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The Week in Climate Hearings: Super Season

Super Tuesday, State of the Union, Omnibus Time

It’s Super Tuesday tomorrow, though with President Joe Biden and Donald Trump the presumptive nominees, the electoral excitement will be downballot. On Thursday night, President Biden delivers his State of the Union address before Congress. We at Hill Heat will be watching to find out how his speechwriters reconcile the United States becoming the world’s largest gas exporter with this:

The state of the union is overheated.

There are several big races in blizzard-battered California tomorrow, including the U.S. Senate primary pitting Democratic Reps. Katie Porter, the heavy-spending Adam Schiff, and Barbara Lee against each other. The 47th Congressional District race to replace Porter has featured an onslaught of dark money from AIPAC attacking the progressive climate-hawk state representative David Min. The GOP-billionaire-backed AIPAC also has incumbent Green New Dealers Cori Bush (D-Mo.) and Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) in their sights.

Appropriators have finally released the omnibus funding package for the first six appropriations bills for the year, including the spending for Interior, Energy, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as well as earmarks. As the team at the KKR-Axel Springer-Politico-owned E&E News summarizes: “The legislation slashes funding for EPA and several Interior Department bureaus. But appropriators spared popular Department of Energy programs.”

Most of EPA cuts were to the Superfund program, which can also use “polluter pays” taxes to finance its budget, so the damage will be limited. E&E News also notes that the rider blocking Interior from protecting the greater sage grouse, first inserted in 2015, is still there, and that lawmakers decreed that “wood gained from forest thinning can qualify as renewable biomass under the federal renewable fuel standard.”

Tuesday, March 5

Tomorrow night at 7 pm, the People’s Action coalition is holding the People’s House Party, a live webinar on electing and defending progressive leaders up and down the ballot in 2024. Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.), mentioned above, will be a special guest.

Wednesday, March 6

Jennifer Granholm and John Podesta at a utility industry summit in 2023.

At 9 am, Axios is hosting White House climate czar John Podesta, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, and climate-hawk Rep. Mike Levin (D-Calif.) for a breakfast discussion of the Inflation Reduction Act’s support for clean-energy investment. There will also be big money in the room, with LinkedIn multimillionaire Allen Blue and Dawn Lippert, the CEO of climate-tech venture capital firm Earthshot Ventures. Investors in Earthshot include Laurene Powell Jobs, John Doerr, Tom Steyer, Microsoft, and the Employees’ Retirement System of Hawaii.

At 10 am, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee discusses global food security with USAID food security official Dina Esposito and Special Envoy for Global Food Security Dr. Cary Fowler, the founder of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, and the Senate Commerce Committee reviews the National Transportation Safety Board Investigations Report with NTSB chair Jennifer Homendy, including the East Palestine train disaster and natural gas pipeline explosions.

There are several hearings of interest in the House as well.

At 10 am, the Science environment subcommittee holds a hearing on U.S. competitiveness in weather forecasting, with a push towards increased privatization of the weather enterprise bolstered by a panel of private weather company CEOs, including former Trump NOAA administrator Neil Jacobs.

Also at 10 am, the Agriculture committee hears from Rostin Behnam, chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

At 10:15 am, the House Natural Resources wildlife subcommittee holds a legislative hearing on the so-called America’s Wildlife Habitat Conservation Act (H.R. 7408), a Republican bill to water down the Endangered Species Act. An all-male panel of witnesses will testify, with Audubon’s Glenn Olson the one environmentalist witness.

At 2 PM, the House Natural Resources energy subcommittee holds a legislative hearing on multiple geothermal and onshore fossil-fuel lease bills. Reps. Ross Fulcher (R-Idaho), John Curtis (R-Utah), and Young Kim (R-Calif.) have bills to cut regulations for geothermal projects, while Reps. Harriet Hagemann (R-Wyo.) and Will Hunt (R-Texas) propose to cut fees for oil and gas leases. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) has proposed a bill authorizing the Department of Interior to charge standard fees for geothermal leases. It’s another all-male panel of witnesses; the environmental-labor leader (and inspiring musician) Joe Uehlein of the Labor Network for Sustainability is testifying on behalf of AOC’s legislation.

Thursday, March 7

On Thursday morning at 10:15 am, the House Natural Resources oversight subcommittee holds another hearing on natural capital accounting. In February, the subcommittee interrogated BLM advisor Henry Wykowski on the administration’s framework for environmental-economic accounting, which includes ecological health in the valuation of public lands. Witnesses have not yet been announced, so we do not know whether this is an all-male hearing.

As mentioned above, at 9 pm President Joe Biden offers his annual State of the Union Address to a joint session of Congress.

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