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 CastorOvernight Energy: Military sees surge in sites contaminated by 'forever chemicals' | USDA closes office wing due to coronavirus | Watchdog raises concerns over Trump energy regulator Biden seeks to capitalize on Super Tuesday surprise M ad buy praises swing-district Democrats' environmental work 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 WarrenDemocrats seize on Trump's firing of intelligence community watchdog Biden says his administration could help grow 'bench' for Democrats Overnight Health Care: CDC recommends face coverings in public | Resistance to social distancing sparks new worries | Controversy over change of national stockpile definition | McConnell signals fourth coronavirus bill 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 SandersSome Sanders top allies have urged him to withdraw from 2020 race: report We're at war and need wartime institutions to keep our economy producing what's necessary Larry David: Bernie Sanders should drop out of 2020 race MORE (I-Vt.) and Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerEnlisting tech to fight coronavirus sparks surveillance fears Democrats urge administration to automatically issue coronavirus checks to more people Democrats ask EPA, Interior to pause rulemaking amid coronavirus 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 PelosiPelosi eyes end of April to bring a fourth coronavirus relief bill to the floor Pelosi, Democrats using coronavirus to push for big tax cuts for blue state residents US watchdog vows 'aggressive' oversight after intel official fired 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 TrumpPelosi eyes end of April to bring a fourth coronavirus relief bill to the floor NBA to contribute 1 million surgical masks to NY essential workers Private equity firm with ties to Kushner asks Trump administration to relax rules on loan program: report 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 McConnellPelosi eyes end of April to bring a fourth coronavirus relief bill to the floor Progressive group knocks McConnell for talking judicial picks during coronavirus Overnight Health Care: CDC recommends face coverings in public | Resistance to social distancing sparks new worries | Controversy over change of national stockpile definition | McConnell signals fourth coronavirus bill 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.