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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

House GOP agrees to hold climate science hearing at request of 10 Democrats, including Henry Waxman and Bobby Rush

House GOP agrees to hold climate science hearing at request of Democrats

by Andrew Restuccia, The Hill, March 1, 2011
Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee agreed Tuesday to hold a hearing next week on climate science at the request of top Democrats on the panel.

Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), chairman of the panel’s energy and power subcommittee, said he would schedule a hearing next Tuesday on two new studies that link climate change to severe weather.

The hearing comes as Republicans on the committee, led by full committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) are preparing to move legislation that would permanently block the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gas emissions.
“We have not decided specifically on a day for a markup that I’m aware of, however we do want to move quickly on this,” Whitfield said of the legislation.

Full committee ranking Democrat Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.), who chairs the subcommittee, requested the hearing on the climate science hearing last week.

Following up on that request, Waxman and Rush, along with eight other Democrats, sent a letter to Whitfield Tuesday requesting a hearing on climate science. In the letter, the lawmakers say that Republicans would not allow testimony from Professor Don Boesch, president of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, at Tuesday afternoon’s hearing. 

Tuesday’s hearing, on the effect of Environmental Protection Agency regulations on jobs, will include testimony from the Ohio Coal Association and the Industrial Energy Association of America. The second panel will include testimony from EPA air chief Gina McCarthy.

Whitfield agreed to hold the hearing Tuesday after Waxman criticized Republicans for not allowing more testimony from scientists, noting that the witness list was dominated by industry groups.

“Look, I just think it’s important to hear from scientists on this issue before we mark up this bill,” Waxman said.

Whitfield said the committee held a series of hearings on climate science in the last Congress, when Democrats still held the majority in the House. “We have had in the Congress over 24 hearings on climate change and the climate science related to it.”

But Whitfield ultimately agreed to hold a hearing next week. He said he had an hour-long meeting with staff to determine an appropriate date for the hearing. Noting that the committee’s calendar is “very, very full,” Whitfield said he would schedule the hearing for next Tuesday.

Though the hearing will include at least two witnesses chosen by Democrats, Whitfield reserved the right to call “a witness or two” of his own.

Republicans on the panel expressed frustration that Whitfield agreed to hold a hearing at Democrats’ request. 

“It would be very difficult to have an appropriate, proper hearing by next Tuesday, given everything that is happening this week and everything that is scheduled to happen next week,” Rep. Joe Barton [infamous for having apologized to BP CEO Tony Haywood] (R-Texas) said.

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