Three Democrats set to chair committees in the House of Representatives have promised to investigate the Trump administration’s rollback of climate measures, and investigate officials they say have been given a free pass from House Republicans. They plan to look into alleged misconduct by officials at the Environmental Protection Agency, Interior Department, and Housing and Urban Development Department, according to the Washington Post.
Texas representative Eddie Bernice Johnson will chair the House committee Science, Space, and Technology. She said she plans to review a White House proposal that would limit the use of some scientific studies in forming policy.
Raúl Grijalva, of Arizona, will chair the Natural Resources committee, and will aim to have Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke testify on a Montana real-estate deal between a foundation established by Zinke and a Halliburton chairman. As Interior Secretary, Zinke is tasked with regulating companies like Halliburton, which benefits from the department’s decisions to roll back regulations on drilling or open public lands. Trump has also said he is “looking at” the allegations against Zinke.
Grijalva has also said he will conduct hearings to investigate a plan to reorganize the Interior Department, saying it would needlessly break up “pretty well-functioning” offices.
Finally, Frank Pallone Jr, a New Jersey Representative who is expected to lead the Energy and Commerce committee, said Democrats will also assess Trump’s moves to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement, and to roll-back Obama-era rules of emissions from coal power plants. He will review whether the administration is adhering to legal requirements on reviewing harmful chemicals and issuing energy-efficiency standards.
In other areas, Democrat leaders expressed intentions to work with the White House, on matters such as clean drinking water, and using oil and gas revenue to fix pipes and roads in national parks.
Democrats are themselves divided over approaches to environmental issues. Nancy Pelosi, who is likely to lead the Democratic majority as Speaker of the House, supports the reestablishment of a special committee on climate change, first established in 2007, and eliminated four years later when Republicans won a majority. Pallone and Johnson however, believe such a committee would be redundant given their own plans.
“We have climate change champions leading all these committees,” said Pallone.
Meanwhile, some progressive freshman representatives, such as New York’s Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, want to go even further, pushing for Democrats to put forward a plan to reach 100 percent renewable energy sources in just ten years. While such a plan is considered highly ambitious, it comes in response to increasingly urgent warnings from scientists on the effect of climate change stemming from carbon emissions. Ocasio-Cortez said to reporters Tuesday:
“I don’t want to see Miami underwater, I don’t want to see my own district underwater, and I know that Leader Pelosi doesn’t, either.”