The Week in Climate Hearings: Continuing Irresolution
SEC climate disclosure; EXPLORE, PROVE IT, and other backronyms
After a glorious snow day—DC’s first inch of snow in 728 days—Congress is lurching forward on the job of keeping the federal government open. The U.S. Senate went into session Tuesday evening to invoke cloture on a continuing resolution to keep the government funded through early March, in order to give the needed appropriation bills time to be written and voted on. House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La., no relation) has little control over his caucus, so the bills will almost definitely be passed with a two-thirds threshold (under a suspension of the rules), requiring Democratic support.
Donald Trump won the Iowa caucuses, which is news only in the sense that it means that Election Day draws closer.
Meanwhile, there are several hearings of interest this week, including further criticism from House Republicans of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s proposed climate disclosure rules, and House Republican advocacy on behalf of nuclear energy industry. The bipartisan EXPLORE and PROVE IT bills are also getting marked up.
Wednesday, January 17
At 10 am on Wednesday morning, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee reviews the state of transportation with Virginia Port Authority head Stephen Edwards, Washington state Secretary of Transportation Roger Millar, and transportation logistics lobbyist Jeffrey Tucker and construction industry lobbyist Lauren Benford.
At 10:15 am, the House Natural Resources Committee marks up eight bills; the right-wing bill opposed by the Democrats is Rep. Harriet Hageman’s (R-Wyo.) Energy Poverty Prevention and Accountability Act (H.R. 5482), which would “require the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to conduct a study to identify laws, regulations, and state standards that impact at-risk communities and categorize barriers to at-risk communities from accessing ‘reliable and affordable energy,’” defined to be fossil fuels. Ranking member Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) has an amendment to include the public health costs of fossil-fuel pollution; Rep. Jared Huffman’s (D-Calif.) amendment removes the anti-renewable bias; and Rep. Mike Levin’s (D-Calif.) amendment would include the goal of increasing renewable energy deployment.
The other controversial bill on the agenda is Rep. Michelle Steel’s (R-Calif.) bill (H.R. 6474) to “expedite geothermal exploration and development in previously studied or developed areas.”
Bipartisan bills expected to move by unanimous consent include Rep. Huffman’s Coastal Habitat Conservation Act (H.R. 2950), Rep. Joe Neguse’s (D-Colo.) Water Data Improvement Act (H.R. 5770), and Rep. Bruce Westerman’s (R-Ark.) Expanding Public Lands Outdoor Recreation Experiences Act (H.R. 6492).
At 2 pm, a House Financial Services subcommittee chaired by Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-Mo.) looks at international financing of nuclear energy, framing U.S. subsidies for nuclear power as a competition with China and Russia.
Thursday, January 18
Thursday morning begins with the House Financial Services’s oversight committee bringing in industry lobbyists to complain about the SEC’s proposed climate disclosure rule. Charles Crain of the National Association of Manufacturers; Lawrence Cunningham of the banking law firm Mayer Brown; and Michigan fruit farmer Bill Schultz will testify. Schultz’s testimony unironically complains about the climate pollution rules while bemoaning the challenges of “weather events” such as a “devastating spring frost” or when “mother nature delivers a bad weather year.” The Democratic witness is George Georgiev, an Emory law professor who has previously responded to critics of the SEC rule.
At 10 am, the House Natural Resources water, wildlife and fisheries subcommittee receives testimony on four pieces of coastal fishing and protection legislation—a bill to set limited protections for Alabama’s coastal cypress; one to continue restoration of Long Island Sound; another to continue algal bloom research; and one to promote youth coastal fishing.
At 10:30 am, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee has a legislative markup including the Providing Reliable, Objective, Verifiable Emissions Intensity and Transparency (PROVE IT) Act (S. 1863) and the Good Samaritan Remediation of Abandoned Hardrock Mines Act (S. 2781). The PROVE IT Act is a bipartisan bill—Sens. Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.)—that would have the Department of Energy compare the greenhouse pollution of goods such as metals, cement, plastics, oil, natural gas, batteries, paper, solar cells, uranium, and wind turbines manufactured in the United States to the pollution generated by the same goods manufactured in other countries.
At 2 PM, the House oversight’s energy policy subcommittee chaired by Rep. Pat Fallon (R-Texas) holds a hearing on empowering American nuclear energy with federal officials Dr. Kathryn Huff of the Office of Nuclear Energy, Daniel Dorman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and Dr. David Ortiz, director of the Office of Electric Reliability at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.