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The Week in Climate Hearings: A Cloudy Eclipse

LNG exports, SEC climate rules, and the FY2025 budget

Congress is returning to work in Washington D.C. (87 percent partial eclipse) after a long break. The business of President Joe Biden’s fiscal year 2025 budget request is occupying appropriators now, though there’s little expectation any such legislation will be accomplished before November’s elections.

A matrix road sign displays a message for drivers about the solar eclipse in Lackawanna, New York. Photograph: Adam Gray

In case you’re wondering: yes, Fox News is ensuring its viewers are aware the solar eclipse is illegally crossing the border at Piedras Negras and Eagle Pass (100% totality).

House Republicans desperately want to overturn Biden’s moratorium on LNG export approvals, and are proposing to attach a rider to do so to every piece of legislation being considered now, from military support for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan to funding to rebuild Baltimore’s Francis Scott Key Bridge. House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La., no relation) notably told Fox News to find any excuse to get approval for the CP2 LNG export mega-terminal in his home state:

“We want to unleash American energy. We want to have natural gas exports that will help unfund Vladimir Putin’s war effort there.”

The United States is already the world’s largest LNG exporter, and the CP2 export terminal won’t be completed before 2026 at the earliest, so fighting Putin is probably not the Speaker’s actual priority here.

House Energy Committee Republicans are holding a field hearing this afternoon in Port Arthur, Texas (91 percent partial eclipse) on the LNG export approval moratorium with Port Arthur residents. Port Arthur is already home to dozens of oil refineries, LNG terminals, chemical manufacturing plants, and other polluting facilities. Although several residents will testify in support of adding to the burden, local environmental justice activist John Beard, Jr. will argue Port Arthur’s days as a sacrifice zone need to end.

Here are the climate-related hearings in the Capitol the rest of the week; below that, a quick review of some of the budget hearings of interest.

Tuesday, April 9

At 2:30 pm, the Senate Rules and Administration Committee conducts an oversight hearing of the Smithsonian Institution with head Lonnie G. Bunch III.

Wednesday, April 10

At 10 am, House Financial Services conducts yet another all-white-male hearing attacking the Securities and Exchange Commission’s climate disclosure rules. Although the SEC has already stayed the largely optional rule, the Republican witnesses—corporate lawyer and former Trump SEC Commissioner Elad Roisman, corporate lawyer and former Trump SEC General Counsel Robert Stebbins, and fracker Chris Wright—will argue it would destroy American businesses to track their climate pollution. Former SEC economist Josh White, now a professor of finance at Vanderbilt, is more neutral.

Also at 10 am, Senate Environment and Public Works examines the state of air quality monitoring technology with Congressional environmental policy analyst Omar Hammad, Denver air program supervisor Bill Obermann, and former Trump EPA official Anne Austin. This technology is what will determine enforcement of the Biden administration’s tighter soot pollution standards.

And at 2:30 pm, Senate Energy water and power subcommittee chair Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) oversees a hearing assessing cyber threats to and vulnerabilities of critical water infrastructure in our energy sector.

Thursday, April 11

At 1 pm, House Oversight holds a hearing on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration with commissioner Rob Califf, MD. One hopes they will discuss the link between microplastics and heart disease with Cardiff, a cardiologist, or get an update on FDA regulation of PFAS.

At 2 pm, a House Natural Resources subcommittee looks at energy production for U.S. island territories—Republicans will argue they need imported fossil fuels instead of a robust renewable-energy grid.

Solar in Puerto Rico

Rooftop solar panels in Puerto Rico. Credit: Dr. Zheng O'Neill

Budget Hearings

As Hill Heat discussed last year, President Biden’s executive orders make climate action a mission of every part of the federal government, so in theory every budget hearing is a climate hearing. New climate initiatives are not a primary focus of the Biden budget this election year, though there are tens of billions of dollars of proposed funding to expand and continue programs established in Biden’s landmark infrastructure bills such as the National Climate Resilience Framework and the American Climate Corps.


Most of the discretionary budget is for the Department of Defense, so even a tiny portion of defense spending on climate or energy can match the budgets of entire agencies elsewhere in the government. There will be a Senate Armed Services hearing on the entire $849.8 billion defense budget on Tuesday at 9:30 am. On Wednesday, House appropriators will review the $257.6 billion United States Navy and Marine Corps budget in the morning and the $186 billion United States Army budget in the afternoon.


The U.S. Agency for International Development, which is funded jointly with the U.S. Department of State at a requested level of $58.8 billion, plays a key role in U.S. energy and climate policy, directing investments and global trade. USAID administrator Samantha Power has a busy week of testimony, discussing the budget request before Senate appropriators Tuesday afternoon and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Wednesday morning, and then testifying before the House Foreign Affairs Committee Wednesday afternoon.


Similarly, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas is testifying multiple times on the $107.9 billion ($62 billion discretionary) DHS budget, which includes the Federal Emergency Management Agency and $22.7 billion for its Disaster Relief Fund. Most of the Republican questioning will be Trumpist showboating about the border, but no word yet as to whether they’ll try to impeach Mayorkas for allowing the eclipse to cross over. Mayorkas is testifying before House appropriators Wednesday morning and Senate appropriators Wednesday afternoon. On Thursday at 2 pm, members of Congress will testify on earmarks they want in the Homeland Security budget.

CBO, U.S. Forest Service, and Member Days

Also on Wednesday: at 9 am, House appropriators review the Government Accountability Office, the Government Publishing Office, and the Congressional Budget Office budgets, and at 2:30 pm, Senate appropriators interview U.S. Forest Service chief Randy Moore about the agency’s $8.9 billion budget.

Finally, the member day for energy and water development earmarks begins at 10:30 am on Wednesday, and the member day for agriculture and rural development earmarks starts at 10 am on Thursday.

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