Elvina Nawaguna

On the campaign trail, climate change can no longer be ignored
Democrats try to out-green each other as presidential race heats up

The 2020 elections are still many months away, but 17-year-old Michael Minsk is already following it closely as more candidates enter the race. Eager to vote for the first time next year, the high school junior is looking for a candidate promising bold action on climate change.

“Climate change is definitely one of the issues I will be voting on along with other social and economic problems,” said Minsk, who lives in Silver Spring, Maryland. “I am tired of corruption in government that prevents politicians from acting on it, so I want someone that will stand up and make changes.”

Graves sees a positive role for GOP in new select climate committee
Louisiana Republican is optimistic some bipartisan ideas can come out of the panel

Rep. Garret Graves says he wasn’t keen on joining the select committee to address climate change formed by the new Democratic House majority in January.

But on Feb. 28, weeks after the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis had been formed and long after the Democrats had announced their roster, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy appointed the Louisiana Republican as co-chairman.

Bipartisan lands bill protecting millions of acres and 650 miles of river to get House vote
The bill is expected to remain identical to what the Senate passed Feb. 12

A public lands bill that the Senate passed two weeks ago with overwhelming bipartisan support will get a vote in the House on Tuesday.

The bill is expected to remain identical to what the Senate passed Feb. 12. House Natural Resources Chairman Raul M. Grijalva of Arizona had promised Senate supporters that he would urge House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to quickly bring up the package in the House if the upper chamber passed it without significant changes to a deal agreed to last year.

Green New Deal: Some Democrats on the fence
Top Democrats who would oversee legislation in the House are reluctant to endorse plan that would remake economy

A resolution outlining the goals of the Green New Deal capped off its first week of a somewhat messy rollout with mixed reviews, even from typically Democratic strongholds like labor unions.

In the House, the top two Democrats who would oversee any legislation that comes out of the plan have remained reluctant to fully endorse it, stopping at lauding the goals and the enthusiasm behind them. And Republicans quickly branded the Green New Deal as an extreme, socialist plan with unrealistic proposals to eliminate air travel and cows.

Some GOP lawmakers are thawing on climate change
‘There are some things I’m willing to look at,’ said House Freedom Caucus chairman Rep. Mark Meadows

Congressional Republicans seem to be thawing on climate.

Rep. Mark Meadows, the chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus who has denied the science behind climate change, told reporters Wednesday he was open to confront the peril of the warming planet.

Democrats unveil Green New Deal that would push government to make radical changes
The resolution would force lawmakers to take a position on the deal, and its goals of remaking the U.S. economy within a decade

A resolution outlining the goals of an ambitious progressive plan to overhaul the U.S. economy across all sectors, from finance to energy to social services, was rolled out Thursday with the aim of driving future legislation.

The Green New Deal resolution sponsored in the House by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and in the Senate by Massachusetts Democrat Edward J. Markey cites urgent warnings in two recent major climate reports to compel the federal government to act urgently on the radical changes they say would make the U.S. resilient and sustainable across all sectors.

Wheeler EPA nomination advances on party-line panel vote
Wheeler, currently the agency's deputy administrator, has been leading the agency in an acting role since July when Scott Pruitt resigned

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee voted 11-10 along party lines to advance the nomination of Andrew Wheeler to become administrator of the EPA.

He was among five of President Donald Trump’s nominees who moved a step closer to taking key administration jobs on Tuesday, including two for the EPA and one who would fill a two-year-old vacancy at the top of the Federal Highway Administration.

After delay, House Democrats to begin climate push
The hearings will build a foundation for legislation, although the party has yet to unify around an approach to tackle global warming

The partial government shutdown stalled House Democrats’ plan to address climate change out of the gate, but they’ll turn their attention to the issue this week with hearings in the two main energy and environment committees as pressure mounts from the party’s progressive wing to confront what it considers an urgent crisis.

Two committees will hold hearings Wednesday focusing on warming global temperatures and how to mitigate the catastrophe scientists are predicting.

Coal industry fought black lung tax as disease rates rose
Coal companies and industry groups lobbied against extending a tax program that provides a lifeline for sufferers and their families

While cases of black lung disease among miners were on the rise last year, coal companies and industry groups lobbied lawmakers against extending a tax program that provides a lifeline for sufferers and their families.

Mandatory disclosures show the coal lobby spent some of its influence money on discussions with lawmakers regarding the Black Lung Excise Tax and the trust fund that helps pay for the health and living benefits of sick coal workers whose employers have gone bankrupt, and their beneficiaries.

Shutdown ties up Trump’s fossil fuel agenda
94 percent of EPA’s workers are furloughed

The partial government shutdown has snagged progress on President Donald Trump’s ambitious agenda to boost fossil fuel use and extraction, including the administration’s repeal and replacement of the Clean Power Plan, which has a March deadline.

