climate

DeFazio wants to go big on infrastructure despite hurdles
Plan embraces automated vehicles and intelligent transportation roadways

House Transportation Committee chairman Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., is pushing an ambitious bill that could help House Democrats show they are trying to do big things beyond impeachment (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Democrats are renewing their push for a major infrastructure bill without the support they once hoped to get from President Donald Trump.

House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Peter A. DeFazio, D-Oregon, presented a comprehensive infrastructure plan during a closed-door meeting of House Democrats late Thursday. The legislation is still being drafted, he said, and he declined to offer any cost estimates.

Climate change solutions can’t wait for the politics to catch up
New Democrat Coalition pushes for bills that have bipartisan support and can make a difference

Climate change youth activists demonstrate at the Supreme Court on Sept. 18. Solutions to the climate crisis must not get caught up in partisan battles, New Democrat Coalition Chairman Derek Kilmer writes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — In the Pacific Northwest, we have a sense of urgency about addressing climate change. That urgency is driven, in part, by the fact that we are already seeing its impacts.

Where I’m from, we have four coastal tribes that are trying to move to higher ground due to rising sea levels and more severe storms. Catastrophic wildfires threaten the health and safety of communities throughout the Pacific Northwest. And our region’s largest employer — the Department of Defense — identifies climate change as a “threat multiplier” that makes our world less safe.

EPA’s use of science to come under committee’s microscope
Critics say Trump administration proposal will undermine government research

EPA headquarters in Washington. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

A House committee may take aim Wednesday at the EPA’s plan to censor the science it uses in its policies by forcing the disclosure of private medical and health records, a step science advocacy groups say would undermine government research.

Members of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee are expected to broach the proposal at the hearing and will likely question Jennifer Orme-Zavaleta, a medical doctor and EPA science adviser, over the proposed rule and how the agency uses science broadly.

Report: Extreme heat a grave threat for military bases
At least 17 people have died of heat exposure while training at bases since 2008

A report, coupled with statistics from the Pentagon, notes significant physical dangers climate change poses to the U.S. military (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Days when the temperature breaks 100 degrees Fahrenheit at U.S. military bases will happen by 2050 nearly five times as often as they do now without action to address climate change, the Union of Concerned Scientists said in a report released Monday.

All told, it will amount to roughly another month of dangerous heat every year, according to the nonprofit group. Unsurprisingly, troops at bases in the Southwest and the South will suffer more than peers elsewhere, including the Marine Corps Air Station in Yuma, Ariz. and the MacDill and Homestead bases in Florida, which are forecast to be the three facilities that see the greatest increases.

Interior nears a contract with a company its secretary used to lobby for
Conservation groups fear water deal will be a hazard for protected salmon and other aquatic life

Interior Secretary David Bernhardt testifies in May 2019. The department he leads is close to completing a contract for a water district he represented as a lobbyist. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Interior Department is close to completing a permanent water supply contract for a water district once represented by Interior Secretary David Bernhardt as a lobbyist, despite concerns that doing so would imperil aquatic species including endangered salmon. 

Conservation groups say the deal between the Interior Department and the Westlands Water District, which serves and is run by farmers in California’s Central Valley, promises to permanently divert more federally managed water to the district just as climate change threatens to make the state hotter and more prone to extreme drought.

EPA proposes eased regulations on coal-ash pollution
Changes would save industry $175 million in compliance costs for Obama-era rule triggered by catastrophic spills.

A coal ash pond at Buck Steam Station in Salisbury, N.C. (Courtesy Les Stone/Greenpeace)

The EPA on Monday proposed to make it easier for power companies to dispose of the toxic residues from burning coal, building on other steps the agency has already taken to rewrite Obama-era rules for coal ash pollution.

The EPA’s actions would unwind some of the requirements for treating toxic wastewater and ash that coal power plants discharge that were set in that 2015 rule, which implemented the first federal limits on the levels of toxic metals that can be discharged in wastewater from power plants, and required companies to use updated technology to prevent such pollution.

Coal-burning utility boosts lobbying, may get eased regulations
New rules proposed by Trump administration would eliminate some Obama-era environmental protections for coal ash

A coal ash pile in Guayama, Puerto Rico. The pile’s owner, Arlington-based AES Corp., has asked the Trump administration to relax regulations for the disposal of toxic residues from burning coal.  (Courtesy Mabette Colon)

On Oct. 2, 19-year-old Mabette Colon traveled from her hometown in Puerto Rico to Arlington, Virginia, to try to persuade the EPA to abandon its efforts to ease regulations for the disposal of toxic residues from burning coal.

Colon said she grew up less than a mile from what activists describe as a nine-story-tall pile of coal ash owned by Arlington-based AES Corp. in the town of Guayama. She worries that under the Trump administration revisions proposed Monday, which have not yet been publicly released, the company could pollute with impunity and further expose her community to the toxic pollutants that have sickened her neighbors.

Trump has no China trade pact, but he does have a signing location in mind
2020 battleground state of Iowa is president’s preferred spot

Sen. Charles E. Grassley of Iowa has raised concerns about a possible trade pact with China. President Donald Trump might sign it with Xi Jinping in his home state. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump gave no indication Friday he and Chinese leader Xi Jinping are closer to signing a “Phase One” trade pact, but he does have a place in mind where a signing event for it could happen — a battleground state that has borne the brunt of the U.S.-China trade war.

“It could even be in Iowa,” he told reporters on the White House South Lawn as he departed for a campaign rally in Mississippi. “I would do it in the U.S. He would too,” he added, speaking for Xi.

Looking to 2020, Republican Study Committee eyes alternatives on climate and health care
Chairman Mike Johnson says proposals lay markers in election cycle

RSC Chairman Mike Johnson says Republicans have eyes on 2020 when they propose legislation that Democrats won’t consider. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Mike Johnson knows that a Republican health care proposal and conservative policy responses to the Green New Deal won’t come to the floor under Speaker Nancy Pelosi, but the head of the largest conservative caucus in the House says GOP alternatives to Democratic blockbusters are necessary heading into 2020. 

“We’re ready to legislate if we have that moment, and if we don’t have it now since Pelosi and the Democrats are in charge, we’re going to put our ideas on the table of what we’ll do when we [regain] the majority and I think we’ll do that in the next election cycle,” Johnson said in an interview for C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers” program

House Dems mourn bills buried in McConnell's ‘legislative graveyard’
Halloween-timed display tweaks Senate leader for boasts of killing House bills

House Democratic Caucus gets in the Halloween spirit. (Clyde McGrady/CQ Roll Call)

House Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries is stepping up his office’s Halloween decorations while expressing his frustration with a stalled agenda he blames on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Throughout the week, the chairman’s office has been displaying a “legislative graveyard,” featuring decorative tombstones inscribed with bills that have passed the House, but have yet to move in the Republican-controlled Senate.