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Columbia Energy Exchange

Navigating Climate Change in Congress

Climate change is gaining attention fast in Congress as the Green New Deal makes waves. It’s a top priority for Democrats, although they may differ over the exact approach for curbing carbon emissions. And even among Republicans there seems to be more talk about backing cleaner forms of energy.

In this edition of the Columbia Energy Exchange, host Bill Loveless sits down with Representative Paul Tonko, the chairman of the House Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change, the place where legislation on climate change begins.

In fact, the New York Democrat is well on his way to crafting bills. He’s unveiled a set of principles that will guide his actions and laid out a two-part strategy for legislation, starting with relatively modest measures with potential for widespread support, and then moving on to greater challenges, like putting a price on carbon.

Bill met with Chairman Tonko in his office the other day, amid a flurry of activity over climate change at both ends of Congress. Senate Republicans had just voted to reject the Green New Deal even as a leading Republican announced legislation for a New Manhattan Project for Clean Energy. And in the House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi was spotlighting a measure reaffirming the United States’ commitment to the Paris climate agreement.

Bill asked the chairman what he made of all this and how he intended to navigate his way forward on this controversial issue. They talked about the Green New Deal, his legislative intentions, his look back on past attempts by Congress to deal with climate change, and his very personal insights into the phenomena taking place.

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