This rather orange (just check out our ClimateEye feed) week in climate change, the House Climate Solutions Caucus, a bipartisan group dedicated to exploring climate policy options founded by Florida Reps. Carlos Curbelo (R) and Ted Deutch (D), added three more lawmakers, Reps. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), and Mia Love (R-UT). Their addition brings the total caucus membership to 18 and restores party balance after retirements left the numbers of Democrats and Republicans uneven. Curbelo said he looks forward to having “serious conversations about what we can do to protect our environment without hurting our economy,” a message echoed by Stefanik, who added “protecting our environment plays an important role in promoting economic growth and opportunity.”
The Senate held a slew of confirmation hearings at which climate change came up. Here are the highlights:
The Senate Energy and Natural Resources (ENR) Committee heard testimony from Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-MT), nominated to serve as the next Department of Interior secretary. He called himself an “unapologetic admirer of Teddy Roosevelt” and in a departure from President-elect Donald Trump, said, “I do not believe [climate change] is a hoax” but questioned what the federal government “can do about it.”
Likewise, Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, tapped to lead the Department of Energy, distinguished himself from his new boss by telling ENR Committee members that he “believe(s) the climate is changing.”
“Some of it is naturally occurring but some of it is caused by manmade activity,” he elaborated. “The question is how we address it in a thoughtful way that doesn’t compromise economic growth…the affordability of energy…or American jobs.”
Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, poised to take the helm at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, testified before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. In a common refrain this week, Pruitt also said he doesn’t “believe climate change is a hoax” but demurred on the level to which human activity is the root cause.”Science tells us that the climate is changing and that human activity in some manner impacts that change,” he testified. “The ability to measure with precision the degree and extent of that impact and what to do about it are subject to continuing debate and dialogue, and well it should be.”
United Nations Ambassador nominee, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley told members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that “the climate change situation should always be on the table, it should always be one of the issues we look at.” When asked whether she supports the U.S. remaining a part of the Paris climate agreement, Haley said “we should acknowledge what we do believe is right but we don’t want to do it at the peril of our industries and our businesses along the way…. we don’t ever want it to interfere with our economy.”
Tune in next week as we continue to mine for and cheer for good ecoright climate news.