Overnight Energy: John Kerry hits Trump over climate change at hearing | Defends Ocasio-Cortez from GOP attacks | Dems grill EPA chief over auto emissions rollback plan

OBAMA SECRETARIES SAY CLIMATE CHANGE ALREADY AFFECTING NATIONAL SECURITY: Former Secretary of State John KerryJohn Forbes KerryJohn Kerry: Ocasio-Cortez offered ‘more leadership in one day’ than Trump on climate Overnight Defense: Trump labels elite Iranian military unit a terrorist group | Iran hits back with terrorist label for US Central Command | US troops, contractor killed in Afghanistan blast Overnight Energy: EPA watchdog issues rare ‘alert’ on toxic substances data | Trump to announce new orders to speed up pipeline permits | New Keystone XL pipeline permit challenged in court | Congress approves seven-state drought bill MORE swiped at President TrumpDonald John TrumpTop senators warn Turkey: Choose between Russia missile system or US fighter jet Former Michelle Obama aide: ‘Not sure’ if voters got ‘honesty and accountability’ in Biden’s video response How Republicans are battling judicial obstructionism today MORE while voicing concerns about the effects of global climate change on U.S. national security during an appearance Wednesday on Capitol Hill

Kerry and former Defense Secretary Chuck HagelCharles (Chuck) Timothy HagelOvernight Defense: Trump labels elite Iranian military unit a terrorist group | Iran hits back with terrorist label for US Central Command | US troops, contractor killed in Afghanistan blast Overnight Energy: EPA watchdog issues rare ‘alert’ on toxic substances data | Trump to announce new orders to speed up pipeline permits | New Keystone XL pipeline permit challenged in court | Congress approves seven-state drought bill Overnight Energy: Bipartisan Senate group seeks more funding for carbon capture technology | Dems want documents on Interior pick’s lobbying work | Officials push to produce more electric vehicle batteries in US MORE, who both served under former President Obama, referred to climate change as a multiplier effect on a number of pressing security issues while testifying during a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing.

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“Unfortunately, instead of mobilizing efforts to fight climate change, President Trump has attacked the science, weakened environmental protections, and undermined U.S. leadership abroad,” Kerry told lawmakers.

“I understand there may be differences of opinion on how we should respond, but there should be no uncertainty about whether we should respond. … Each day that we fail to act on climate change, we are risking the health and security of future generations.”

Climate’s effects: Kerry and Hagel mentioned climate change’s effects on migration patterns, security of military infrastructure, recruitment of terrorists and food security. They also put a focus on extreme weather events.

“This past year’s extreme weather has seriously affected our military readiness,” Hagel said, naming military bases that have recently been damaged by severe weather.

Trump climate committee: The former Obama Cabinet members also took aim at Trump’s plan to form a committee to reevaluate the scientific consensus surrounding climate change, with Kerry referring to the plan as “a scheme to pretend there are two sides to an issue long since settled.”

A growing number of agencies have informed the National Security Council that they do not plan to participate in the climate committee. A number of security experts have also voiced concern over the climate’s potential impact, with Director of National Intelligence Dan CoatsDaniel (Dan) Ray CoatsMueller report is over, but authoritarian threat to our elections is not: How to fight it Schiff presses intel leaders for details on how Chinese woman gained unauthorized access to Mar-a-Lago Trump not concerned about security at Mar-a-Lago after woman’s arrest MORE saying that climate change would increase “the risk of social unrest, migration, and interstate tension.”

Kerry, who was involved in negotiations on the Paris climate accord during the Obama administration, said Tuesday that millions of people may “have to move because they can’t eat, can’t drink. The instability that is created would be manna from heaven for extremists.”

“That becomes the concern of our military that has people posted around the world in these locations, fighting terrorism, trying to protect the United States of America,” he said.

Republicans hit back: The hearing, scheduled by Democrats in control of the Oversight Committee, was put on to address the intersection of climate change and national security, but several Republicans on the panel used their speaking time to slam the Green New Deal introduced earlier this year by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezJohn Kerry: Ocasio-Cortez offered ‘more leadership in one day’ than Trump on climate Obama had it right — a circular firing squad is on the way Speaker in waiting? Rapid rise of Hakeem Jeffries fuels talk MORE (D-N.Y.) and other progressives aimed at combatting climate change.

Rep. Jody HiceJody Brownlow HicePark Service defends funds used to stay open during shutdown House Republicans can force a Green New Deal vote too — here’s how GOP rep says being in the minority will make it difficult for Republicans to probe Russia investigation MORE (R-Ga.) told the committee he plans to try and force a House vote on the Green New Deal once Congress returns from its Easter recess.

“The Green New Deal as a resolution is important because it sets forth a precedent, a clear choice for the American people; it sets forth a clear choice between two parties on a very important issue,” Hice said, characterizing the policy as increasing household energy bills, eliminating fossil fuels and requiring removal of a large portion of U.S. vehicles off the road.

“On the other side you have groups that believe in free market enterprise, believe in federalism, believe competition, capitalism, believe that the best way to address this is to get the federal government out of it,” he added.

Read more here.

 

But after the attacks on the Green New Deal…

 

KERRY DEFENDS OCASIO-CORTEZ: Kerry defended freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) for offering “more leadership in one day or one week than President Trump has in his lifetime” on climate change.

