Three Days of Climate Hearings Reveal Little New

October 30, 2009 Bookmark and Share

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee held three days of hearings with 54 witnesses this week on climate change legislation.

The Secretaries of Energy, Transportation and Interior testified the first day of hearings along with the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency and chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Other witnesses included sitting Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), former Senator John Warner (R-Va.) and representatives of interests throughout the economy, including unions, environmental groups, private enterprise, think tanks, transportation advocates, state regulatory agencies, academia, utilities, the Defense Department and even Google.

Committee Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) released a Chairman’s mark of her climate change bill late last week with limited EPA analysis attached. In a move that has already proved contentious, the bill text would allow EPA to continue to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act, which the Agency was given the authority to do by the 2007 Supreme Court ruling in Massachusetts v. EPA.

Like a previous draft, the Chairman’s mark failed to include a robust agricultural piece. NAWG and other agricultural groups are working with the office of Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and others to help create language for an amendment that will include agriculture provisions.

Boxer indicated this week that the bill’s mark-up would begin as early as Tuesday and last a number of days, though it is unclear if Republicans, wary of the draft bill and the time allowed to review it, will accept that timeline or if they will boycott.

The goal of Congressional Leadership has been to substantially complete climate change legislation before an international meeting on the issue in December, but political considerations and a heavy legislative calendar have been impediments, and that now appears unlikely.

The Chairman’s mark is accessible online by visiting and clicking under “Majority Page,” “Press Releases” and selecting the Oct. 23, 2009, release. Witness lists and Webcast archives from all three hearings this week are also available at under “Hearings”.