Close this search box.

House hearing confronts GOP’s 1 trillion tree planting push to battle climate change

2018 Newsletter Logo: Morning Energy

House hearing confronts tree planting push — The energy package hold-up — Interior deputy confirmed

— The parties’ different approaches to tackling carbon emissions will be on display today during a House committee hearing.

— The leaders of the Senate Energy Committee signaled Tuesday there are working to iron out a few remaining issues on an anticipated broad energy package.

— Lawmakers voted Tuesday to confirm the president’s pick for deputy secretary of the Interior Department.

GOOD MORNING! IT’S WEDNESDAY. I’m your host, Kelsey Tamborrino. Check out the POLITICO Energy podcast — all the energy and environmental politics and policy news you need to start your day, in just five minutes. Listen and subscribe for free at

Natural Resources Defense Council’s Ed Chen was the quickest to correctly name former President Ronald Reagan as the first president to lead a labor union. Reagan led the Screen Actors Guild. For today: When President Woodrow Wilson signed the act in 1916 creating the National Park Service, how many national parks and monuments was the agency responsible for? Send your tips, energy gossip and comments to [email protected].

CAN’T SEE THE HEARING FOR THE TREES: The House Natural Resources Committee will examine two bills today with two markedly different approaches to tackling climate change. One bill, H.R. 5435 (116), from Chairman Raúl Grijalva would require net-zero emissions from the nation’s public lands and oceans by 2040, and another bill, H.R. 5859 (116), from Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.) gives the legislative backing to plant 1 trillion trees by 2050.

While Democrats and environmentalists say they support the concept of planting massive numbers of trees, they fear the bill is Republicans’ way to seek political cover on an issue that’s a growing concern for voters. Today’s hearing will provide them with a chance to highlight the differences between the two parties’ plans to fight climate change, Pro’s Anthony Adragna reports this morning.

“By all means, let’s plant the trees. Let’s start there,” said Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.), a senior member of the Natural Resources Committee. “But one of these days we have to be able to talk about things that transition us away from fossil fuels to clean energy. We can’t just continue to skirt around the edges.”

The bill from Westerman, a Yale-educated forester, was unveiled earlier this month as part of a moderate package of Republican bills to combat climate change — earning a mixed reception within Republican circles. The measure incentivizes the use of wood products, but it does not require any specific level of emissions reductions, in line with a Republican emphasis on avoiding new regulations on fossil fuel production or consumption. Westerman said he began crafting it following publication of a July 2019 study in Science that found planting a trillion trees could significantly curb carbon dioxide emissions. “If we can’t agree about trees, I don’t know what we could agree about,” he told POLITICO.

But among the concerns Democrats and environmentalists have raised about the bill are its provisions placing limits on judicial review in forest management cases; defining biomass as carbon neutral — a divisive position in the environmental community — and failing to consider factors like log transportation and building demolition when calculating the carbon lifecycle potential of national forests, Anthony reports. Ahead of today’s hearing, more than 95 conservation and climate groups called on lawmakers on the committee to oppose Westerman’s bill, arguing it “presents a false solution for addressing the climate crisis by misallocating resources to focus on industrial logging rather than on urgently needed steep reductions of fossil fuel emissions.”