Republicans will eliminate the House committee created by Speaker Nancy Pelosi to highlight the threat of climate change, Representative James Sensenbrenner, the top Republican on the panel, said today.
In one of her first acts as speaker in 2007, Pelosi, a California Democrat, created the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming to draw attention to climate-change science and showcase how a cap on carbon dioxide needn’t be a threat to economic growth.
Republicans, who won control of the House in the Nov. 2 election, have opposed legislative efforts to regulate carbon emissions as a tax on energy. When the panel convened today, Sensenbrenner, a Wisconsin Republican, said that the hearing “will be the last of the select committee.”
Sensenbrenner had advocated extending the panel as a forum to scrutinize Obama administration actions. In an opinion column on Nov. 8 in the Washington newspaper Roll Call, he wrote that the committee was “more qualified than any other” to challenge Obama environmental initiatives that he said may threaten the economy. He acknowledged that other Republicans thought the panel should be eliminated to save money.
“We are going to get rid of waste and duplication in terms of how we run the Congress,” House Republican Leader John Boehner, who is slated to become speaker in January, told reporters today. “We believe the Science Committee is more than capable of handling this issue and in the process save several million dollars.”
Drew Hammill, a spokesman for Pelosi, said it’s “very disappointing” that House Republicans will shut the committee and won’t make energy independence and climate change a priority in the next Congress.
“Disbanding the select committee does not diminish the urgent need to act on these very critical issues,” Hammill said in an e-mailed statement.
The election increased the ranks of Republican climate-change skeptics in both the House and Senate, according to ThinkProgress, an arm of the Center for American Progress Action Fund, a Washington research group allied with Democrats.
Committee Chairman Edward Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat, criticized the attitude among many Republican lawmakers.
“While members of Congress may question the science of global warming, the rest of the world does not,” he said in his final statement as chairman.
The panel held 75 hearings, creating a record of evidence showing that humans are causing the planet to warm and that the United States is in danger of falling behind in the race for clean-energy technologies, Markey said. China plans to invest $738 billion on clean-energy technologies, he said.
“The politics may change but the problem isn’t going away,” Markey said.