Democratic Leadership is Already Hobbling AOC's Climate Change Committee

Illustration for article titled Democratic Leadership is Already Hobbling AOCs Climate Change Committee
Photo: Susan Walsh (AP)

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s proposed Green New Deal Committee is an ambitious, openly-progressive push to make the United States grow past the constraints and disastrous consequences of dated, pollutant-heavy energy sources like coal and fossil fuel. So, very unsurprisingly, leadership in the House of Representatives is already hobbling it.


Incoming majority leader Rep. Steny Hoyer told reporters on Wednesday that a new climate change committee will be a “recommendatory committee,” and won’t have subpoena power, a vital Congressional ability that progressive leaders could use to force major fossil fuel industry players to provide documents or testify in hearings.

“My expectation [is] it will not have subpoena power. It will be a recommendatory committee to the Energy and Commerce Committee and the environmental committees,” Hoyer said.


Hoyer went on to then say some bullshit about a climate change committee not needing subpoena power, because the climate change experts would be “dying to come before them.” “I think they’re [scientists] going to want to testify; I think they’ll want to give the best information as it relates to the crisis,” Hoyer said.

My guy... yes... people are not worried about getting the scientific experts to talk. But they would also like to talk to the people who do not want to talk.

Corbin Trent, a spokesman for Ocasio-Cortez, chimed in pretty quickly there to tell the Hill, which first reported on the change, that yeah, they wanted the damn subpoena power. “We’ve been pretty clear about what we want the committee to have, and subpoena power is one of those things,” Trent told the Hill. AOC chimed in on Twitter as well:


The fucked up thing is that according to the Hill, the preceding House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming did have subpoena power.

That panel, which existed from 2007 to 2011 and was chaired by then-Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), had the power to issue subpoenas. It used that power at least once, in 2008, when it voted to compel the Environmental Protection Agency under former President George W. Bush to disclose its progress on formulating climate change rules for automobiles.


AOC’s political allies are, to put it mildly, pissed about this. Leaders from Justice Democrats and the Sunrise Movement, a climate change advocacy group that has led protests on Capitol Hill, put out a joint statement absolutely savaging Hoyer and the Democratic leadership.

From the statement (in full here):

“The Democratic Party establishment never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity. They have failed to propose solutions that match the scale of the climate crisis and they have failed to fully hold fossil fuel billionaires accountable. Instead of seizing the opportunity right in front of them, they have decided to violate the norms of most select committees by stripping away its power to bring the barons of the industry to account,” said Waleed Shahid, spokesperson at Justice Democrats.


As the Washington Post (and the Sunrise/ Justice Dems statement) noted, a Yale Commission on Climate Change Communication study found that 81 percent of registered voters liked what they heard when a pollster described the Green New Deal to them (basically switching to clean energy in 10 years.) That, in short, is scaring the shit out of fossil fuel flaks, reducing them to saying stuff like this (from the Post’s reporting):

“The Green New Deal isn’t anything yet. It doesn’t have any guts. It doesn’t have any inside. It doesn’t have any real specifics other than broad platitudes,” said Frank Maisano, an energy industry specialist at the law and lobby firm Bracewell.


One of Bracewell’s clients is Valero Energy, lol. This quote wasn’t connected to the possibility of subpoena power, but we’re pretty dang sure this dude really doesn’t want his clients to see the inside of a Congressional hearing room any time soon.

Contributing Writer, Splinter

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