Kerry also criticized Republicans for a failure to offer up a proposal of their own.

“There are a lot of proposals, but none of them are coming from your party or your side of the aisle,” Kerry told Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.), who had pushed Kerry to explain how the nation would pay for the Green New Deal.

Kerry came under a fair amount of criticism himself, with Rep. Thomas MassieThomas Harold MassieJohn Kerry: Ocasio-Cortez offered ‘more leadership in one day’ than Trump on climate Overnight Defense: Lawmakers urge Trump not to veto Yemen resolution | Pentagon acknowledges civilian deaths in Somalia for first time | Pompeo ‘confident’ in third North Korea summit Overnight Defense: NATO chief urges US to support alliance on its 70th anniversary | Turkey rebuffs Pentagon pressure over Russia deal | Rand Paul, liberals team up to push Trump on Syria withdrawal MORE (R-Ky.) calling Kerry a “pseudo scientist” in reference to his political science degree.

“Mr. Chairman, this is just not a serious conversation,” Kerry said in response to the exchange.

Ocasio-Cortez responded on Twitter, saying she was “honored and humbled” by Kerry’s remark.

Read more here.

 

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Please send tips and comments to Miranda Green, mgreen@thehill.com and Rebecca Beitsch, rbeitsch@thehill.com. Follow us on Twitter: @mirandacgreen, @rebeccabeitsch and @thehill.

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BUDGET HEARING FOCUSES ON EMISSIONS ROLLBACK: Democrats on Tuesday grilled Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) head Andrew Wheeler over his agency’s decision to roll back an Obama-era fuel emissions standard.

While the hearing before the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on environment and climate change was meant to critique the agency’s 2020 budget plan, Wheeler faced numerous questions from lawmakers about his agency’s not-yet-finalized plan to weaken the emissions standards for cars and light trucks.

“This proposed action is a perfect example of how EPA prioritizes boosting industries like the oil industry over public safety,” said Rep. Doris MatsuiDoris Okada MatsuiBipartisan group asks DHS, ICE to halt deportations of Iraqi nationals Dem chair offers bill to crack down on robocalls Pelosi allies push back on proposed Speaker nominee rule change MORE (D-Calif).

Democratic lawmakers lobbed Wheeler with critical questions about the plan, officially proposed last August. EPA officials argued when submitting the proposal that the previous emissions standards determined under Obama and agreed to by U.S. automakers were limiting the car industry.

Wheeler told lawmakers Tuesday that the new plan would be just as strong on cutting emissions.

“I’ve been told by my staff that the impact of CO2 emissions are pretty similar to the Obama proposal, because the Obama proposal had a number of exemptions and off-ramps and many car auto makers are not complying with standards today,” Wheeler told members.

The Golden State: Yet lawmakers’ biggest concerns involved EPA’s announcement in February that negotiations had ended with California — a state that argues it has an exemption under the Clean Air Act to regulate its own emissions standards.

California’s government is arguing that the new emissions plan is not stringent enough to mitigate smog and global warming. On Monday, the state sued the EPA to get the agency’s internal data used to draft the emissions policy. A larger suit against the agency’s plan is expected.

“California is uniquely situated and has some of the worst air quality. It has a unique authority to regulate emissions,” Matsui told Wheeler Tuesday.

She blamed the EPA for cutting off conversations with California’s Air and Resource Board (CARM) Chair Mary Nichols. A failure to reach a consensus with the state could mean the creation of more than one national emissions standard– a reality auto groups argue will be financially challenging to the industry.

“If you actually engaged in good faith with California auto manufactures you could get a 50 states solution through an agreement– although you state this, you never really tried,” said Matsui.

Read more here.

 

FROM THE HILL’S OPINION SECTION:

Despite the recent Senate debate on the Green New Deal full of play-acting and show votes, members from both parties now appear open to meaningful dialogue on tackling greenhouse gas emissions, argues Carter Roberts, president and CEO of World Wildlife Fund.

 

OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY:

Midwest floods are impacting oil prices, Reuters reports.

Norway refuses to drill for billions of barrels of oil in the Arctic, from The Hill.

Many U.S. cities are rapidly growing their solar capacity, Industry Dive reports.

PG&E among utilities cited for failing to protect against cyber and physical attacks, The Wall Street Journal reports

NY mayor offers $30M in state funding available for electric grid projects, the Associated Press reports

 

ON TAP WEDNESDAY:

In the House, the Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands will review the spending priorities of the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management

The Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy will discuss energy efficiency and workforce diversity

The House Appropriations Subcommitee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies will discuss the economic opportunities of sustainable farming practices.

Over in the Senate, the Committee on Environment and Public Works will review S. 383 and S. 747 dealing with emissions.

The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development will review the budget for the Army Corps of Engineers & Bureau of Reclamation

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

-Several agencies refusing to take part in Trump’s committee to reassess climate science: report

-John Kerry: Ocasio-Cortez offered ‘more leadership in one day’ than Trump on climate

-Norway refuses to drill for billions of barrels of oil in Arctic region

-Dems grill EPA chief over auto emissions rollback plan

-Kerry goes after Trump over climate on Capitol Hill

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