trump administration has opened the Tongass National Forest to logging, stripped protections for Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments in Utah, and bulldozed plant life in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument to make way for the failed border wall. Additionally, the government shutdowns that have plagued the Trump administration left national parks unguarded and unprotected, resulting in vandalism

Chairman Grijalva and the House Committee on Natural Resources have previously held hearings on the impact of the oil and gas industry, citing the excessive damage done by the industry, as well as the apparent preference granted to corporations by the Trump administration. “For far too long, public policy has treated oil and gas company profit margins as more important than public health and the environment,” he explained. “Our goal is to restore some balance. Fossil fuel companies have gotten sweetheart deals on public lands because their Republican allies in Congress have blocked efforts to update our energy laws.” 

Previous hearings and roundtables held by Rep. Grijalva’s committee have also shown that the public broadly supports these goals. 

Chairman Grijalva will be in good company; Representative Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) is expected to remain the chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and has shown his commitment to climate issues within the agenda of his powerful committee. In September, the committee released a draft of a major climate action bill that would seek to decarbonize the entire U.S. economy by 2050.

Additionally, the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, previously chaired by the late-Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-MD) when Democrats reclaimed the House in 2019, has also set a commitment to exposing polluters and focusing on environmental justice which will hopefully continue to dovetail with the work of the Natural Resources and E&C committees.

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