Overnight Energy: House Dems at odds over how to handle climate change | Trump shows support to California over wildfires | Zinke calls fires worse than Iraq war zones

Overnight Energy: House Dems at odds over how to handle climate change | Trump shows support to California over wildfires | Zinke calls fires worse than Iraq war zones
© Stefani Reynolds

DEMS SPLIT ON FUTURE CLIMATE COMMITTEE: House Democrats are eager to elevate climate issues when they take over the House majority next year but are facing disagreement on how best to do so.

Lawmakers are split on how to handle the task of confronting climate change, an issue urgently highlighted in a recent United Nations panel report and largely supported by progressive voters.

The division is creating a split in ranks between likely House Majority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiSekulow indicates White House not interested in motion to dismiss impeachment articles Overnight Health Care: Trump restores funding for Texas program that bars Planned Parenthood | Trump to attend March for Life | PhRMA spent record on 2019 lobbying Key House committee chairman to meet with Mnuchin on infrastructure next week MORE (D-Calif.), who has suggested re-establishing a select committee to support the science behind climate change, and others who think the committee will either do too little or step on too many toes.


Pelosi's idea, which she started to push in October, would be similar to the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming that ran from 2007 to 2011, when the Democrats last had control.

"I have recommended to my House Democratic colleagues that we reinstate the select committee to address the climate crisis. House Democrats ran on and won on our bold campaign for a $1 trillion investment in our infrastructure that will make our communities more resilient to the climate crisis, while creating 16 million new good-paying jobs across the country. Pelosi said Tuesday as dozens of young activists occupied her office, demanding strong climate action.

The idea has generated support from some Democrats who are looking for any opportunity to bring climate change back to the forefront of the national dialogue.

"Trying to elevate that issue, to restore it to consideration on the national agenda, I think, is a good thing," said Rep. Gerry ConnollyGerald (Gerry) Edward ConnollyTrump, Democrats set for brawl on Iran war powers Overnight Defense: Iran crisis eases as Trump says Tehran 'standing down' | Dems unconvinced on evidence behind Soleimani strike | House sets Thursday vote on Iran war powers Democrats 'utterly unpersuaded' by evidence behind Soleimani strike MORE (D-Va.).

"I think it elevates the issue, and it desperately needs elevation, given the drought [in legislation] we've had over the last eight years with a Republican Congress and in the last two with Trump, where we actually have denial of science."

Rep. Jared HuffmanJared William HuffmanDemocrats reach cusp of impeachment Democrats gear up for high-stakes Judiciary hearing Pelosi heading to Madrid for UN climate change convention MORE (D-Calif.) said he understood objections from lawmakers, but nonetheless recognized a "coordinating" function for a special panel.

"We need to understand that climate is an issue that cuts across our arbitrary jurisdictional lines. And if we're going to really do what we need to do on climate change, we're going to have policies that I would think involve at least four committees, if not more," he said.


But others in the House, some of who served when the select committee was last functioning, recall the body as largely symbolic but lacking teeth. It didn't have the power to vote on legislation, and the most consequential bill it helped push -- the American Clean Energy and Security Act -- died in 2010 when the Senate stopped trying to pass its own accompanying legislation.

The new committee would likely also be investigatory body that could hold hearings and write reports, but not vote on legislation.

Freshman and incoming Democratic lawmakers are instead asking for a select committee focused instead on a more forward looking initiative, like increasing the use of renewable energy.

Read more here.


Happy Wednesday! Welcome to Overnight Energy, The Hill's roundup of the latest energy and environment news.

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TRUMP OFFERS SUPPORT TO CALIFORNIA ON WILDFIRES: President TrumpDonald John TrumpMnuchin knocks Greta Thunberg's activism: Study economics and then 'come back' to us The Hill's Morning Report - House prosecutes Trump as 'lawless,' 'corrupt' What to watch for on Day 3 of Senate impeachment trial MORE spoke Wednesday with California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) to offer support as the state deals with catastrophic wildfires, a shift in tone after the two men exchanged barbs over the fires a few days earlier.

