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The Week in Climate Hearings: When Republicans Attack

Bombarding endangered species, forests, and renewable energy

Kevin Kueng surveys the interior of his mother's home in Porter, Wisc., Friday, Feb. 9, 2024, after a tornado destroyed the property on Thursday. His mother, Marilyn, 83, who was on the first floor of the home at the time, escaped injury in spite of the extensive damage. Credit: John Hart

After a freak fossil-fueled tornado struck freakishly warm Wisconsin on Friday, the U.S. Senate pressed forward this weekend to approve a $95.3 billion military-aid bill—$61 billion for Ukraine, $14 billion for Israel, and a rounding-error $5 billion for Taiwan—cutting into its planned two-week break. The senators met yesterday—on Super Bowl Sunday, horrors—to vote 67-27 to limit debate on the legislative package, setting up a final vote this week. Notably, the bill forbids any support for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees, the main aid group in Gaza, which also operates in Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon.

After that, the U.S. Senate is hoping to go on holiday, though the mega-storm sweeping up the coast may interrupt their flights. When the senators return on February 23rd, there will be only a week left to put together a spending bill to avoid a partial government shutdown on March 1st.

Palestinians in Rafah this morning amid the rubble of a building destroyed by Israeli bombardment. Credit: Hatem Ali

The House of Representatives, under the putative leadership of Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La., no relation) is in session this week. Don’t fret—Republicans have a full-throttle extractive-industry week planned, with attacks on environmental protections and clean technology. Burn baby burn!

Tuesday, February 13

At 4 pm, the House Rules Committee will set the floor debate rules for the Unlocking our Domestic LNG Potential Act of 2024, a provision to limit restrictions on liquefied natural gas imports Republicans have been trying to pass all session, given new legs by President Joe Biden’s limited pause on new LNG export construction.

Wednesday, February 14

The endangered Northern Long-Eared Bat, threatened anew by the Rep. Pete Stauber’s (R-Minn.) ESA Flexibility Act (H.R. 7157).

At 2 pm in the afternoon, the Rural Climate Partnership, a new grantmaking organization backed by the Wallace Global Fund, McKnight Foundation, and Stolte Family Foundation, is hosting a webinar on new communications research on rural renewable energy siting, which is a hotly contentious issue, with local communities trying to ban solar and wind farms across the nation.

In the House, Republicans are going after environmental policies on multiple fronts:

Also at 10 am, Agriculture holds a hearing with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Budget holds a hearing with Congressional Budget Office director Phill Swagel, and Transportation’s emergency management subcommittee interrogates FEMA head Deanne Criswell about the propriety of FEMA being engaged with emergency management other than climate disasters, such as the Covid and border crises, and supporting the resettlement of Afghan refugees.

Thursday, February 15

A gray-banded kingsnake in Hudspeth County, the site of the massive planned Saguaro Connector Pipeline project under FERC review. Credit: Gerold Merker

The monthly open meeting of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, now dominated by a pro-fracking majority, begins at 1 pm, and will be held at Howard University School of Law. Among the agenda items is the Saguaro Connector Pipeline, intended to carry nearly 3 billion cubic feet of natural gas from Texas’s Permian Basin across the Mexican border for export across the Pacific.

In the House, Republicans are going after environmental policies on multiple fronts:

Also, the Science Committee hosts top federal science officials for a hearing on securing the U.S. science and technology enterprise at 10 am, and Foreign Affairs discusses the Russian nuclear energy sector at 2 pm.

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