Two cabinet-level officials who oversee central pieces of the Obama administration’s plans for combating climate change will attend a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee “mega-hearing” on climate, after Republicans originally requested the presence of 13 federal agency chairs. GOP aides have said that they are disappointed with the RSVP list, and Bloomberg News’ editorial board has taken the bait, writing that the Obama administration has stiffed the subcommittee and that it “seems unwilling to play ball” in what surely will be a confrontational hearing.
Here is the witness list that Republicans and Bloomberg News find so disappointing: Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy and Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, who oversee no small portion of federal climate initiatives and clean energy programs. It’s certainly a rare, if not unheard-of event to have two cabinet-level agency heads testify before a House subcomittee. Bloomberg writes that this, “doesn’t excuse the administration’s pathetic response or mean that congressional oversight is unimportant. If anything, the president’s strategy makes congressional oversight more important.”
But does this mean that the administration is silencing the rest of its agencies, preventing Congress from receiving the information the public is due? Not at all. On Thursday, two other agencies that Energy and Commerce asked to testify will send representatives to the House Science Oversight Subcommittee hearing on weather and climate. The House Science Committee, which likes to broadcast climate denier talking points, will hear from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Bloomberg notes that the administration “cannot ask Congress and the public to have blind faith” in its achievements on climate change. However, a committee with 14 climate deniers on board is not where these issues tend to receive a fair hearing. Energy and Commerce is the same committee that’s led attacks on American clean energy companies, at the same time it advances oil and gas interests.
More revealing than the climate hearing’s witness stand on Wednesday is just who Republicans failed to ask: Climate scientists who can describe exactly what climate inaction risks.