Congress takes on climate change

Feb 8, 2019

We can’t say this enough: Elections. Have. Consequences. On Election Day, candidates ran on and voters demanded climate action, and this week was a clear demonstration of the new House majority’s strong commitment to climate action. Here’s a quick recap of all of the action from clean energy and climate champions in Congress.

The members who will form the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis were named on Thursday. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the creation of this committee to shine a light on the dire impacts climate change is having on our communities, the costs of inaction, and the equitable solutions to a clean energy economy for all.

Read more about the new Select Committee members »

The day after President Trump failed to even mention climate change in his State of the Union address, the House of Representatives held multiple committee hearings on climate change for the first time in nearly a decade. The commitment to addressing climate change and its impact on communities was shown throughout both hearings. In the Energy and Commerce committee, Chairman Frank Pallone (NJ-06) and Environment & Climate Change Subcommittee Chairman Paul Tonko (NY-20) held a hearing titled “Time to Act” that featured a climate scientist co-author of the recent IPCC report, the BlueGreen Alliance, and a pastor from South Carolina who has been organizing the Justice First Tour.

During this hearing, Congresswoman Nanette Barragán (CA-44), Congressman Donald McEachin (VA-04), and Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester (DE-AL) highlighted the disproportionate impact that climate change has on communities of color.

The hearing in the House Natural Resources committee, led by longtime climate champion Chairman Raul Grijalva (AZ-03), also reflected climate impacts in communities, and showcased newly elected clean energy and climate champions like Representative Deb Haaland (NM-01) and Representative Joe Neguse (CO-01). Hip Hop Caucus President and CEO and LCV Board Member Rev. Lennox Yearwood also testified about the impacts climate change is having on frontline communities and the urgent need for action.

The House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water, Oceans and Wildlife also held its first hearing of this Congress, focusing on the impacts climate change is having on our oceans. The majority-women panel featured LCV Board Chair Dr. Carol Browner, who issued a rallying cry for climate action: “With a new Congress comes a new opportunity to lead and a new opportunity to act. The scientists are issuing the warnings. We are running out of time. Now is the time for action that addresses climate change, quickens the inevitable transition to clean energy sources, and protects our oceans and environment for future generations who deserve to live in a safe and clean world.”

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14) and Senator Ed Markey (MA), along with nearly 60 of their colleagues, introduced the Green New Deal resolution, setting goals of 100% clean, renewable energy; major investments in climate-smart infrastructure; good-paying jobs; and a just transition for workers and communities hardest hit by pollution. LCV supported this resolution because it is critical that we tackle the twin challenges of the climate crisis and racial and economic inequality.

This is all happening because climate voters showed up to the polls. In 2018, over 600 winning candidates up and down the ballot committed to moving our country to 100% clean energy, including 56 new House members and nine new governors. Now we’re seeing that difference, from the Clean Energy for All governors using their first weeks in office to bold clean energy policies to the new pro-environment majority in the House of Representatives confronting the climate crisis head on.

Polluters and their allies have had a grip on Congress for far too long, but the pro-environment majority that swept into the House in the 2018 midterm elections couldn’t have made a more clear case for how much elections matter than this week. This is only the beginning. Stay tuned for more updates on climate action!