Subcommittee Examines Administration’s Climate Agenda

September 18, 2013

WASHINGTON, DC – The Energy and Power Subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY), today held a hearing on “The Obama Administration’s Climate Change Policies and Activities.” The purpose of the hearing was to examine the details of the president’s Climate Action Plan and the full scope of federal climate change-related activities and their impacts on the economy and the environment. According to the Congressional Research Service, climate change funding was approximately $77 billion across the federal government between 2008 and 2013.

“This is an oversight hearing. Congress needs specific information from the administration to evaluate the federal government’s current and planned regulatory actions,” said Whitfield. “Without this information, the public is left out of the debate, without knowing the extent of agency activity, whether it effectively addresses the established risks, or what it really will accomplish.”

The subcommittee invited 13 federal agencies to testify, but only Department of Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy accepted the invitation. Committee leaders expressed disappointment at the failure of other requested agencies to testify. Full committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) said, “It is disappointing that 11 agencies, which had ample notice to identify witnesses, including scientists, chose to decline our requests. Climate policy is a central feature of this administration’s energy policy, and given the billions of dollars currently being spent on climate activities, there is no good reason for so many agencies to decide they cannot testify before this committee.”

Full committee Chairman Emeritus Joe Barton (R-TX) echoed Whitfield and Upton’s disappointment that only two of the 13 invited agencies elected to send a representative, and that neither McCarthy or Moniz, nor the other 11 agencies, answered the straightforward questions contained in the committee’s August 6, 2013 letter. “We asked nine questions, and I asked the staff if your agencies had answered these questions, and I am told they had not,” said Barton. “The point I’m trying to make is we’re trying to have a good faith effort here to have a real dialogue, but in order to have a dialogue, we have to have the facts and we’re being stonewalled. Which means the American people [are] being stonewalled.” Watch his remarks here.
 

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Today’s hearing comes just as the EPA is expected to release a new proposed rule setting greenhouse gas emissions standards for new power plants. Committee members expressed concern over the potential adverse impacts on energy reliability and affordability of the pending rule, which is expected to require new plants to use costly carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology that is not commercially demonstrated or economically feasible. Such a rule would essentially ban the construction of any new coal-fired power plants in America. Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL) pressed Secretary Moniz and Administrator McCarthy on the viability of CCS technology and the consequences of pursuing rules that would require its installation before it is commercially available. Watch his questioning here:

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Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS) questioned Administrator McCarthy over whether the EPA’s regulatory actions have an impact on climate change. EPA’s website lists 26 indicators used for tracking climate change, however, McCarthy conceded that “it is unlikely” that any of EPA’s climate-related rules will have a meaningful impact on these climate change indicators. Watch the exchange here:

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Chairman Whitfield concluded the hearing by stating, “As we move forward, I think we all want a balanced approach – we want to protect the environment but we also want to make sure that we have a strong, viable economy, and that we don’t want to be left in a non-competitive position in the global marketplace.”

Click here to view pictures from today’s hearing.

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