Democrat to Republicans: Climate hearing will be on science, not politics

The Senate Environment Committee’s top Democrat is rejecting GOP calls to force Obama administration officials to defend the new White House climate plan at a hearing next week.

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) said Thursday that next week’s hearing will focus on climate science testimony from outside experts, but that federal officials would appear in the future.

“I’m trying to keep politics out of this first hearing, and trying to focus in on non-political people who are scientists to give us an update on the science, but we will look at political people in the next round,” Boxer, the chairwoman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, told reporters in the Capitol.

Her comments arrive a day after senior committee Republican Rep. David Vitter (La.) and other GOP members urged Boxer to include Obama administration witnesses next week.

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“There seems to be little point in holding a hearing on climate change policy that excludes witnesses from our own federal government to explain the national climate change ‘policy’ unilaterally established by this administration,” the Republicans wrote in a letter to Boxer.

They GOP letter alleges that the administration’s planned actions, which White House officials unveiled in late June, will be economically harmful.

Boxer parried the GOP criticism Thursday, alleging Vitter is likely seeking to bring politics into the committee’s oversight.

“I am trying to just focus on the science. And obviously [Vitter] probably wants to bring politics into it, and he can do that, but this hearing is more on the science,” she said.

The title of next week’s hearing is “Climate Change: It’s Happening Now,” according to Republicans.

Boxer said future hearings would feature local and state elected officials and administration officials.

“At that time we will certainly hear from agencies, the Obama administration, whether it is Gina McCarthy or the Council on Environmental Quality or whatever we decide at that time,” Boxer said.

McCarthy is the Environmental Protection Agency’s top air pollution regulator, and the White House nominee to run the agency.