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 PalloneLawmakers discussing potential compromise to revive drug pricing measure House Democrats announce bill to rein in tech algorithms House Democrats ramp up probe of FDA approval of Alzheimer's drug 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.
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 Biden administration's first year: Slow and steady does not win this race Hillicon Valley — Inside the Twitter shakeup Lawmakers take aim at 'Grinches' using bots to target consumers during holidays MORE (N.Y.) and Diana DeGetteDiana Louise DeGetteNebraska Republican tests positive for COVID-19 in latest congressional breakthrough case The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Voting rights week for Democrats (again) Maryland Democrat announces positive COVID-19 test 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.