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The Week in Climate Hearings: Budgeting for the Storms

Grid expansion and flooding-down economics

This morning, as Canadian wildfire smoke spread over the Great Plains, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved rules to modernize electricity transmission across states. The rules set new standards for how costs of new transmission projects will be funded, which should be a boon to solar and wind farms. The new grid expansion rule was celebrated by advocates like the Environmental Defense Fund and Evergreen Action who have been pushing for clean electrification, but, as expected, it does not tackle interconnection between the country’s regional grids.

This week features excellent lunchtime webinars on tackling climate risk, with a special emphasis on the threat to our home insurance system posed by rising climate disasters.

On Tuesday at noon, the First Street Foundation’s science officer Ed Kearns presents the organization’s flood risk model, which, unlike the government’s flood maps, incorporates climate-pollution modeling to more accurately project risk into the future.

And then on Thursday at noon, the Climate and Community Project hosts a panel with policy visions for the home insurance crisis. Policymakers, beholden to industry, are currently passing legislation to protect private insurers instead of homeowners from rising climate disasters. The panelists, moderated by Moira Birss and including Climate Politics Almanac author Jordan Haedtler, will present alternative visions to make “housing safer and more affordable for all.”

And now, the week in climate hearings on Capitol Hill.

Devastating fossil-fueled flash floods struck Afghanistan this weekend, killing over 300. Credit: Atif Aryan

Monday, May 13

On Monday afternoon, an all-white-male group of House Natural Resources Republicans held a field hearing in Wisconsin on recreation on federal lands. The all-white-male panel of witnesses advocated for keeping logging roads open and protecting the use of lead ammunition.

Flash floods and cold lava flow hit Indonesia’s Sumatra island

Devastating fossil-fueled flash floods struck Sumatra this weekend, killing at least 44. Credit: Antara Foto

Wednesday, May 15

At 10 am, Senate Budget chair Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) holds his latest climate risk hearing on national security, with the evocative title “Budgeting for the Storm.” The witnesses are former Navy vice admiral and climate official Dennis McGinn, former Navy oceanographer and rear admiral Tim Gallaudet, Center for Climate and Security’s Erin Sikorsky, and Hampton Roads official Rick Dwyer. The Republican witness is the American Enterprise Institute’s Mackenzie Eaglen.

As the United States finances multi-billion-dollar wars in Ukraine and Israel, both with profound implications for global energy politics and international diplomacy, and directs its trillion-dollar war machine towards confrontation with China, this hearing could not be more timely.

Wednesday also features numerous fiscal-year 2025 budget hearings, in which members will discuss agency priorities with administration officials:

A drone view shows gas cylinders deposited in a flooded area in Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul state, Brazil May 12, 2024. Credit: Adriano Machado

Weeks of torrential rains have overwhelmed southern Brazil with floods that have killed at least 143. Credit: Adriano Machado

Thursday, May 16

At 10 am, the Senate Commerce committee marks up dozens of bills, including legislation on sea turtle protection, marine debris, red snapper import controls, and landslide preparedness.

At 10:30 am, the Senate Foreign Relations committee will meet with Deputy Secretary of State Richard Verma on modernization of the State Department “to address 21st century challenges.”

Budget hearings continue with, at 10 am:

And at 2:30 pm, the House Natural Resources water, wildlife, and fisheries subcommittee chaired by Rep. Cliff Bentz (R-Ore.) holds an overstuffed budget hearing on the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the Power Marketing Administrations. The Republicans plan to attack the seven heads of the respective agencies for protecting endangered species, supporting offshore wind projects, and the like.

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