Dec 2, 2022 - Energy & Environment

GOP plans climate probes the left might like

Illustration of an elephant toeing a blue line

Illustration: Natalie Peeples/Axios

House Republicans are planning an onslaught of investigations into Biden climate policies that could have an unintended consequence: asking questions progressives want answered.

Why it matters: The probes could set the table for conversations between Republicans and Democrats in the new Congress about the thorny aspects of transitioning away from fossil fuels, including human rights.

What they’re saying: Some Republicans say they hope the oversight plans create an opening for bipartisan conversations about cleaning up the dirtier aspects of “clean” energy.

  • “Do I think that coming out of the gates, you’re going to have conservatives holding hands and saying, 'Yeah, let’s do this’? No,” said Rep. Garret Graves (R-La.). “[But] I think you will see folks that come to the table willing to talk about these issues.”

Driving the news: Republicans have sent scores of letters to Biden administration officials signaling that next year will see probes into how President Biden handles the many risks and trade-offs with his approach on climate.

The big picture: The transition from burning fossil fuels to avert a climate catastrophe will have myriad consequences for American ways of life, from higher prices and “greenflation” to a new mining boom.

  • The GOP’s preferred solutions — like an emphasis on burning “natural” gas —remain out of step with what scientists say we need to address global warming.

Yes, but: Brett Hartl, government affairs director for the nonprofit Center for Biological Diversity, says this oversight work is needed because Democrats aren't spending more time on whether Biden's climate strategy is actually saving the planet.

  • At the same time, he's suspicious of the GOP oversight because "much of their core ideology is based on dismantling federal agencies" like the EPA.
  • “It is the classic stopped clock right twice a day type of thing,” Hartl said. “I think it’s an unfortunate reality that there’s not enough oversight coming from the Democratic side.”

The bottom line: Republicans are about to help progressives get more information about climate policy issues where they're frustrated with the Biden administration.

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