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The Week in Climate Hearings: Going to Extremes

Climate Attribution, Carbon Capture, Insurance Markets

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Fossil-fueled weather extremes have decimated pumpkin patches in much of the nation. Credit: Brittany Peterson

Last Thursday, House Republicans passed the Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (H.R. 4394) on a party-line vote. They had planned to bring it to the floor the first week of October, but they had to depose Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and argue for weeks before finally choosing the oil-funded theocrat Mike Johnson (R-La.) as their new speaker first.

The energy bill cuts non-military funding by 22 percent from last year, including a $5 billion recission in Inflation Reduction Act funds, a 38 percent cut to the Department of Energy’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, and a 53 percent cut to the Western drought-management program known as WaterSMART. It is stocked with extremist riders, such as blocking energy efficiency standards and prohibiting the Army Corps of Engineers from renaming items that commemorate the Confederacy.

GOP amendments added on the floor worsened the bill, blocking COVID-19 mask mandates and energy standards for air conditioners, ice makers, water heaters, furnaces, or manufactured housing. They prohibit funding for the American Climate Corps, block consideration of the social cost of greenhouse gases, block DOE’s Industrial Decarbonization Roadmap and Office of Scientific Workforce Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and more.

A 100-acre wildfire burns in Pulaski County, Virginia, October 29.

Wednesday, November 1

At 10 am, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee holds a hearing on the science of how climate change is fueling severe weather events. The witnesses are Lawrence Berkeley climate modeler Michael Wehner, climate resilience officer and marine scientist Jennifer Jurado, and former Trump administration technologist Paul Dabbar, who is now at the oil-backed Columbia University Center on Global Energy Policy. As climate scientist Kevin Trenberth pointed out in 2011, the only reasonable starting assumption is that all weather is inflenced by climate pollution.

At 2:30 pm, the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee holds a hearing on small businesses and America’s outdoor recreation economy, which is being reshaped by global warming. Witnesses include New Hampshire backcountry skier Andrew Drummond and outdoor recreation lobbyist Jessica Wahl Turner.

On Wednesday evening, the House is expected to vote on more appropriations bills —Legislative Branch Appropriations Act (H.R. 4364), Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (H.R. 4820), and Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (H.R. 4821). The latter two (Transportation-HUD and Interior-EPA), both of which have extreme anti-climate provisions, require a Rules committee meeting earlier in the day, which has not yet been announced.

Thursday, November 2

At 10 am, the the House Financial Services capital markets subcommittee examines the Securities Exchange Commission’s agenda; we can expect Republican witnesses who will decry SEC climate risk and responsible investing guidelines.

Also at 10 am, Sen. Joe Manchin’s (D-W.Va.) energy committee looks at deploying carbon capture utilization and sequestration and direct air capture technologies—likely calling for the loosening of environmental permit requirements to support these fossil-industry-backed technologies.

At 10:15 am, the House Natural Resources Committee holds its Member Day, where members of Congress can request earmarks or other special consideration of issues of concern. Halloween is the last day for members to request to testify.

At 2 pm, the House Financial Services insurance subcommittee receives testimony on factors influencing property and casualty insurance markets, a hearing originally scheduled for last week. Witnesses include reinsurance industry lobbyist Frank Nutter and Environmental Defense Fund economist Dr. Carolyn Kousky. As climate disasters put increasing pressure on insurance markets, Republicans on the committee are offering the answer of eliminating the Federal Insurance Office.

Friday, November 3

At 11 AM, the House Foreign Affairs Committee holds its Member Day hearing.

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