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House panel agrees to prioritize climate change

The Republican-led House Natural Resources Committee agreed to put climate change on its agenda over the next two years.

The panel, led by Rep. Rob BishopRob BishopHouse passes National Park Service centennial bill House GOP picks two women to lead committees Trump's Interior candidates would play Russian roulette with West MORE (R-Utah), voted unanimously Wednesday to include climate change and its impacts on natural resources as a subject in its oversight plan.

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Thanks to an amendment sponsored by ranking member Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), the committee said it will “conduct oversight of global climate change and impacts on federal lands and resources and the strategies for using federal lands, oceans and other resources to mitigate harmful effects.”

In introducing the amendment, Grijalva said that many members of the panel, not just Democrats, are concerned with climate change and “the committee’s ability to deal with that issue in a way that provides real information and begins to look at possible solutions for public lands, oceans and other resources that fall under the jurisdiction of this committee.”

A committee aide said Bishop and the Republicans agreed to the climate change provision in an effort to set a “tone of collegiality and working across the aisle.” It is the first time in the committee’s history that a majority party has agreed to a minority change to the oversight plan, the aide said.

Democrats first asked that the panel examine the human impact of climate change, but after Republican objection, struck out that provision.

The vote came a week after the Senate voted overwhelmingly that climate change is real. But very few Senate Republicans voted that human activity causes it.

Apart from that change, the plan adopted by the committee emphasizes responsible development of energy resources on federal land and offshore, examining regulatory burdens and encouraging better collaboration between the federal government and state, local and tribal governments.

“Despite recent rhetoric from the president touting an uptick in the economy and energy production largely on private lands, the Obama administration is significantly ramping up regulations and other actions that are adversely impacting the U.S. economy,” Bishop said at the meeting.

“National resources, including energy resources, are going untapped and unmanaged. All of this comes at the expense of a rising national debt, now above $18 trillion, and lost economic opportunities for local communities.”

Two of the top targets for Republicans will be the National Environmental Policy Act and the Endangered Species Act, which they say can harm economic development, agriculture, energy development and other important activities.

Bishop said he hoped that the panel could work in a respectful way, even on the issues that do not enjoy bipartisan agreement.

“While we may not agree on every issue, I know [Grijalva] shares my view that we can disagree without being disagreeable,” he said. “We have much to accomplish this Congress, and I am looking forward to areas we can work together and a mutual respect for different, and at times, passionate points of view.”