House GOP leader didn’t get much turnout from Obama agencies

The Republican majority on a House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Sept. 17 issued a statement lamenting that it will apparently get scant turnout from the Obama Administration at a Sept. 18 hearing on White House climate change initiatives.

The panel, chaired by Rep. Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., a frequent voice against the administration’s ostensible “war on coal,” will hold a Sept. 18 hearing entitled “The Obama Administration’s Climate Change Policies and Activities.”

On Aug. 6 Whitfield sent requests to 13 federal agencies to testify at the hearing, and sent a follow up letter Sept. 4 reiterating his request. Although agencies were given over six weeks notice, the only confirmed attendees are Department of Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy.

Said Whitfield on Sept. 17: “What does it say about an administration that is largely unwilling to testify on its top policy initiative? More than $77 billion was spent between 2008 and 2013 across the government on climate activities, and yet the ‘most transparent administration in history’ can only find two people to testify from these agencies that employ tens of thousands of employees and receive significant funding for climate change related activities.”

He added: “Advancing its climate agenda is one of the highest priorities of the administration. President Obama featured it in his inaugural address in January and his State of the Union speech in February, and released his climate change plan in June. It is appropriate for Congress to conduct oversight of the plan, as well as of the administration’s current climate activities for which billions of dollars are being spent annually. We look forward to a thoughtful exchange with Secretary Moniz and Administrator McCarthy, but EPA and DOE represent just two of the federal agencies engaged in carrying out the administration’s overall climate change agenda.”

According to a Sept. 16 hearing memo from the panel, in 2011 the Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report tracking funding going back to 1993 and estimating that it increased from $2.3bn in 1993 to over $8.7bn in 2010. The Congressional Research Service (CRS) estimated in 2012 that climate change funding for climate science, technology, international assistance and adaptation was about $70bn for the 2008-2012 period.

The State Department Majority Memorandum for the Sept. 18 Subcommittee on Energy and Power hearing reports that over the period 2010-2012, the U.S. government provided $7.5bn in foreign assistance to address climate change. In August, the Office of Management and Budget released a report estimating that climate change expenditures in 2012 were about $20bn, and projecting 2013 expenditures would exceed $22bn.

“Climate change activities across the U.S. government involve an expansive and growing set of domestic and international activities, ranging from research and technology development programs, to regulatory initiatives, to international partnerships and agreements, to adaptation activities,” said the memo.

The memo added that on June 25, the President also issued a Presidential Memorandum directing EPA to re-propose greenhouse gas standards for new power plants by Sept. 20 and finalize that rule in “a timely fashion,” and also to propose standards for existing plants by June 1, 2014, finalize those standards by June 1, 2015, and require states to submit implementation plans not later than June 30, 2016.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.