Dems to hold two days of hearings on climate

Dems to hold two days of hearings on climate
© Greg Nash

House Democrats are planning to hold two days' worth of hearings on the impacts of climate change and potential solutions to it when they take the House majority next year.

The likely chairmen of the Energy and Commerce, Natural Resources and Science committees said in a joint statement Wednesday that their panels will be an attempt to bring back climate debate after eight years of GOP control of the chamber, when leaders downplayed the issue.

Democrats gained dozens of seats when they won the House last week, and have in part credited progressive activism to get them there. The early announcement of hearings is in part a bid to show climate activists that the Democrats take the issue seriously.

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“Our rapidly changing climate, and the Trump administration's efforts to take us in the wrong direction, seriously jeopardize our future,” Reps. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Eddie Bernice JohnsonEddie Bernice JohnsonOvernight Energy: Zinke joins Trump-tied lobbying firm | Senators highlight threat from invasive species | Top Republican calls for Green New Deal vote in House Congress can stop the war on science Black Caucus sees power grow with new Democratic majority MORE (D-Texas) said in their joint written statement.

“We plan to hit the ground immediately with a series of hearings early in the next Congress on how best to combat this growing global crisis,” they said. “Our committees plan to work closely together to aggressively assess the public health, economic and environmental impacts of climate change and to explore the best solutions to combat this challenge.”

Pallone is the top Democrat in Energy and Commerce, Grijalva is the top Democrat in Natural Resources and Johnson is the top Democrat in Science. No other lawmakers have stated intents to challenge them for chairmanships next year.

The committees did not provide further details about the hearings, such as the witnesses or structure.

The announcement of the hearings comes amid a growing rift within the Democratic caucus about how to proceed on climate policy.

Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiNational emergency declaration — a legal fight Trump is likely to win Congress allows Violence Against Women Act to lapse High stakes as Trump, Dems open drug price talks MORE (D-Calif.), the leading contender to become speaker, wants to reestablish a select committee dedicated to investigating climate change. But progressive activists, some of whom protested at Pelosi’s office Tuesday — along with Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) — want Democrats to take more aggressive action, and want the special panel to have more authority, including to write legislation.

But Pallone said the special panel is “not necessary,” citing the work his existing committee and others can do on climate.

“We have very strong champions for addressing climate change — not only on my committee, but the other committees of jurisdiction — that are going to move very aggressively on the issue of climate change,” he said Wednesday. “So I don’t think it’s necessary to have a special committee.”