Overnight Energy & Environment

OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Republicans in campaign mode for top spots on House environmental committees | Peterson loss prompts scramble for House Agriculture chair

Photo of Bruce Westerman
Greg Nash

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MUSICAL CHAIRS: Even with vote tallying still underway, some House Republicans are already eyeing the next race, laying the groundwork for leadership positions on Congress’s environmentally-focused committees.

Natural Resources… GOP Reps. Bruce Westerman (Ark.) and Paul Gosar (Ariz.) are actively campaigning to take over on Natural Resources. 

Westerman’s background — a Yale Forestry School graduate and the sponsor of the Trillion Trees Act— will be pitted against Gosar’s Western roots, a trait shared by most other Republicans that have led the committee.

Westerman wants to help the party focus on it’s conservation message — something President Trump and others have adopted as a way to beef up an otherwise slim environmental record.

“I think we’ve got to retake the conservation narrative, something Republicans have been very strong on and can be stronger on in the future,” Westerman said. 

Westerman might be considered a safer, more traditional pick over Gosar, who has made controversial comments about “climate hoax believers” and drew attention with a series of tweets whose first letters spelled out “Epstein didn’t kill himself,” a nod to convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. 

Gosar cited the committee’s influence over the West as a factor in his interest.

“My years of service as Chairman of the bipartisan Congressional Western Caucus and status as a committee leader and Westerner, make me a great candidate for Ranking Member of the Natural Resources Committee,” he said in a statement to The Hill.

E&C… A fiercely fought contest for the broad Energy and Commerce role is already underway between GOP Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (Ore.), Michael Burgess (Texas) and Bob Latta (Ohio).

McMorris Rodgers’s pitch portrays her as a well-rounded choice to lead a large committee with broad jurisdiction.

“I believe that I’m proven, and as I talk to members of the steering committee, many have said that they believe I have earned it,” she said, noting her six years as House Republican Conference chairwoman.

“It’s the combination of having proven myself from a political perspective, the leadership experience, the policy leadership, the communications skills I bring having done the tough interviews — it’s a combination of all of those things that make me uniquely prepared.”  

Burgess is banking more on his story with the committee: “We all have our strengths,” Burgess said. “I will have the highest seniority. As far as leadership on subcommittees, I can put my credentials up against anybody. No, I haven’t been chairman of the conference, but on the other hand, I put my heart and soul into committee work and the policy literally every day since I first started here.”

As is Latta: “As a member who has served on all six subcommittees and spearheaded legislation and initiatives from each of the five legislative subcommittees, I am intimately familiar with a broad span of policy issues,” he said.

Agriculture… Democratic House members are also jostling to take over as chair of the Agriculture Committee following the defeat of its current head, longtime Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.).

Rep. David Scott (Ga.), the second-highest ranking Democrat on the Agriculture panel, sent a letter to colleagues Thursday afternoon kicking off his campaign.

“If elected, I would approach my role as the first African American to chair the Agriculture Committee, and the first African American from Georgia to chair any committee, with a principled focus on addressing inequities in agriculture and advancing racial progress for all,” he wrote. 

Reps. Jim Costa (Calif.) and Marcia Fudge (Ohio), the next two most senior Democrats on the committee, are other possible contenders for the role.

Any of the picks to replace Peterson could provide some historic firsts.

Read more on Natural Resources and E&C here and read about the Agriculture contest here


It’s the final countdown… Even though a Biden win has not yet been cemented in the 2020 election results, a late Wednesday tweet from the former vice president reflected on the U.S.’s official exit from the Paris Climate Agreement — and his excitement for a 180 degree turnaround.

“Today, the Trump Administration officially left the Paris Climate Agreement. And in exactly 77 days, a Biden Administration will rejoin it,” he tweeted.

Renewing their commitment to renewables… Nevada voters amended the state’s constitution to require that electric utility providers get at least half of their electricity from renewable sources by 2030.

The amendment, passed as a ballot measure, requires all providers that sell electricity to retail customers meet a Renewable Portfolio Standard that gradually tightens between 2022 and 2030. Nevada’s governor has already signed a bill into state law that similarly requires the providers to get half of their electricity from renewables. But the passage of the amendment codifies that requirement into the constitution and makes it harder to repeal in the future. 

Powell’s eyes on climate change…“The public will expect and has every right to expect that in our oversight of the financial system, we will account for all material risks and try to protect the economy and the public from those risks,” Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said during a Thursday press conference. “Climate change is one of those risks.”


EPA chief of staff hit campaign trail for Trump, E&E reports

Shell Convent, LA, refinery will close amid to pandemic, Reuters reports

Norway’s Supreme Court Hears Rights Challenge to Arctic Oil Drilling, The New York Times reports

Tags Bruce Westerman Cathy McMorris Rodgers Collin Peterson David Scott Donald Trump Jim Costa Marcia Fudge Michael Burgess Paul Gosar

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