House Dems demand records on Trump’s climate rollbacks

Leading House Democrats, weeks away from taking over the majority in the lower chamber, are demanding records and information from the Trump administration’s rollbacks of numerous climate change policies at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Rep. Frank Pallone Jr.Frank Joseph PalloneHillicon Valley: EU hits Google with .7 billion antitrust fine | GOP steps up attack over tech bias claims | Dems ask FTC for budget wishlist | Justices punt on Google privacy settlement Dems ask FTC if it needs more money to protect privacy Trump officials take bold steps on Medicaid MORE (D-N.J.), slated to become chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, sent a letter Tuesday to acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler seeking answers as to why the agency is weakening or eliminating rules meant to limit greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, cars, and oil and natural gas drillers.

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The letter is likely an opening salvo to more extensive investigations that the Democrats are planning after Jan. 3, when the new Congress is sworn in and they have the majority of the seats.

The majority will give Pallone the committee's gavel, as well as the ability to set the agenda, compel witnesses to testify and demand documents with subpoenas.

For now, however, Pallone and the top Democrats on two subcommittees — Reps. Paul TonkoPaul David TonkoDem divisions deepen over approach to climate change Overnight Energy: Interior chief moves to protect access to public lands | Dem rolls out climate plan meant to appeal to GOP | LA County bans weed killer Roundup Top Dem lawmaker rolls out climate plan to appeal to GOP MORE (N.Y.) and Diana DeGetteDiana Louise DeGetteOvernight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — FDA issues proposal to limit sales of flavored e-cigs | Trump health chief gets grilling | Divisions emerge over House drug pricing bills | Dems launch investigation into short-term health plans Overnight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — Dems push Pelosi on bill allowing federal funding of abortion | Key Republican says Dems left him out of drug pricing talks | Court upholds Ohio law to defund Planned Parenthood | Trump taps acting FDA chief House Dems to push Pelosi for vote on bill that would allow federal funding of abortion MORE (Colo.) — are just asking questions.

Despite dire climate warnings like a recent United Nations report, “EPA has engaged in the systematic dismantling of critical climate initiatives and public health protections,” they wrote.

“Furthermore, EPA continues to champion policies that would result in massive increases in greenhouse gas emissions with no regard for the associated climate or public health impacts,” the lawmakers continued.

“Combined, the administration’s rollbacks willfully turn a blind eye to the dangers of climate change, putting American communities at risk and diverting EPA’s mission to protect human health and the environment.”

The letter also provides a window into the EPA policies that the Democrats are likely to focus their attention on. It scrutinizes the proposals to repeal the Clean Power Plan and replace it with a far weaker alternative that environmentalists say could increase greenhouse gas emissions, to repeal future plans to increase car fuel efficiency standards, and to repeal methane emissions standards for oil and natural gas drillers.

Pallone and the likely chairmen of the Natural Resources and Science subcommittees announced last week plans to hold two days of hearings on climate change early next year.