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Pelosi Names Castor Chair of Select Committee on Climate Crisis

Federal Legislation, Green Jobs, Opinions, Policy
December 31, 2018

by Chris Mills Rodrigo (The Hill)  House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) officially named Rep. Kathy Castor (D-Fla.) as chairwoman of the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis on Friday.

Progressives have pushed back on House leadership’s plans for the panel.

The panel will not be tasked specifically with formulating a Green New Deal, which includes a transition to 100 percent renewable electricity, and will not have subpoena power.

And, despite demands from Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and others, lawmakers who received donations from fossil fuel companies won’t be banned from serving on it.

Castor told The Hill earlier this month that progressives should not worry about her.

“There’s some fabulous proposals in the Green New Deal, and I’m excited about all that. You may see some similar language. Clearly, the focuses are going to be the same,” she said. “This will be a committee clearly in the spirit of the Green New Deal.”

She said that while she will not take donations from fossil fuel companies, making that a rule was unnecessary.

“My position is that the committee should have legislative authority and should have subpoena power,” she added. “But I think that has been negotiated with the standing committee chairs, and we’re going to work together.” READ MORE

Ocasio-Cortez, progressives express disappointment with climate panel (The Hill)

Pass a Green New Deal (Washington Post)

House Dems formalize climate committee plans without Green New Deal language (The Hill)

Admitting defeat (Politico’s Morning Energy)

Nancy Pelosi called climate change the “existential threat of our time” (Politico’s Morning Energy)

 The intrigue:  (Axios)

House energy panel to dedicate first hearing to climate change (The Hill)

U.S. Rep. Castor’s statement on her appointment as Chair of the new Select Committee on the Climate Crisis (Office of U.S. Representative Kathy Castor)

House Climate Panel Offers Opportunity to Promote SfL Principles (Solutions from the Land)

CASTOR’S CALL: (Politico’s Morning Energy)

Excerpt from Politico’s Morning Energy:  Sunrise Movement Co-founder Varshini Prakash said in a statement that the announced structure of the select panel is “deeply disappointing.”

“But in losing this fight on the Select Committee, we have won the biggest breakthrough on climate change in my lifetime,” she said. “We’ve shown that when we relentlessly demand what’s needed, not just what pundits say is politically possible, we can change the terms of the debate altogether.”

FILLING OUT THE SELECT PANEL: One Republican interested in the ranking member slot on the climate panel is Wisconsin’s Sensenbrenner, who led an earlier iteration of it between 2007 and 2011.

“Mr. Sensenbrenner is interested in the ranking member position and has reached out to Republican leadership regarding the matter,” said spokesman Christopher Krepich.

Background: Sensenbrenner applauded Trump’s move to withdraw from the Paris climate accord and has dismissed carbon dioxide’s classification as a pollutant as “propaganda.”

Another name ME keeps hearing as a possible ranking member is Louisiana Rep. Garret Graves. An aide tells ME “a number of folks — on and off the Hill — have encouraged” him to consider seeking the role.

Background: Graves previously ran the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority and once worked on climate issues as a Senate aide. His perspective would be unique as a representative to one of the largest oil and gas producing states nationally but also one of the most impacted by rising seas.  READ MORE

 

Excerpt from Politico’s Morning Energy: Nancy Pelosi called climate change the “existential threat of our time” during her opening address as the new speaker of the House, and said Congress must “put an end to the inaction and denial of science that threaten the planet and the future.” Now comes the hard work of uniting the disparate factions of her caucus behind a solution. Florida Rep. Kathy Castor, who will lead the newly created House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, spoke to POLITICO about her plans.

CASTOR’S VISION FOR A SELECT PANEL: Florida Rep. Kathy Castor , who will lead the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis that the House voted to create Thursday night, spoke to Pro’s Anthony Adragna and Zack Colman about her vision for the panel. While Castor won’t be able to issue subpoenas or lead markups in the committee, she says it will provide a “focal point” to push the standing committees to advance policies to reduce carbon emissions. “This is a select committee on the climate crisis that is the spirit of the New Green Deal. … Our job now is to take that and put it into action: through law, through appropriations. The mechanics of that will be very labor intensive,” Castor said.

Read the whole Q&A here.

FIRST ORDER OF BUSINESS: House Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone announced Thursday the first hearing his committee will hold this year will tackle the environmental and economic impacts of climate change.

