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Climate Hearings This Week: The Dirty Deal Returns
Budget chairs agree on the battleground
At 11 AM on Wednesday, White House climate advisor John Podesta is slated to speak at the Bipartisan Policy Center about President Joe Biden’s priorities on energy permitting reform. The Bipartisan Policy Center is an industry-funded think tank; board member and former BPC president Jason Grumet is a fierce advocate of fracked gas. Podesta confirmed last week that Biden continues to back Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.)’s dirty deal; Manchin is holding a hearing yet again promoting his drilling and mining permit plan on Thursday.
While we are not listing them below, readers should note that the House Armed Services is marking up the gargantuan military budget this month. This approximately $1 trillion effort is the dominant expression of the United States discretionary agenda. In many ways, it defines how our nation is responding to the fossil-fueled climate crisis our nation has led the way in causing.
It is an article of faith of Hill Heat that all politics are climate politics; also, that money is, at heart, an expression of political power. Therefore it is rather gratifying to the editors that the Budget Committees of our bicamerical legislature have become the hottest partisan battleground for climate politics. Wednesday features the Democratic-run Senate Budget Committee; on Thursday, the Republican-led House Budget Committee takes its shots.
Wednesday, May 10
At 10:30 AM, Senate Budget chair Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) holds the latest in his ongoing series of climate hearings: Lessons Learned: Leadership Perspectives and Experience on the National Costs of Climate Change. Whitehouse has invited an all-white-male panel of rock-ribbed conservatives: former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who was ousted by his fellow conservatives for attempting to pass climate policy; former Republican Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, who was a climate denier when he held power during the George W. Bush administration, but is now the chair of the Nature Conservancy; and former Republican governor of Iowa Terry Branstad, who more recently served as Donald Trump’s ambassador To China, and is a global warming denier except for when he’s pimping for a carbon dioxide pipeline. It appears that Whitehouse believes that his Republican colleagues are reachable by the right spokesmodel, that there is a neoliberal consensus to be reached between the corporate-right and the corporate-left.
At 10 AM, House Oversight chair James Comer hosts the latest in his ongoing series of hearings decrying “woke capitalism”: An Examination of Environmental, Social, and Governance Practices with Attorneys General. Comer has invited the Republican state attorneys general of Utah and Alabama, Sean Reyes and Steve Marshall, who are fighting their Chambers of Commerce in order to attack responsible investing practices. The Democratic witness is Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerich, who has written it is “baffling why some officials around the country” want to ban “investment managers and banks that consider the billion-dollar risks related to climate change, environmental degradation, water shortages and poor company governance.”
Also at 10 AM, more FY2024 budget hearings:
The House Energy and Commerce Committee’s environment subcommittee chair Bill Johnson (R-Ohio) will grill Environmental Protection Agency administrator Michael Regan on his agency’s proposed FY2024 budget. From his press release, it looks like Johnson will actually focus on attacking the investments already made in the agency by the Inflation Reduction Act.
Senate Energy and Natural Resources’s National Parks subcommittee chair Angus King (I-Maine) will review the National Park Service’s $3.8 billion budget with director Chuck Sams and NPS comptroller Jessice Bowron.
Dr. Laurie E. Locascio, director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, presents NIST’s $1.6 billion request to the House Science Committee, which has a small climate technology and monitoring research program.
Also at 10 AM, the Senate receives testimony from two nominees already in the administration:
Jeff Baran for another term on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Baran was a long-time House Energy and Commerce staffer before joining the NRC in 2014.
Xochitl Torres Small, now Department of Agriculture Under Secretary for Rural Development, to be Deputy Secretary of Agriculture. Torres Small represented New Mexico’s 2nd District from 2019 to 2021; she was defeated by her oil-backed Republican opponent Yvette Herrell in the 2020 election.
In the afternoon, House Science conducts oversight on the Department of Energy’s implementation of the additional $45 billion in appropriations DOE received for program funding, infrastructure investments, and loan guarantees, as well as expanded loan authority from Biden’s major infrastructure, energy, and manufacturing legislation. Dr. Geraldine Richmond, DOE Under Secretary for Science and Innovation, and Dr. Kathleen Hogan, acting Under Secretary for Infrastructure, are testifying. While this is exactly the kind of work Congress should be doing, the hearing may devolve into partisan posturing about climate and China.
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Thursday, May 11
At 10 AM, House Budget Chair Jodey Arrington (R-Texas) and Members of the House Budget Committee will hold an eco-fascist hearing to “expose the woke, wasteful, and bloated bureaucracy,” connecting climate denial, racism, and hatred of the poor and needy, with allusions to Communism and Critical Race Theory where needed:
Myron Ebell, Director for the Center for Energy and Environment at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the dean of polluter-backed climate denial;
Paige Agostin, policy director at the disturbingly Trumpist think tank Center for Renewing America, formerly the legislative director for Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) and a Trump White House domestic policy director;
Rachel Greszler, a Heritage Foundation expert in defunding Social Security and Medicare;
and the Democratic witness Indivar Dutta-Gupta, President and Executive Director at the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP), a progressive anti-poverty think tank.
As mentioned above, Senate Energy and Natural Resources chair Joe Manchin is holding a hearing promoting his drilling and mining permit plan at 10 AM.
Also on Thursday, the House science committee plans to hold what looks to be a mostly non-partisan hearing on federal funding programs for firefighters, and House agriculture trade subcommittee chair Brad Finstad (R-Minn.) receives testimony from lobbyists on agricultural trade.
Finally, more FY2024 budget hearings:
At 9 AM: Senate military appropriators review the $842 billion Department of Defense budget with Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Joint Chiefs Chair Mark Milley;
At 10 AM: House Science’s environment subcommittee hosts National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration administrator Rick Spinrad to review NOAA’s $6.8 billion budget request;
At 2 PM: House Energy and Commerce’s Energy, Climate, and Grid Security subcommittee hosts Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm to review her department’s $52 billion budget request, of which $32.5 is military.