Capitol Hill takes on warming as EPA preps for listening sessions
The committees — two in the Senate and one in the House — have timed their hearings to coincide with EPA’s listening sessions on its power plant greenhouse gas proposal, which will be held this week in four cities (see related story).
The Senate Budget Committee tomorrow morning will take a foray into the economic and budgetary challenges that stem from man-made warming and will include testimony from Alfredo Gomez, director of natural resources and environment at the Government Accountability Office, which tracks government budget issues.
The panel will also hear from Sherri Goodman, senior vice president and general counsel of CNA Corp. and a former deputy undersecretary of environmental security in the Defense Department, and Mindy Lubber, president of the pro-climate action investor group Ceres. The Republican invitees will include Bjorn Lomborg, director of the Copenhagen Consensus Center, and David Montgomery, senior vice president of NERA Economic Consulting. NERA has conducted analyses showing that EPA’s Clean Air Act rules would cost more than the value of their benefits when “economywide” considerations like indirect effects on employment are taken into account, while Lomborg argues that climate change will have relatively little adverse impact and mitigation should be a low priority.
The hearing comes after former Treasury Secretary Richard Rubin published a column in The Washington Postlast week calling climate change a “present danger” — and one the U.S. government and economy is woefully underprepared for.
“The U.S. economy faces enormous risks from unmitigated climate change,” he wrote. “But the metrics we currently use to measure economic growth, fiscal prospects and business earnings do not incorporate these risks. If we are going to have a well-informed and accurate debate about the economic costs of action vs. inaction, the public and private sectors need metrics that honestly reflect climate-related risk.”
Those risks include increased federal spending on disaster relief and recovery and risk to investors from businesses’ undisclosed climate vulnerabilities. He argued for a revision in the way gross domestic product is calculated to reflect the impact of greenhouse gas emissions — which will invite societal costs down the line that should be weighed against economic output.
Lomborg will do double duty at a hearing later tomorrow afternoon held by the Clean Air and Nuclear Safety subpanel of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.
The hearing is titled “Examining the Threats Posed by Climate Change” and will be presided over by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), one of the chamber’s most ardent proponents of action to curb greenhouse gas emissions.
In addition to Lomborg, the panel will also hear from Carl Hedde, head of risk accumulation at Munich Reinsurance America; Kristin Jacobs, county commissioner for Broward County, Fla.; Bill Mook, president of Mook Sea Farm; and Raymond Keating, chief economist at the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council.
Broward County is increasingly at subject to flooding due to sea-level rise and saltwater intrusion, which has been linked to climate change. It is a member of a four-country compact to address the issue.
While the Senate explores the cost of climate change, the GOP-controlled House has focused on the cost of mitigation. On Wednesday, the House Science, Space and Technology Committee will hold a hearing titled “EPA’s Carbon Plan: Failure by Design.” It will feature witnesses including Jeffrey Holmstead of Bracewell & Giuliani LLP; Charles McConnell, executive director of the Energy & Environment Initiative at Rice University; David Cash, commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Quality; and Gregory Sopkin, a partner at Wilkinson, Barker, Knauer LLP.
Schedule: The Budget Committee hearing is Tuesday, July 29, at 10 a.m. in 608 Dirksen.
Witnesses: Mindy Lubber, president of Ceres; Alfredo Gomez, director of the natural resources and environment team at the Government Accountability Office; Sherri Goodman, senior vice president and general counsel, CNA Corp.; David Montgomery, senior vice president of NERA Economic Consulting; Bjorn Lomborg, adjunct professor at the Copenhagen Business School and director of the Copenhagen Consensus Center.
Schedule: The Environment and Public Works Committee hearing is Tuesday, July 29, at 2:30 p.m. in 406 Dirksen.
Witnesses: Carl Hedde, head of risk accumulation at Munich Reinsurance America Inc.; Kristin Jacobs, commissioner, Broward County, Fla.; Bill Mook, president, Mook Sea Farm; Bjorn Lomborg, adjunct professor at Copenhagen Business School and director of the Copenhagen Consensus Center; Raymond Keating, chief economist, Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council.
Schedule: The House Science Committee hearing is Wednesday, July 30, at 10 a.m. in 2318 Rayburn.
Witnesses: Jeffrey Holmstead, partner, Bracewell & Giuliani LLP; Charles McConnell, executive director, Energy & Environment Initiative, Rice University; David Cash, commissioner, Massachusetts Department of Environmental Quality; and Gregory Sopkin, partner, Wilkinson, Barker, Knauer LLP.