“There is no more pressing issue for our economy, our communities and our planet than climate change, and this is the first of many hearings the Committee will hold on this growing crisis,” he said.

Democrats will have to grapple with differing perspectives within their caucus even as they seek to elevate the issue. Anthony and Zack break down the dynamics at play between diverging factions of the Democratic party. Progressives, led in part by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, are trying to push Democrats in the chamber into a more urgent posture, while others are cautious, like Rep. Henry Cuellar, who co-chairs the centrist Blue Dog Coalition. “We’ve got to find a way that we can accommodate our goals and not be seen as anti-business,” Cuellar said. “A lot of the oil-and-gas state folks feel the same way.”  READ MORE

 

Excerpts from Axios: There are tensions within the party and among activists. Here are a few of the fault lines that are already apparent or could open up…

1. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) and some other insurgent progressives  backed by activists with the Sunrise Movement and Justice Democrats — say the new select committee is too weak.

  • They wanted a panel tasked with crafting a detailed proposal for a Green New Deal. They also wanted it to have subpoena power and to bar members who take fossil fuel money.

2. Competition for political attention on the campaign trail and in the House will be rampant. I know I’m a broken record here, but climate and energy are typically second-tier (at best) topics in national elections.

  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren, the first top-tier Democrat to launch a 2020 White House bid, has barely grazed the topic in her rollout in recent days and initial interviews.
  • However, her office did tell Axios that she backs the idea of a Green New Deal.
  • Some other potential candidates, including Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, make climate a priority. But large swaths of the potential 2020 field have focused their careers on other topics.

3. The nitty-gritty of crafting policy recommendations will bring some tough questions to the forefront, such has how much to emphasize carbon pricing.

  • One is whether to push for a transition to 100% renewable electricity — a pillar of the Green New Deal — or back a wider suite of technologies that a number of experts say should be part of decarbonizing power.

4. The tensions between establishment liberals like Pelosi and the new AOC crowd have been sucking up the oxygen, but getting aggressive on climate could also bring clashes with centrist and oil patch Democrats.

  • Politico has some reporting on this dynamic: “Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas), who co-chairs the centrist Blue Dog Coalition, said he plans to speak with incoming select panel chairwoman Rep. Kathy Castor (D-Fla.) and Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) about the direction and scale of climate legislation.” READ MORE

Excerpt from Solutions from the Land:  In the Senate, which retains a Republican majority, Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS) told Agri-Pulse that he will hold a hearing or roundtable to examine the impact a changing climate is having on agriculture. Roberts cited the proliferation of recent reports indicating conditions are worsening rapidly.

Among those reports was the Fourth National Climate Assessment Report, Volume II, issued in late November by a collaboration of 13 federal departments and agencies – including the Departments of Agriculture and Interior, as well as EPA. The assessment forecasts extremely hard times for the U.S. agriculture and forestry sectors if no action is taken immediately to stem the challenges that come with volatile weather and related conditions. (The first volume of the quadrennially produced assessment was released in 2017.)

Climate change is a politically charged issue. But SfL believes it is incumbent upon all agricultural and forestry leaders to carefully assess what the assessment and other reports have to say about the impact that climate change is already having and will have on the sectors going forward. We urge our partners to call on their representatives in Washington to take an active interest and role in the work of the new climate crisis committee. And they must make sure any laws or policies coming forward – whether during this Congress or after elections in 2020 – are developed with the input of stakeholders, including farmers, ranchers and forestland owners.

SfL calls on policymakers to provide the tools – conservation programs, tax incentives and research, among others – that will allow the agriculture and forestry sectors to not only adapt to the challenges, but pivot and, through sustainable farming systems and renewable energy production, capture, reduce and sequester greenhouse gas emissions – the root cause of climate change. READ MORE

Excerpt from Politico’s Morning Energy, CASTOR’S CALL: House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis Chairwoman Kathy Castor told reporters she hopes others on the panel will reject fossil fuel contributions, as she has pledged to do, but said there’s a bigger problem that demands attention. “The bigger issue too … is the huge dark money that comes from fossil fuel companies that goes untracked,” she said. “That is really the root of all evil I think. … The bigger issue is the millions and millions of dollars who are targeted to support folks that believe in the dirty economy.”

Castor said she hopes to have her members on the panel by the end of next week (January 25).  READ MORE

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