"Just spoke to Governor Jerry Brown to let him know that we are with him, and the people of California, all the way!" Trump wrote on Twitter.

Brown was in Northern California on Wednesday to tour damage from the Camp Fire that has ravaged that part of the state and killed 48 people. A separate fire raging in Southern California has killed two people in recent days.

He told reporters there that he spoke with Trump, who pledged "the full resources of the Federal Government." Brown added that he will issue an executive order intended to speed up the recovery process.

"So, I think now is the time for solidarity and understanding and let's learn how to do this together in the best way we can, and get ready because we're always under some kind of threat," Brown said.


The president has clashed with Brown repeatedly since taking office, particularly on issues related to immigration and environmental policies.

Trump previously blamed the state's water management policies for wildfires, and over the weekend attracted widespread criticism when he blamed poor forest management for the latest round of wildfires that have displaced tens of thousands of residents and scorched thousands of homes. He threatened to withhold federal funding for the state.

Brown's office hit back on Sunday, saying in a statement that the governor is focused on the Californians impacted by these fires and the first responders and firefighters working around the clock to save lives and property -- not on the president's "inane and uninformed tweets."

The president has in recent days taken a more conventional approach toward the tragedy, offering condolences via Twitter for those impacted and signing a major disaster declaration on Monday to provide additional federal aid to affected areas.

Interior Secretary Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeEurope deepens energy dependence on Russia Overnight Energy: House Science Committee hits EPA with subpoenas | California sues EPA over Trump revoking emissions waiver | Interior disbands board that floated privatization at national parks Interior disbands advisory board that floated privatization at national parks MORE traveled to California on Wednesday to tour damaged areas and to meet with Brown. Zinke canceled a previously planned official visit to Asia to make the trip, an Interior spokesperson told The Hill.

Read more here.



More in California wildfire news...


ZINKE CALLS CALIFORNIA WILDFIRE 'WORSE THAN ANY WAR ZONE I SAW IN IRAQ': Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke on Wednesday called the California wildfire devastation "worse than any war zone I saw in Iraq" during his visit to the state.

Zinke, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Brock Long and other administration officials toured areas impacted by the wildfires on Wednesday.

"Every time I come to California I say this is the worst fire I've seen," tweeted Zinke, a former Navy SEAL. "Once again this is the absolute worst. Worse than any war zone I saw in Iraq. The heroism of firefighters is amazing."

The wildfires ravaging areas of northern and southern California are the most destructive and deadly in California's history, with a death toll of 50 and hundreds missing.

After observing the devastation in Paradise, Calif., in the northern part of the state, the FEMA head said it is "one of the worst disasters I've seen in my career, hands down," BuzzFeed News reported.


California Gov. Jerry Brown (D), who visited Butte County, Calif. with the federal officials, also compared the scene to a "war zone."

"This is so devastating," Brown said, according to local outlet the Daily Democrat. "I really don't have the words to describe it. It looks like a war zone."

Read more here.



The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a confirmation hearing on three nominees: David Vela to be director of the National Park Service, Bernard McNamee to be a member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and Rita Baranwal to be assistant secretary for nuclear energy at the Energy Department.

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will hold a hearing on funding needs for wildlife conservation.

The House Natural Resources Committee will hold a markup meeting to consider nine bills in its jurisdiction.



Adrian Duhalt, a postdoctoral fellow for the Center for Energy Studies at Rice University, argues the new Mexican president must account for the U.S. shale revolution



-West Coast crab fisherman sue 30 fossil fuel companies, citing economic losses due to climate change

-VW will convert two more German plants to build EVs



Check out Wednesday's stories ...

-Zinke: California wildfire destruction 'worse than any war zone I saw in Iraq'

-Trump offers support to California governor amid feud over wildfires

-Interior credits increased fossil fuel production for jump in revenue from federal lands

-Dems to hold two days of hearings on climate

-Top Dem: Climate change committee 'not necessary'

-Death toll in Northern California wildfire rises to 48: authorities