By Julian Hattem - 09/17/13 03:52 PM EDT
On Tuesday, the caucus heard from ranchers, farmers and others affected by recent wildfires, droughts and storms across the country.
Members on the panel expressed concern that Congress has not been acting strongly enough to protect Americans affected by the extreme weather events.
“The extraction industries are getting what they’re paying for,” said Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.). “This has been the most irresponsible Congress in terms of the magnitude of the crisis that we face. We’re looking the other way. We’re trying to pretend it doesn’t happen or lying with regard to the information that is certainly available to every member.”
Moran accused Republicans of trying to cut the legs out from underneath the Environmental Protection Agency and Energy Department during the appropriations process.
“The Congress is sleepwalking,” added Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.).
This week, the Obama administration is expected to unveil draft regulations to limit the amount of greenhouse gas emissions from new power plants.
Republicans and the energy industry have been skeptical about the new rules. On Wednesday, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy will appear before the House Energy and Commerce Committee to discuss those rules and the president’s broader second-term efforts to crack down on climate threats.
Waxman predicted that Republicans on the committee would push back against the EPA chief's testimony.
“She’s going to hear from a lot of people who say ‘Why should we undertake the cost of doing these things?’” he said.
However, Waxman said that the potential prices to be paid by refusing to act with new pollution controls would be much higher.
“There’s enormous costs — enormous costs — financial and human, to the consequences of doing nothing about climate change,” he said.
Wednesday's hearing was being called “by people who don’t want to know about climate change, but we think it’s important,” he said.
Democrats said that the committee's hearing would miss the full picture by ignoring business owners and people affected firsthand by climate change.