“The Mother of All Climate Weeks”

Today Congress is launching what Politico calls “the mother of all climate weeks“:

Fifty-four witnesses will testify on climate change legislation in three full days before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, topped off with an appearance from Al Gore on Friday. The committee will also hear from EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and high-profile representatives from business and the environmental movement.

The hearings are timed to coincide with Earth Day on Wednesday.

Three weeks ago, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Energy and Environment Subcommittee Chairman Ed Markey (D-Mass.) introduced the outlines of a bill establishing a cap-and-trade system. They plan to move the bill through committee and to the full House by the Memorial Day recess.

The House Science and Technology Committee will also hold a hearing on Wednesday on monitoring and measuring greenhouse gas emissions.

Over in the Senate, State Department climate change envoy Todd Stern is headlining a hearing at the Foreign Relations Committee on new global climate change agreements. Stern just returned from two weeks at the international climate change negotiations in Bonn, Germany.

The House Energy & Commerce Committee will kick things off this afternoon with opening statements.

One major question leading up to the hearings — will Republican committee members offer real policy critiques or continue to try to muck up the gears?

“[A]t hearings designed to discuss the particulars of climate policy, Republican representatives and their witnesses have been bogging down the proceedings with skeptical rants and cockamamy theories,” writes Grist’s Kate Sheppard. “If you want to know how seriously Republicans are taking the process, keep an eye on these hearings.”

So far their record isn’t good. Rep. Barton and Rep. Shimkus have earned plenty of unwanted attention for their shaky grasp (to put it kindly) of climate science.

We’ll keep you updated on this week’s hearings!

Published: April 21, 2009