House climate panel will study drilling ban backed by 2020 Dems

House climate panel will study drilling ban backed by 2020 Dems
© Cameron Lancaster

Rep. Kathy CastorKatherine (Kathy) Anne CastorSteyer group targeting 12 congressional Democrats over impeachment Steyer group targeting 12 congressional Democrats over impeachment Two years after Trump's Paris climate move, frustrated Democrats eye 2020 MORE (D-Fla.), chairwoman of the special House committee studying the impacts of climate change, said Friday her panel will examine a proposal by 2020 presidential hopeful Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenJulián Castro defends going on Fox: I'm focused on 'the people out there watching' Julián Castro defends going on Fox: I'm focused on 'the people out there watching' O'Rourke unveils plan to support women, minority-owned businesses MORE (D-Mass.) to ban new fossil fuel drilling on public lands and waters.

A number of other 2020 Democratic candidates — including Sens. Bernie SandersBernie SandersButtigieg on Biden's Iraq War vote: 'that vote was a mistake' Buttigieg on Biden's Iraq War vote: 'that vote was a mistake' The generational divide of Joe Biden and the Democratic Party MORE (I-Vt.) and Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerThe generational divide of Joe Biden and the Democratic Party Booker, O'Rourke, Buttigieg rally with striking McDonald's workers in South Carolina Booker, O'Rourke, Buttigieg rally with striking McDonald's workers in South Carolina MORE (D-N.J.) and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) — also have endorsed a moratorium on drilling on public lands. 

“We’re going to examine that in the Climate Crisis Committee because what the scientists are telling us now is that we’ve got to cut our carbon pollution dramatically,” Castor said during an appearance on C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers” that is set to air later Friday.

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“If we are going to have a just transition [to clean energy], especially for communities across the country that have a lot of jobs in fossil fuels, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to expand extraction, especially on public lands,” she continued. “It’s an important issue moving forward in the context of how we cut our carbon pollution.”

Several liberal lawmakers have argued that the government should ban oil and fossil fuel drilling if it wants to mitigate the effects of climate change. A recent U.S. Geological Survey report found that the extraction and burning of fossil fuels from federal lands accounted for nearly one-quarter of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions between 2005 and 2014.

With Democrats taking control of the House last fall, the incoming Speaker, Rep. Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiElection security bills face GOP buzzsaw Election security bills face GOP buzzsaw Dems eye repeal of Justice rule barring presidential indictments MORE (D-Calif.), named Castor, a close ally, to lead a new select committee examining climate change. That panel does not have the authority to write legislation, but it is tasked with offering policy recommendations to the full House Democratic Caucus by next year.

“That gives us time to take a look at [a ban],” Castor said, “but a lot of the committees now are on the front lines of turning back the damage of what the Trump administration is doing to clean air and clean water.”

Castor’s comments came a day after the House passed her bill to block President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump defends Stephanopolous interview Trump defends Stephanopolous interview Buttigieg on offers of foreign intel: 'Just call the FBI' MORE from pulling the U.S. out of the Paris climate agreement. But the legislation is going nowhere in the Senate, where Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellElection security bills face GOP buzzsaw Election security bills face GOP buzzsaw Overnight Defense: Trump doubles down on claim Iran attacked tankers | Iran calls accusations 'alarming' | Top nuke official quietly left Pentagon | Pelosi vows Congress will block Saudi arms sale MORE (R-Ky.) has vowed to be a “Grim Reaper” for what he deemed socialist bills coming out of the House.

That new nickname for McConnell has irked Castor, a seven-term lawmaker from the Tampa area who has called climate change — and related extreme weather events — extremely dangerous for American families and businesses.

“I’m very disappointed that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is calling himself the Grim Reaper,” she said. “He says he is not going to hear any important national security, health legislation, especially climate change.

“What a terrible thing to say, that you’re the Grim Reaper.”

The interview with Castor airs on C-SPAN at 10:15 p.m. EDT Friday and again at 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. EDT on Sunday.