Environment Subcommittee Held Final Hearing in Climate Change Series for Climate Week of Action
Washington, D.C. (Sept. 28, 2020)—On Friday, September 25, 2020, Rep. Harley Rouda, the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Environment, held a hearing to explore solutions to the climate crisis—including actions that can be taken by the federal government to support the transition to a green economy and increase competitiveness in the global marketplace.
Thursday’s hearing followed the release of the full Committee’s “COR Climate Change Agenda,” a set of six bills that draw on recommendations from the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis that fall within the Committee’s jurisdiction. One of the bills introduced by Subcommittee Chairman Rouda and Oversight and Reform Committee Chairwoman Carolyn B. Maloney, The Federal Agency Climate PREP Act, would require climate change adaptation planning and coordination at all federal agencies.
The Subcommittee heard testimony from Robert C. Orr, Ph.D, Dean of the University of Maryland School of Public Policy; Rachel Cleetus, Ph.D, Policy Director, Climate and Energy Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists; Christopher Castro, Senior Advisor to Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and Director of Sustainability & Resilience at the City of Orlando; Reed Schuler, Senior Policy Advisor at the Office of the Governor for Governor Jay Inslee; and minority witness Kevin Dayaratna, PhD. Principal Statistician, Data Scientist, and Research Fellow at the Heritage Foundation.
Members and witnesses discussed innovative strategies to transition to a green economy and the economic opportunities and health benefits of doing so:
- We’re currently experiencing real-time, record-breaking examples of climate change that present serious threats to Americans’ health and safety. Congresswoman Holmes Norton asked witnesses about the impacts of climate-fueled natural disasters on Americans’ health and safety, especially during the coronavirus pandemic. In response, Mr. Schuler highlighted the destructive impacts of large-scale wildfires on the health, safety, and livelihoods of Washington state residents, and Mr. Castro stressed that rising sea levels, increased storm surges, climate migration, and hurricanes are impacting the wellbeing of Floridians.
- The industries of the future are not fossil fuel-based, and the longer the United States delays the transition to clean, renewable energy, the more we will fall behind in the global marketplace. Chairman Rouda’s questions focused on the use of economic incentives to advance the transition to a more sustainable economy and the need for greater parity in federal subsidies for renewables over fossil fuels. In response, Dr. Orr testified that greater parity in supporting renewable energy sources through the U.S. tax code presents an opportunity for economic growth and job creation to drive innovation.
- Communities who have disproportionately faced serious health and economic harms as a result of fossil fuel production and climate change cannot be left behind in the transition to a greener economy. Congresswoman Tlaib stressed the importance of addressing environmental injustice in the transition away from fossil fuels, and that a status quo approach has not worked for frontline communities, including many of her constituents in Southwest Detroit. In response, Dr. Cleetus stressed the need to for the federal government to increase investment and advance policies that can solve multiple crises at once—including the current economic crisis, public health challenges, and the climate crisis.
- Cities and states across the county are looking for the federal government’s leadership and partnership in supporting and advancing climate action. Full Committee Chairwoman Maloney’s question focused on the importance of innovation at the state and city level and ways to implementat these strategies on a national scale. Mr. Schuler discussed the innovative strategies that states like Washington are taking to experiment, develop, and deploy strategies to move forward with efforts to achieve widescale decarbonization – and that these efforts would be greatly assisted through greater collaboration with the federal government. Mr. Castro pointed to the City of Orlando’s efforts to accelerate transportation electrification as a model of successful efforts that could be mirrored on the federal level. Additionally, Mr. Schuler emphasized the importance of the Paris Agreement and he stated that cooperation among countries that are large and small, rich and poor, and major emitters and minor emitters is needed to make meaningful progress in solving this worldwide collective action problem addressing climate change.