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The Week in Climate Hearings: Peace Through Strength

Out: politics in smoke-filled rooms. In: politics in smoke-filled cities

As children are swept away by fossil-fueled floods and smoke from fossil-fueled Canadian wildfires literally chokes the nation’s capital, Republican members of Congress will retreat to air-conditioned committee rooms to slash the EPA and Amtrak budgets and to stop financial institutions from admitting climate change is dangerous.

Why conduct politics in smoke-filled rooms when you can do it in smoke-filled cities?

Tuesday, July 18

Tuesday’s climate hearings are all in the House of Representatives.

At 10 AM, the Financial Services Committee Republicans continue their campaign of climate denial begun last week. The financial institutions subcommittee chaired by Andy Barr (R-Ky.), with ranking member Bill Foster (D-Ill.), one of the few scientists in Congress, will hold a hearing on federal banking climate-risk management actions, grilling the Federal Reserve’s Michael Gibson, the Comptroller of the Currency’s Greg Coleman, FDIC’s Doreen Eberley, and the National Credit Union Administration’s Rendell Jones. Flagstaff’s county treasurer Sarah Benatar will testify on the dangers of legislation that forbids banks from taking into account climate risk.

House appropriators are spending the day marking up the Fiscal Year 2024 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Bill. The $90 billion mark is 8.7% below the President’s budget request. Climate justice, eviction legal assistance, and Amtrak receive huge cuts.

The march toward war with China continues, with the Foreign Affairs’ Indo-Pacific subcommittee reviewing the foreign affairs budget for the region with State Department official Daniel Kritenbrink and USAID official Michael Ronning. The title of the hearing? “Achieving Peace through Strength in the Indo-Pacific.”

Also on Tuesday morning, Homeland Security’s maritime security subcommittee is taking testimony on Strategic Competition in the Arctic. As international relations expert Esther D. Brimmer will testify, “The Arctic sits at the confluence of three phenomena: shifting geopolitics, changing climate, and the far-ranging implications of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.” We’ll be watching to see whether anyone really connects the dots on how it’s not a good thing that the fossil-fueled melting of Arctic is creating the opportunity to drill for more fossil fuels.

Energy and Commerce’s energy and climate subcommittee is hosting a hearing for nuclear energy boosters in support of a raft of pro-nuclear legislation, including bills to limit environmental reviews of reactor construction. In addition to the first panel of administration nuclear officials, the second panel of witnesses includes the notorious anti-environmental troll Ted Nordhaus amid other nuclear-industry lobbyists.

At 2 PM, Natural Resources’ wildlife subcommittee takes a sour look at fifty years of the Endangered Species Act. Administration witnesses are NOAA’s Janet Coit and U.S. Fish and Wildlife director Martha Williams. Representing the extinction interests are East Central Energy’s Justin Jahnz (who wants monarch butterfly protection efforts to be voluntary), Oregon farmer Sean Vibbert (who blames bullfrogs instead of farmers for killing off the spotted frog), and property-rights-ideologue Jonathan Wood of the Property and Environment Research Center. Former Obama-administration Fish and Wildlife director Dan Ashe will testify in favor of less species extinction.

Also at 2, the E&C oversight subcommittee examines “emerging threats to electric energy infrastructure.” While heat waves, winter storms, floods, and wildfires are mentioned in passing in the witness testimony, what the committee Republicans really want to discuss is cyber, drone, and EMP attacks!

Wednesday, July 19

The House Natural Resources committee gets an early start with a 9:15 AM hearing to mark up three pieces of legislation. The one controversial bill is the “Energy Opportunities for All Act” (H.R. 4374) from Rep. Eli Crane (R-Ariz.), to overturn Biden administration protections of lands surrounding the Chaco Canyon National Historical Park from mining.

At 10 AM, House appropriators conduct their markup of the Fiscal Year 2024 Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Bill. The House mark of $25.4 billion is a full 35% below the President’s request, slashing the Environmental Protection Agency budget by 39% and rescinding billions in climate funding from the Inflation Reduction Act, while requiring oil and gas lease sales, expanding mining access, and delisting endangered species.

In the afternoon, the Senate committees get to work:

Thursday, July 20

At 9 AM, the House Natural Resources federal lands subcommittee holds a hearing on legislation to subsidize veterans using national parks and public lands, as well as a bill to transfer federal land in Utah to facilitate the construction of a highway.

At 9:30 AM, Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), chair of the Senate Commerce subcommittee on oceans reviews the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration budget with NOAA director Richard Spinrad and NOAA Corps Rear Admiral Nancy Hann.

Also at 9:30 AM, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee receives testimony on the draft Water Resources Development Act of 2024, which will determine the next two years of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers water projects. Witnesses will represent the Port of Los Angeles, the North Dakota-Minnesota Red River’s Metro Flood Diversion Authority, the Delaware Bayshore, and Mississippi River barge companies.

Friday, July 21

At 10 AM Mountain Standard Time, wingnut Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), the chair of the oversight subcommittee of House Natural Resources, hosts a field hearing in Goodyear, Ariz. to promote mineral mining in the American Southwest.

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