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The Week in Climate Hearings: The Green New Deal Turns Five

The fossil-fuel empire strikes back against Biden's LNG pause

On February 7th, 2019, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) introduced House Resolution 109, “Recognizing the duty of the Federal Government to create a Green New Deal.” The resolution marked the beginning of official support for the campaign begun by the Sunrise Movement for a complete rethinking of climate policy as part of a grand vision for a sustainable society. This vision was immediately and intuitively popular, until Fox News campaigned relentlessly to demonize the Green New Deal and Rep. Ocasio-Cortez.

Even so, the policy vision drove the presidential campaigns of Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) in 2020, thus raising the ambition of now-President Joe Biden with his considerably more moderate Build Back Better agenda, which was eventually whittled down and dirtied up by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.) into the Inflation Reduction Act. Meanwhile, leaders at the local, state, and even international level have continued the push for Green New Deal policies.

In celebration of the fifth anniversary of the introduction of the Green New Deal resolution, the Green New Deal Network is throwing a party Tuesday night starting at 6:30 pm at the Ugly Mug near Eastern Market, with Sen. Markey, the Network’s Kaniela Ing, and others.

The Los Angeles River is a river again. Credit: Jenna Schoenefeld

As California drowns in another deadly deluge that NPR’s Nathan Rott wants us to wait a few decades before connecting it to fossil-fueled global warming, the fossil-fueled members of Congress—Republicans, Sen. Manchin and Rep. Mary Petola (D-Alaska)—are pushing forward with their defense of climate polluters in this week’s hearings.

In particular, they’re pushing back with hearings in both chambers on President Biden’s recent decision to pause approvals of liquefied natural gas export projects. On the merits, this is a very modest action that will barely dent the United States’ LNG export boom, but it does challenge the total political supremacy of the fracking industry.

The big news in Washington is the Senate deal of a right-wing immigrant crackdown tied to over $100 billion in war materiel for Ukraine and Israel, which President Biden has been seeking since November. But Donald Trump is throwing shade at it, and the House Republicans will keep pushing for more eco-fascist cruelty before they let it through. Their drumbeat of anti-immigrant propaganda includes an Arizona field hearing on Thursday where climate migrants will be blamed for environmental damage.

Tuesday, February 6

At 10 am, the House Energy and Commerce climate subcommittee investigates the implications of the Administration’s pause on LNG export approvals. The GOP witnesses are Toby Z. Rice, CEO of EQT Corporation, the largest producer of natural gas in the nation; Brigham McCown, a Bush and Trump official who went on to run a pipeline company and is now at the Hudson Institute; and Southwest Louisiana Chamber Economic Development Alliance official Eric Cormier. The lone Democratic witness is NRDC’s Gillian Gianetti.

Cormier will unironically testify that we need to increase our production of fossil fuels because his region is being destroyed by climate disasters.

Rice’s testimony argues that the COP28 climate agreement brokered in Dubai was controlled by fossil-fuel interests and is toothless:

First and foremost, the signatory parties rejected calls to “phase out” or even “phase down” fossil fuels – as was fiercely advocated for by a select number privileged nations – landing instead on a call to “transition away from fossil fuels… in a just, orderly and equitable manner … so as to achieve net zero by 2050 in keeping with the science.” While some have attempted to draw an equivalency between the final language and that of a “phase out” or “phase down,” no equivalency exists, a fact that becomes readily apparent with a continued reading of the Global Stocktake. 

At 2 pm, the House Natural Resources Committee will hold a markup to push forward the Mining Regulatory Clarity Act (H.R. 2925), co-sponsored by Reps. Petola and Mark Amodei (R-Nev.), to overturn the Ninth Circuit’s Rosemont decision protecting sacred sites from mine waste, allowing mine operations to use, occupy, and conduct operations on public land regardless of whether a mineral deposit has been discovered.

Another hearing of interest: at 10 am, water and tech officials will testify on cybersecurity threats to our water supply; there is no mention of climate change in the prepared testimony.

Wednesday, February 7

At 9 am, the House Ways and Means trade subcommittee receives testimony from corporate lobbyists and former Trump officials on the World Trade Organization’s 13th ministerial meeting happening in Abu Dhabi at the end of the month.

Thursday, February 8

On Thursday at 9:30 am, it’s Manchin’s turn to attack the LNG export approval pause. The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hear testimony first from Department of Energy official David Turk and then from domestic LNG industry lobbyist Charlie Riedl and European LNG industry lobbyist James Watson.

At 10:30 am, Senate Indian Affairs receives testimony on Sen. Michael Bennet’s (D-Colo.) Tribal Access to Clean Water Act (S. 2385) and other Indian affairs bills.

At 1:30 pm Mountain Standard Time, the federal lands subcommittee of the House Natural Resources Committee will hold a field hearing in Sierra Vista, Arizona, 15 miles north of Mexico, to attack the Biden administration’s handling of border issues.

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