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The Week in Climate Hearings: The Right is Revolting

Plastic pollution, Conservation and Landscape Health, the Development Finance Corporation

This week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency conducts three days of public hearings on its proposed carbon pollution standards for fossil fuel-fired power plants. The virtual hearings begin at 11 am on Tuesday and go all day Wednesday and Thursday as well. Nearly all of the 253 scheduled speakers are environmentalists.

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) buttonholed by Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) during McCarthy’s flailing Speaker vote at the beginning of the year.

The hard-right revolt that shut down the House of Representatives last week has ended, for now. As a concession to the wingnuts,1 Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has ensured that Rep. Andrew “Bonnie and” Clyde (R-Ga.)’s mass-murder pistol-brace legislation will hit the floor alongside the anti-regulation, pro-gas-stove-pollution bills that were stalled last week. But the hardliners are pushing the GOP leadership for even deeper cuts in social spending than President Joe Biden already conceded in the debt ceiling deal. And they want further explicit power over the House GOP agenda. The revolting Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) explained that they’re not satisfied with their current hold on McCarthy:

“We want to work on an accountability regime and a power sharing agreement. We want to see House conservatives in a position to be able to enforce the agreements that we all make.”

On Monday, the House Armed Services Committee released the $886 billion chairman’s mark of H.R. 2670, the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2024. The markup extravaganza begins Tuesday, starting with Strategic Forces at 10 am, Cyber at 11, Seapower at noon, Military Personnel at 1 pm, Tactical Air and Land Forces at 2:30 pm, and concluding with Intelligence and Special Ops at 3:30 pm. Unlike their plans for the rest of the budget, the House GOP is looking to spend more on the military than even Biden requested. It’s almost like they’re not actually concerned with out-of-control spending.

Last Thursday.

In addition to the guns and ammo show, it’s a busy week of climate and energy hearings on the Hill.

Top hearings of interest

On Thursday at 10 AM, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) holds the next of his series of hearings on the rising scourge of plastic pollution, this time focusing on environmental justice communities. Witnesses include Louisiana environmental justice activists Angelle Bradford and Sharon Lavigne and New Jersey activist Chris Tandazo, and the Republican witnesses: American Chemistry Council- and ExxonMobil-backed ethylene cracker advocate Kevin Sunday and American Chemistry Council- and ExxonMobil-backed fracker advocate Donna Jackson.

On Thursday, the House Natural Resources Committee host governors Kristi Noem (R-S.D.) and Mark Gordon (R-Wyo.) for a hearing on rescinding the proposed Bureau of Land Management Conservation and Landscape Health Rule, which would allow the agency to consider environmental concerns when making decisions about use of federal lands under its jurisdiction. Rep. John Curtis (R-Utah) is the lead sponsor of H.R. 3397, the bill to block the BLM rule.

House Energy and Commerce energy and climate subcommittee chair Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) hosts oversight hearings with the members of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Tuesday morning and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission on Wednesday morning; on Friday he is holding a field hearing about last December’s attack on the Moore County, North Carolina power grid; although there was widespread speculation far-right extremists were targeting a local drag show, no arrests have been made.

The U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC), which was established in 2108 to counter China’s global Belt and Road Initiative by helping the U.S. finance energy and mining projects around the developing world, appears in a wide array of hearings this week. On Tuesday, Senate Foreign Relations will consider the nomination of Nisha Desai Biswal to be deputy CEO. On Wednesday morning, Senate appropriators look at the DFC’s $1 billion budget request with DFC CEO Scott Nathan. And in the afternoon, DFC Chief Development Officer Andrew Herscowitz testifies with State energy official Geoffrey Pyatt and former Visa executive Arun Venkataraman (now at Commerce) about countering China’s global Belt and Road Initiative before the House Foreign Relations Committee.

More hearings

Tuesday, June 13

On Tuesday morning in the House:

On Tuesday at 2 pm:

  • The energy subcommittee of House Science celebrates fusion energy with the Department of Energy’s fusion funding head Dr. Scott Hsu, the nation’s top fusion scientist Dr. Kathy McCarthy, and several corporate fusion advocates.

  • House Foreign Affairs looks at Biden’s $7.57 billion State Department budget for the Near East, most of which is foreign military funding, so for example, Jordan can buy some F-16s. State official Barbara Leaf and USAID official Jeanne Pryor will testify.

  • The Senate Foreign Relations will consider the nominees to be the ambassadors to Malaysia, Azerbaijan, Palau, and Djibouti, as well as Biswal, mentioned above.

Wednesday, June 14

At 10 am on Wednesday, there is a House Ag hearing on the Farm Bill’s agricultural research funding; Federal Highway Administration administrator Shailen Bhatt testifies before Senate Environment and Public Works; and House Oversight criticizes Biden administration regulatory reform.

In the afternoon, House Natural Resources subcommittees consider western water legislation and mining legislation.

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1 Speaking comparatively. Even though the House GOP is almost uniformly extremist, there are striations within.

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