Overnight Energy: John Kerry hits Trump over climate change at hearing | Defends Ocasio-Cortez from GOP attacks | Dems grill EPA chief over auto emissions rollback plan

OBAMA SECRETARIES SAY CLIMATE CHANGE ALREADY AFFECTING NATIONAL SECURITY: Former Secretary of State John KerryJohn Forbes KerryWill we ever have another veteran as president? The Memo: Can Trump run as an outsider? The Hill's Morning Report - Trump's reelection message: Promises kept MORE swiped at President TrumpDonald John TrumpConway defends herself against Hatch Act allegations amid threat of subpoena How to defuse Gulf tensions and avoid war with Iran Trump says 'stubborn child' Fed 'blew it' by not cutting rates MORE while voicing concerns about the effects of global climate change on U.S. national security during an appearance Wednesday on Capitol Hill

Kerry and former Defense Secretary Chuck HagelCharles (Chuck) Timothy HagelOvernight Defense: Senators plan 22 resolutions to block Saudi arms sale | Trump defends transgender military plan | Trump, lawmakers prep to mark D-Day anniversary The Hill's Morning Report - Mueller finally speaks. What now? Swalwell says he will convene a bipartisan 'blended cabinet' if elected president MORE, who both served under former President Obama, referred to climate change as a multiplier effect on a number of pressing security issues while testifying during a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing.

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"Unfortunately, instead of mobilizing efforts to fight climate change, President Trump has attacked the science, weakened environmental protections, and undermined U.S. leadership abroad," Kerry told lawmakers.

"I understand there may be differences of opinion on how we should respond, but there should be no uncertainty about whether we should respond. ... Each day that we fail to act on climate change, we are risking the health and security of future generations."

Climate's effects: Kerry and Hagel mentioned climate change's effects on migration patterns, security of military infrastructure, recruitment of terrorists and food security. They also put a focus on extreme weather events.

"This past year's extreme weather has seriously affected our military readiness," Hagel said, naming military bases that have recently been damaged by severe weather.

Trump climate committee: The former Obama Cabinet members also took aim at Trump's plan to form a committee to reevaluate the scientific consensus surrounding climate change, with Kerry referring to the plan as "a scheme to pretend there are two sides to an issue long since settled."

A growing number of agencies have informed the National Security Council that they do not plan to participate in the climate committee. A number of security experts have also voiced concern over the climate's potential impact, with Director of National Intelligence Dan CoatsDaniel (Dan) Ray CoatsCNN's Jake Tapper repeatedly presses Pence on whether he thinks climate change is a threat Hillicon Valley: Tim Cook visits White House | House hearing grapples with deepfake threat | Bill, Melinda Gates launch lobbying group | Tech turns to K-Street in antitrust fight | Lawsuit poses major threat to T-Mobile, Sprint merger House Intel to take first major deep dive into threat of 'deepfakes' MORE saying that climate change would increase "the risk of social unrest, migration, and interstate tension."

Kerry, who was involved in negotiations on the Paris climate accord during the Obama administration, said Tuesday that millions of people may "have to move because they can't eat, can't drink. The instability that is created would be manna from heaven for extremists."

"That becomes the concern of our military that has people posted around the world in these locations, fighting terrorism, trying to protect the United States of America," he said.

Republicans hit back: The hearing, scheduled by Democrats in control of the Oversight Committee, was put on to address the intersection of climate change and national security, but several Republicans on the panel used their speaking time to slam the Green New Deal introduced earlier this year by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-Cortez2020 primary debate guide: Everything you need to know ahead of the first Democratic showdown Young activists press for change in 2020 election Ocasio-Cortez calls out Steve King, Liz Cheney amid controversy over concentration camp remarks MORE (D-N.Y.) and other progressives aimed at combatting climate change.

Rep. Jody HiceJody Brownlow HiceOversight Republicans: 'Hundreds' of migrants in caravans have criminal histories House conservatives want information on TSA policies for undocumented immigrants Second Republican blocks disaster aid bill's passage in House MORE (R-Ga.) told the committee he plans to try and force a House vote on the Green New Deal once Congress returns from its Easter recess.

"The Green New Deal as a resolution is important because it sets forth a precedent, a clear choice for the American people; it sets forth a clear choice between two parties on a very important issue," Hice said, characterizing the policy as increasing household energy bills, eliminating fossil fuels and requiring removal of a large portion of U.S. vehicles off the road.

"On the other side you have groups that believe in free market enterprise, believe in federalism, believe competition, capitalism, believe that the best way to address this is to get the federal government out of it," he added.

Read more here.

 

But after the attacks on the Green New Deal...

 

KERRY DEFENDS OCASIO-CORTEZ: Kerry defended freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) for offering "more leadership in one day or one week than President Trump has in his lifetime" on climate change.

