The kick-off of the 112th Congress on Wednesday also marked the end of an era in the House—the demise of a committee devoted solely to climate change and energy issues. The Select Committee for Energy Independence and Global Warming, created by Nancy Pelosi in 2006, has been shuttered under the new Republican leadership. In the final days of the committee, staffers released a report on what the committee accomplished in its brief tenure—an epitaph of sorts.
Tackling issues from the politicization of climate science to the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon, the committee held 80 hearings and briefings. It played a role in shaping policy for the 2007 energy bill, the 2009 stimulus package (which included $90 billion in energy, efficiency, and other green elements), and, of course, the 2009 climate bill (the one that never became law, of course, because the Senate didn’t act on it).
The final report concludes with the question of whether the United States will respond to all the information that the committee has compiled during its lifespan on the climate and energy challenge:
Someday, our children and grandchildren will look back on the record of the Select Committee. That record will reflect a respectful and rigorous debate and an unprecedented understanding of the challenges before us. Whether or not they will see that this generation has taken the bold action required by these challenges remains to be seen.
Select Committee Chair Ed Markey (D-Mass.) will now serve as the ranking member of the natural resources committee, so I’m sure we will be hearing more on the subject from him in the next two years.
There had been some talk among Republicans of keeping the committee alive so it could be used to mock climate change and harass scientists, but leadership put the kibosh on that idea. It went out on a high note, and on its own terms, so I suppose we can take some small comfort in that.