For the first time in quite a while a chamber of Congress is controlled by Democrats, and to celebrate it they’re throwing a climate change-themed House party with three climate hearings today, and another tomorrow.
At 10am this morning, the Appropriations Interior and Environment subcommittee is scheduled to take a look at agency spending during the shutdown, while at the same time the Energy and Commerce committee will hold a hearing on the environmental and economic effects of climate change. As far as we can find, the witness lists for both meetings only include those testifying for the majority--we don’t know who the Republicans invited. But if the minority witnesses we know about are any indication, we can expect to hear from people who either directly or indirectly work on behalf of the fossil fuel industry.
In the “fossil fuels pretty much sign my paycheck” camp, Judith Curry and Derrick Hollie are scheduled witnesses for today’s full Natural Resource committee hearing on climate impacts and the need to act.
Dr. Curry retired from her position at Georgia Tech in 2017, but still runs her weather prediction company that she’s admitted gets money from the fossil fuel industry. Curry routinely denies the consensus, promotes conspiracy theories, teams up with Koch groups, and is no stranger to offering denial up on the Hill. In 2017, she all but Don’d a MAGA hat to suggest we “make scientific debate about climate change great again” in testimony that climate scientists deemed “incorrect,” “misleading,” “not a valid description of the state of knowledge” and “at odds with just about every detection and attribution study, every climate model, and basic physical principles of the global energy budget.”
Derrick Hollie will join Curry at today’s hearing, also representing how beholden Republicans’ views on climate are to the fossil fuel industry. Hollie runs “Reaching America,” a 501c4 aimed at convincing minority communities that the fossil fuels which are making them sick are actually good for them. He spoke at the fossil-fuel and industry-funded Heartland Institute’s energy conference last year, describing the energy poverty messaging deployed in the two different ads they produced. (The premise of “energy poverty,” that fossil fuels are the best energy for disadvantaged communities is, of course, a fossil fuel created marketing term.)
If you’re still hungry for hearings come Thursday, the Oceans subcommittee of House Natural Resources will hold a hearing on “Healthy Oceans and Healthy Economies.”
For this one, the Ocean Conservancy sent out an advisory yesterday noting that the majority invited a panel of five highly qualified women to testify on how climate change is already changing our oceans, while the minority invited two men, Drs. Kevin Dayaratna and David Legates. Now while these two aren’t quite as directly paid by fossil fuels as Curry and Hollie, that certainly doesn’t mean they’re credible. Dayaratna works at the Koch-funded Heritage Foundation, where his general schtick is to torture models until they can be used by the President to misleadingly attack the Paris agreement.
Legates’ long history of working with denial groups and his own outspoken views precipitated the request that he step down as the State Climatologist of Delaware in 2011, and then his credibility took a major hit because he co-authored several (debunked) studies with Willie Soon, whose undisclosed fossil fuel funding was revealed by the New York Times in 2015.
His work with Soon begs the question of whether Legates knew his co-author was reporting these studies as “deliverables” to his fossil fuel funders. If he did, then obviously he’s corrupt. If he didn’t, then it’s maybe even sadder, because it means he doesn’t even have to be paid to put his name on shoddy work that serves the fossil fuel industry- he’ll sell out for free!
We don’t expect any members to ask Legates this tantalizing question, but we can’t help but wonder what he thinks: is it better to be a paid idiot, or just a useful one?
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