House Republicans on Wednesday hammered a new Obama administration request for federal agencies to consider climate change impacts in environmental reviews of proposed projects.
The guidance, finalized by the White House’s Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) in August, sets standards for how agencies can incorporate climate change into their permitting evaluations under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
Republicans oppose the change, saying the new guidance will slow down permitting for projects like oil and gas drilling and pipeline construction that already needs to go through NEPA reviews.
“For CEQ, it appears advancing a questionable agenda at all costs is more important than ensuring that the law and science and sound economic reasoning are going to be honored,” House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob BishopRobert (Rob) William BishopGOP's Westerman looks to take on Democrats on climate change House Republicans who didn't sign onto the Texas lawsuit OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Westerman tapped as top Republican on House Natural Resources Committee | McMorris Rodgers wins race for top GOP spot on Energy and Commerce | EPA joins conservative social network Parler MORE (R-Utah) said during a Wednesday hearing.
Bishop tied the guidance to climate-related executive actions pursued by the Obama administration.
“This administration’s concept that the end justifies the means, not going through Congress and finding other ways of accomplishing its goals, stretches the limits of the Constitution,” he said.
Democrats and CEQ Managing Director Christy Goldfuss defended the guidance, saying it will help address climate change, which Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) called the “mother of all environmental issues.”
The guidance will help “merely understand the carbon impact of our federal decisions,” said Grijalva, the committee’s top Democrat.
“By counseling federal agencies on how to consider climate change in their NEPA reviews, our final guidance builds on the administration’s efforts to address climate change and build a more resilient future,” Goldfuss said.
Along with the CEQ’s guidance, committee Republicans also took aim at climate science generally.
One member insisted there are more factors behind recent wildfire activity than higher temperatures. Another read a news article from the 1920s about warming seas to conclude, “global warming has been going on for a long time.”
“As a holder of a degree in Agriculture, a Bachelor of Science, I’m glad to hear that we’re concerned about the production of CO2. All the plants I’ve ever grown love CO2,” Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-Calif.) said.
He asked Goldfuss: “What percentage of climate change or CO2 is caused by man-made actions?”
“We’re going to have a difference of opinion on this,” Goldfuss said. “We know, and what I know, is what our scientists tell us, which is that climate change is happening now and that humans are contributing.”
LaMalfa asked, “which group of scientists?”
“The vast majority,” Goldfuss replied.