Kerry also criticized Republicans for a failure to offer up a proposal of their own.

"There are a lot of proposals, but none of them are coming from your party or your side of the aisle," Kerry told Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.), who had pushed Kerry to explain how the nation would pay for the Green New Deal.

Kerry came under a fair amount of criticism himself, with Rep. Thomas MassieThomas Harold MassieThis week: Democrats move funding bills as caps deal remains elusive House conservative's procedural protest met with bipartisan gripes Trump signs long-awaited .1B disaster aid bill MORE (R-Ky.) calling Kerry a "pseudo scientist" in reference to his political science degree.

"Mr. Chairman, this is just not a serious conversation," Kerry said in response to the exchange.

Ocasio-Cortez responded on Twitter, saying she was "honored and humbled" by Kerry's remark.

Read more here.

 

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BUDGET HEARING FOCUSES ON EMISSIONS ROLLBACK: Democrats on Tuesday grilled Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) head Andrew Wheeler over his agency's decision to roll back an Obama-era fuel emissions standard.

While the hearing before the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on environment and climate change was meant to critique the agency's 2020 budget plan, Wheeler faced numerous questions from lawmakers about his agency's not-yet-finalized plan to weaken the emissions standards for cars and light trucks.

"This proposed action is a perfect example of how EPA prioritizes boosting industries like the oil industry over public safety," said Rep. Doris MatsuiDoris Okada MatsuiOvernight Health Care: Key Trump drug pricing proposal takes step forward | Missouri Planned Parenthood clinic loses bid for license | 2020 Democrats to take part in Saturday forum on abortion rights The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by MAPRx — Trump calls off Iran strike at last minute Overnight Health Care: Court allows Trump abortion referral ban to take effect | GOP group launches M blitz against 'Medicare for All' | Star GOP lawyer raises constitutional concerns with surprise billing legislation MORE (D-Calif).

Democratic lawmakers lobbed Wheeler with critical questions about the plan, officially proposed last August. EPA officials argued when submitting the proposal that the previous emissions standards determined under Obama and agreed to by U.S. automakers were limiting the car industry.

Wheeler told lawmakers Tuesday that the new plan would be just as strong on cutting emissions.

"I've been told by my staff that the impact of CO2 emissions are pretty similar to the Obama proposal, because the Obama proposal had a number of exemptions and off-ramps and many car auto makers are not complying with standards today," Wheeler told members.

The Golden State: Yet lawmakers' biggest concerns involved EPA's announcement in February that negotiations had ended with California -- a state that argues it has an exemption under the Clean Air Act to regulate its own emissions standards.

California's government is arguing that the new emissions plan is not stringent enough to mitigate smog and global warming. On Monday, the state sued the EPA to get the agency's internal data used to draft the emissions policy. A larger suit against the agency's plan is expected.

"California is uniquely situated and has some of the worst air quality. It has a unique authority to regulate emissions," Matsui told Wheeler Tuesday.

She blamed the EPA for cutting off conversations with California's Air and Resource Board (CARM) Chair Mary Nichols. A failure to reach a consensus with the state could mean the creation of more than one national emissions standard-- a reality auto groups argue will be financially challenging to the industry.

"If you actually engaged in good faith with California auto manufactures you could get a 50 states solution through an agreement-- although you state this, you never really tried," said Matsui.

Read more here.

 

FROM THE HILL'S OPINION SECTION:

Despite the recent Senate debate on the Green New Deal full of play-acting and show votes, members from both parties now appear open to meaningful dialogue on tackling greenhouse gas emissions, argues Carter Roberts, president and CEO of World Wildlife Fund.

 

OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY:

Midwest floods are impacting oil prices, Reuters reports.

Norway refuses to drill for billions of barrels of oil in the Arctic, from The Hill.

Many U.S. cities are rapidly growing their solar capacity, Industry Dive reports.

PG&E among utilities cited for failing to protect against cyber and physical attacks, The Wall Street Journal reports

NY mayor offers $30M in state funding available for electric grid projects, the Associated Press reports

 

ON TAP WEDNESDAY:

In the House, the Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands will review the spending priorities of the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management

The Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy will discuss energy efficiency and workforce diversity

The House Appropriations Subcommitee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies will discuss the economic opportunities of sustainable farming practices.

Over in the Senate, the Committee on Environment and Public Works will review S. 383 and S. 747 dealing with emissions.

The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development will review the budget for the Army Corps of Engineers & Bureau of Reclamation

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

-Several agencies refusing to take part in Trump's committee to reassess climate science: report

-John Kerry: Ocasio-Cortez offered 'more leadership in one day' than Trump on climate

-Norway refuses to drill for billions of barrels of oil in Arctic region

-Dems grill EPA chief over auto emissions rollback plan

-Kerry goes after Trump over climate on Capitol Hill