House climate hearing draws EPA, Energy Dept. chiefs – and that’s it

Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), who chairs the Energy and Environment Subcommittee holding the hearing, wrote to 13 federal agencies in early August asking them to send a witness to the hearing.

He sent agencies an early September follow-up letter after only EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz RSVP’d.

But while the current witness list is small, McCarthy and Moniz head agencies that are central to President Obama’s second-term climate agenda, which rests largely on executive actions that don’t need congressional approval.

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The EPA is crafting carbon emissions standards for new and existing power plants.

The draft rules for new plants are slated to be unveiled next week. According to published reports and someone who has seen the rule, it would require new plants to be equipped with technology that captures a large amount of the carbon emissions.

Coal industry and GOP critics of the rule note this is a de-facto ban on new coal plants because carbon capture and storage technology is far from widespread commercialization.

The Energy Department, meanwhile, is tasked with speeding up development of appliance energy efficiency standards, working with other agencies on a strategy to curb emissions of the greenhouse gas methane from gas drilling sites, and other tasks.