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 PalloneFacebook takes down anti-NATO pages linked to Russia Overnight Health Care: Dem chair plans hearing on Medicare for all | Senate GOP talks drug prices with Trump health chief | PhRMA CEO hopeful Trump reverses course on controversial pricing proposal Dem chairwoman plans hearing on Medicare for all proposals 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 TonkoThe new Democratic Congress has an opportunity to move legislation to help horses The Year Ahead: Dems under pressure to deliver on green agenda Progressives say dire climate reports point to need for ‘Green New Deal’ MORE (N.Y.) and Diana DeGetteDiana Louise DeGetteAbortion foes march into divided Washington Overnight Health Care: Dem chair plans hearing on Medicare for all | Senate GOP talks drug prices with Trump health chief | PhRMA CEO hopeful Trump reverses course on controversial pricing proposal Overnight Health Care: Dem chair meets Trump health chief on drug prices | Trump officials sued over new Kentucky Medicaid work rules | Democrats vow to lift ban on federal funds for abortions 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.