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The Week in Climate Hearings: Goose-stepping Toward a Shutdown

Clean Power Plan 2.0, industrial decarbonization, wildlife migration

Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-La.) needs Democrats to back his plan to keep the government open. Credit: J. Scott Applewhite

As Donald Trump calls for the extermination of the “vermin” of the American left and Benjamin Netanyahu targets Gaza’s hospitals, we’re now counting down the days to the latest federal government-funding shutdown on November 17th before the Thanksgiving recess.

The House Rules Committee is meeting this afternoon at 4 pm to consider House Speaker Mike Johnson’s (R-La., no relation) unnecessarily complicated “laddered” two-step continuing resolution, which would fund the part of the government until January 19th, and the rest of the government through February 2nd.1 This continuing resolution is “clean” —without the budget cuts and right-wing riders much of the Republican caucus wants. And this proposal lacks emergency funding for military support for Ukraine or Israel, or further disaster relief, which the Biden administration desperately wants.

So it does not have enough Republican support to pass the House. Support from the Democrats for Johnson’s plan is far from certain—and if Democrats do help Johnson pass a clean CR, that could lead to the same hard-right revolt that deposed former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).2

The Republican House has passed 7 of 12 appropriations bills for fiscal year 2024, all with draconian cuts and extremist riders attacking climate action and civil rights. This week, House Republican leadership will attempt to pass their Labor-Health-Education, Commerce-Justice-Science, Transportation-HUD funding bills amid vicious internal fighting.

Meanwhile, the Democratic Senate is moving forward to use H.R. 815 as its shell for a continuing resolution. Although Democrats strongly prefer a CR that has a pre-Christmas expiration, they have signaled openness to Johnson’s approach.

Meanwhile, committee work continues, with a busy Tuesday and Wednesday.

Tuesday, November 14

At 10 am, the Senate Agriculture Committee looks at new agricultural technology, including so-called artificial intelligence; the all-male panel of witnesses include John Deere’s top technologist, Dr. Jahmy Hindman; former Apple technologist and agricultural machine-learning scientist Dr. Mason Earles; and agricultural technology lawyer Todd Janzen.

Also at 10 am, the House Transportation’s Coast Guard subcommittee looks at the Coast Guard’s efforts in drug enforcement, illegal migration, and illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing.

At 10:15 am, the House Natural Resources energy subcommittee examines the Biden Administration’s abandoned coal mine lands and active coal mining programs, which have been significantly modified by the bipartisan infrastructure act. Witnesses include Interior mining deputy director Glenda Owens, coal-mining officials from Wyoming, Alabama, and Ohio, and Sierra Club senior attorney Peter Morgan.

At 10:30 am, the House Energy and Commerce environment subcommittee holds a hearing on EPA’s proposed greenhouse pollution standards for the power sector. The Biden administration is taking yet another crack at setting greenhouse pollution standards for electric utilities, after Trump and the Supreme Court killed Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan. The proposed standards include shifting gas-fired plants over to carbon-capture and hydrogen in the 2030s. Witnesses are Republican officials from North Dakota, Wyoming, and Tennessee as well as Maryland secretary of the environment Serena McIlwain.

House Natural Resources subcommittees are holding two hearings to receive testimony on proposed legislation. At 10:30 am, the water subcommittee looks at four non-controversial waterways bills. At 2 pm, the federal lands subcommittee looks at seven bills, including Rep. Young Kim’s (R-Calif.) wildfire technology bill and Rep. Bruce Westerman’s (R-Ark.) biochar research bill.

At 2:30 pm, Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) chairs an environmental subcommittee hearing on wildlife migration corridors with California fish and wildlife director Chuck Bonham, Center for Public Lands director Madeleine West, and Wyoming game warden Richard King.

Wednesday, November 15

The House Financial Services Committee starts bright and early with a 9:30 am oversight hearing of federal banking regulators, with the Federal Reserve vice chair for supervision Michael Barr, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation chair Vice Chairman for Supervision Martin Gruenberg, National Credit Union Administration chair Todd Harper, and acting Comptroller of the Currency Michael Hsu. Among many proposed rules under the committee’s eye are the principles for climate-related financial risk management for large financial institutions.

At 10 am, Senate Environment chair Tom Carper (D-Del.) holds a hearing on industrial decarbonization with an all-female panel of Breakthrough Energy’s Dr. Abigail Regitsky, Dr. Leah Ellis of the low-carbon cement startup Sublime Systems, and corporate hydrogen and carbon-capture lobbyist Shannon Angielski.

At 2:30 pm, Senate Indian Affairs marks up the Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project Amendments Act, for the major project to supply water to Navajo Nation and Gallup, New Mexico by diverting it from the San Juan River.

Thursday, November 16

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s monthly open meeting begins at 10 am.

1 The House Appropriations Committee has 12 subcommittees which split up the federal budget. The January 19th deadline is for the funding covered by four subcommittees: Agriculture, Energy and Water, Military Construction-Veterans Affairs, and Transportation-Housing and Urban Development (THUD). The other 8 subcommittees, whose jurisdiction would be funded through February 2nd, are Financial Services, Legislative Branch, Commerce Justice & Science, Defense, Homeland Security, Interior-Environment, State & Foreign Operations, and Labor-Health-Education.

2 Representative-elect Gabe Amo (D-R.I.) will be sworn in tonight, giving Democrats 213 members to the Republicans’ 221. Republicans can only lose three members on party-line votes now.

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