Over the last two years, the Trump administration set in motion an aggressive deregulatory agenda, easing emissions regulations and making it easier for energy companies to extract fossil fuels from public lands. Some of the regulatory rollbacks that have been in the works are due to be finalized in the next two months but are now facing delays — such as cessation of public hearings — because of the shutdown, now in its third week.

Pelosi stresses climate action, but activists push for more
Podcast, Episode 134

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi calls climate change "an existential threat" and has established a committee to look for solutions. CQ energy & envir...
Shutdown Effects: Breakdown by Department and Agency
Thousands of federal employees will be working without a paycheck

Thousands of federal employees face the prospect of working without a paycheck as the White House budget office Friday night directed the heads of government departments and agencies to begin implementing shutdown plans.

Funding for nine departments and other agencies lapsed at midnight as President Donald Trump remained in a standoff with Congress, his demand for funding for wall construction along the border with Mexico the sticking point in talks over appropriations and a stopgap funding measure.

Cracks on Display as Democrats Plan for Climate Action
Tension has caught the attention of House Republicans, who are already using it to paint the Democrats as a party of disunity

Democrats agree they want to act on climate change, but even before they take charge of the House, they are signs of cracks in their coalition over how to advance the cause.

On Tuesday, while in Washington for new member orientations, the most prominent of newly-elected Democrats, New York’s Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, joined climate demonstrators at the office of Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to demand more aggressive action on greenhouse gases.

Midterms Wash Away Nearly Half of Climate Caucus Republicans
The bipartisan group has been unable to break the GOP bottleneck on climate change issues

The bipartisan House Climate Solutions Caucus lost nearly half of its Republican members in Tuesday’s elections, including co-founder Rep. Carlos Curbelo of Florida, posing a setback in efforts to break the GOP firewall on environmental issues.

Still, the group behind the initial formation and growth of the caucus says the loss, which came both through retirements and defeats at the polls, does not signal its end.

Ethanol Lobbying Is Up, and It Seems to Be Paying Off
Biofuels groups are spending more this year, and they may soon have summer E15 to show for it

Biofuel groups upped their spending on lobbying this year as they pressured lawmakers and the Trump administration on issues related to the Renewable Fuel Standard, which sets minimum volumes of biofuels to be used to power cars and trucks.

Some of those efforts appear to be paying off for now, as the Trump administration has proposed to allow year-round sales of gasoline containing 15 percent ethanol, or E15, which is currently prohibited between June and September. The EPA had argued previously that E15 contributes more to summer smog than the more commonly sold gasoline with 10 percent ethanol.

Ryan Zinke Violated Travel Policy, Interior Watchdog Finds
IG report details family member ride-alongs, $25,000 in vacation security

An Interior Department watchdog found that Secretary Ryan Zinke violated federal policy when he let his family members travel with him in government vehicles, although he had reimbursed the department.

A copy of the department’s inspector general report was sent to Congress and was provided to Roll Call by a congressional aide on Thursday.

Their Districts Are at Risk. But They Still Vote ‘No’ on Climate Action
High waters and toxic blooms haven’t scared these lawmakers

He lives just half a mile away from the beach in Sarasota, Florida, but Len Seligman, a local musician, has barely enjoyed the sun and sand by the waterside recently, discouraged by the stench of dead fish and other marine animals washed ashore, poisoned by toxic algal blooms.

“In the last few months, there have only been a few days that it’s been tolerable,” the 63-year-old retired computer researcher said. “You just can’t breathe when the red tide is bad.”

EPA Watchdog to Step Down as Scott Pruitt Probes Continue
Arthur Elkins had contradicted the former administrator’s account of his security detail

The EPA’s inspector general, who led multiple investigations into former Administrator Scott Pruitt’s spending and management practices at the agency, will leave in October, his office announced Tuesday.

Arthur A. Elkins Jr., who has been EPA inspector general since 2010, said in a news release that he will retire on Oct. 12, but did not indicate whether his departure is related to issues at the agency. Before becoming inspector general, Elkins worked as associate general counsel in the EPA’s Office of General Counsel.

SSTs Could Fly Again as Congress Targets Supersonic Ban
Decades-old rule says commercial aircraft can’t exceed Mach 1. That could change

The U.S. has banned domestic commercial supersonic aviation for four decades, but lawmakers could upend those restrictions in the coming weeks even as environmentalists and public health advocates warn that doing so could elevate pollution and climate damage from high speed aircraft.

Congress faces a Sept. 30 deadline to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration. A provision in the House-passed FAA reauthorization bill directs the agency to create federal and international “policies, regulations, and standards relating to the certification and safe and efficient operation of civil supersonic aircraft.”

Podcast: New Climate Change Threats Alarm Scientists
CQ on Congress, Episode 99

A CQ Magazine special report this week examines alarming new consequences of climate change, such as beetles killing trees, coral reef die-offs and food losing nutritional value. Brenda Ekwurzel of the Union of Concerned Scientists and CQ reporter Elvina Nawaguna explain the threats.