McKinley Would Bar Energy Department from Considering Climate
13 July 2014
By David Gutman, Staff writer
The U.S. Department of Energy and the Army Corps of Engineers
could not carry out policies related to climate change and climate
science under an amendment proposed by Rep. David McKinley,
R-W.Va., and passed Thursday night by the U.S. House of
McKinley’s amendment, which passed with almost exclusively
Republican votes, would prohibit the two agencies from using funds
“to design, implement, administer or carry out specified
assessments regarding climate change.”
Those “specified assessments” include the two most comprehensive
reports on climate change, the U.S. government’s National Climate
Assessment, five years in the making, and the United Nations’
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
The amendment would prohibit the agencies from participating in
future versions of those reports and also prohibit them from
acting on any of the recommendations contained in those reports.
The amendment was added to a $34 billion appropriations bill that
would fund the two agencies, as well as parts of the Department of
the Interior and other agencies. It also would apply to $80
million in funding for the Appalachian Regional Commission, which
funds projects to improve job opportunities and infrastructure in
“Spending precious resources to pursue a dubious climate change
agenda compromises our clean-energy research and America’s
infrastructure,” McKinley said on the House floor. “Congress
should not be spending money pursuing ideologically driven
Speaking against the amendment, Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio, said it
disregards the research of the overwhelming majority of climate
“The Republicans, in general, don’t seem to trust the scientists,”
Kaptur said. “This amendment requires the Department of Energy to
assume that carbon pollution isn’t harmful and that climate change
won’t cost a thing. That’s nothing but a fantasy.”
Parts of the missions of the Department of Energy and the Corps of
Engineers would seem to be inextricable from climate change and
climate science. For instance, the bill authorizes $1.7 billion
for the Corps of Engineers to spend on river and harbor
construction, flood- and storm-damage reduction and shore
Meanwhile, the National Climate Assessment reports that the global
sea level has risen by eight inches since 1880 and is projected to
rise another one to four feet by 2100. The global sea level rose
about twice as fast in the years since 1992 as it did in the
previous century, the report said.
The Department of Energy also is heavily involved with efforts to
address climate change.
“We develop new technologies and reduce the costs of renewables,
new nuclear, environmental protection in natural gas production,
carbon capture and sequestration, really across the board,” Energy
Secretary Ernest Moniz said in a May teleconference, describing
his agency’s actions on climate change.
“Addressing the effects of climate change is a top priority of the
Energy Department,” the agency’s website says. “As global
temperature rise, wildfires, drought and high electricity demand
put stress on the nation’s energy infrastructure. And severe
weather — the leading cause of power outages and fuel supply
disruption in the United States — is projected to worsen.”
McKinley and Moniz sparred at a House hearing last fall after the
congressman expressed doubt in widely agreed upon facets of
Despite passing the House, the bill, and McKinley’s amendment, are
very unlikely to become law. The Democratic-controlled Senate has
not yet passed any appropriations bills this year, but it is
almost sure not to take up the House version of the bill. The bill
also faces a veto threat from the White House. This is not
McKinley’s first attempt to prevent federal agencies from
addressing climate change.
In May, a McKinley-sponsored amendment was added to the funding
bill for the Department of Defense that would prevent that agency
from spending money on climate change initiatives.
Reps. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., and Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va.,
voted for both of McKinley’s amendments, limiting the agencies’
ability to address climate change.
A Capito spokeswoman emailed a statement in support of the funding
bill but did not address the amendment limiting agencies’ ability
to address climate change.
Rahall was one of only five Democrats to support the amendment.
Asked why the Department of Energy and the Army Corps of Engineers
should not be able to consider climate change, Rahall emailed a
statement saying that he supported the amendment to help block
actions by the Environmental Protection Agency.
Rahall did not respond when asked what the amendment had to do
with the EPA.
Reach David Gutman at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-5119.