Energy and Commerce Republicans ditch climate denial
John Shimkus (R-Ill.), Shimkus, in particular, seems to have evolved on the issue quite a bit. At the hearing last week, he called for “smart and pragmatic” action on climate change. He also authored an op-ed with Walden and former E&C Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) last month in RealClearPolicy in which the trio said they have better ideas for addressing climate than Democrats. Compare that with 2009, when Shimkus said climate change was against his religious beliefs because God promised not to destroy the world again after the Great Flood in the Bible (Climatewire, March 1).
Shimkus credited his change in tone to a trip he took to Greenland “five or six years ago” with the NATO Parliamentary Assembly. “If you go to Greenland, you have to accept the fact that their climate today is different than their climate was 100 years ago,” he said in an interview. “They’re growing vegetables where they didn’t used to grow vegetables, they’re worried about a northwest passage and they’ve got tourists up there now.”…
Walden and his group of members are still contending with other factions of the GOP that remain solidly skeptical about climate science. On the Natural Resources panel, for instance, Republicans shut down a hearing on climate change denial last month because they didn’t believe it was in their jurisdiction (E&E News PM, Feb. 26).
GOP Congressman: ‘Climate change is real, and as Republican Leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, we are focused on solutions. …We must address climate change in ways that focus on American prosperity and technological capabilities while maintaining America’s leadership in clean and renewable energy innovation.’ – By Reps. Greg Walden, Fred Upton & John Shimkus
U.S. Senate Republicans hold rare climate hearing, and more might be coming – Global warming is “directly impacting our way of life,” said Senator Lisa Murkowski, the Alaska Republican who leads the panel. Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, the top-ranking Democrat, added, “There’s no doubt that humans have made a tremendous impact on what we’re dealing with.”
By Nick Sobczyk, E&E News reporter
When Democrats took over the House, Energy and Commerce Republicans met to discuss their strategy on climate change. The result may be bipartisan action.
“I wanted our members, and I met with each one on our committee individually or in small groups, to tell me where they’re at and where they thought we should go,” ranking member Greg Walden (R-Ore.), formerly the panel’s chairman, told reporters last week.
Their decision, evident in the hearings held so far in the Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change, was to develop their own message on the issue and to do away with the denial that has long defined the GOP.
“We now are speaking for our party on that committee and not allowing others to tell the public what they think Republicans are about,” Walden said.
“I suffered through a lot of that and just ignored it. I said, ‘I’m not going to ignore it anymore; I’ll say what I’m for and what I’m not for.'”
The result is climate kumbayah on Energy and Commerce and an acceptance of science from its GOP members that would have been shocking just a few years ago and is still unusual in other committee rooms.
The chummy atmosphere on the House’s pre-eminent climate panel is raising hopes among Democrats that they might be able to substantively tackle climate change in the 116th Congress, after all.
“I think the reality is, if you listen to their rhetoric, that the Republicans on our committee have changed,” E&C Chairman Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) told E&E News. “In other words, they’re now suggesting that they want to address climate change, and they recognize that climate change is real.”
Walden, who in the past has not disputed human-caused climate change, boils down GOP ideas for addressing climate change into four “buckets”: innovation, conservation, adaptation and preparation.
“I think it’s a worldview that accepts that the climate’s changing, and industry is a contributor to it, we’re going to need to do something about it, and we need to innovate our way out of it,” Walden said.
Walden and his group of members are still contending with other factions of the GOP that remain solidly skeptical about climate science.
On the Natural Resources panel, for instance, Republicans shut down a hearing on climate change denial last month because they didn’t believe it was in their jurisdiction (E&E News PM, Feb. 26).
In the Senate, the Energy and Natural Resources Committee is moving forward with hearings on climate, but on the floor GOP leaders are focused on attacking the Green New Deal (E&E News PM, March 6).