Meet the Newest Republicans on the House Energy Committee

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By Rachel Leven

At least one of the four Republicans joining the House Energy and Commerce Committee this session believes that climate change is real and needs to be addressed.

Congressman Ryan Costello (R-Pa.), who is also a member of the Bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus, was one of 11 House Republicans to introduce a resolution in September 2015 to promote “economically viable, and broadly supported private and public solutions to study and address” the impacts of climate change.

“We can’t just stick our heads in the sand and say there is no problem,” Costello told the Reading Eagle in Pennsylvania the same month the resolution was introduced.

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) announced Jan. 4 that Costello and fellow Republicans Tim Walberg (Mich.), Buddy Carter (Ga.) and Mimi Walters (Calif.) would join the committee. Walberg has been a member of the House since 2007; the other three joined Congress in 2015.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced late Jan. 5 new Democratic members joining the committee: Rep. Raul Ruiz (Calif.), Rep. Debbie Dingell (Mich.) and Rep. Scott Peters (Calif.).

Environment, Energy Records

Despite Costello’s work and votes on climate and certain other issues like clean energy funding, his overall environmental record from his first session in Congress earned him a score of only 14 percent on the League of Conservation Voters lifetime scorecard.

That was due to his votes, such as one to pass a 2015 resolution permanently blocking the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan, the first-ever carbon dioxide emission standards for existing power plants. However, he did vote against a resolution that would block the agency’s carbon standards for new and modified power plants.

The other three new members voted against both of those resolutions and had lower lifetime scores than Costello on the conservation voters scorecard.

All four members are largely in lock step on other fossil fuel-based energy issues. For example, they supported the Keystone XL pipeline at the beginning of the 114th Congress and supported lifting the ban on crude oil exports.

Walberg has touted on his website support for use of market-based tools “that encourage alternative energy sources” such as wind and solar, and supports use of nuclear energy. He also has opposed the use of a carbon tax as recently as 2016.

Priorities in Committee

Walters, who has advocated for solutions such as construction of authorized water storage projects to help address California’s drought, told Bloomberg BNA in an e-mailed statement that she will “work to advance an all-of-the-above energy program, make our country energy independent, and keep energy affordable for American families and businesses.”

Carter told Bloomberg BNA he would examine what specific energy and environment areas would be priorities “as we get more into it.” He said that as a congressman representing the Georgia coast, he understands the importance of “balance” between protecting the environment and allowing development.

“The environment is extremely important and we’re going to make sure that we do everything we can to protect the environment,” Carter said. On his website, Carter touts that his state is home to a recently permitted liquefied natural gas export facility and EPA Superfund sites.

To contact the reporter on this story: Rachel Leven in Washington, D.C., at rleven@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Pearl at lpearl@bna.com

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