Federal Agencies Stiff Congress on Climate Change Spending Information

By Conger, Michal | Examiner (Washington, D.C.), The, November 7, 2013 | Go to article overview

Federal Agencies Stiff Congress on Climate Change Spending Information


Conger, Michal, Examiner (Washington, D.C.), The


Fourteen federal agencies have spent at least $70 billion on climate change-related activities since 2005, but most refuse to tell Congress and taxpayers how the money is being spent.

The actual amount may be much higher, according to the Congressional Research Service, because the data it obtained "likely represent[s] an underestimate of federal funding for the period, perhaps on the order of tens of millions of dollars."

President Obama's "climate change action plan" instructs federal agencies to reduce their climate change-related emissions, but the spending involved began under President George W. Bush.

The agencies were asked in August by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce to provide witnesses to discuss their climate change spending at a Sept. 18 hearing. All but two of the agencies declined, claiming scheduling conflicts.

The committee requested information on climate research; climate- related regulations proposed, issued or in process; climate-related grant programs agencies participated in; cooperation between agencies; and spending on these activities.

When the committee sent a follow-up letter Sept. 4 extending the request to any available staff member, the agencies still declined.

The committee's third request was an Oct. 24 letter containing a Nov. 22 deadline, but a committee spokesman said no answers have been received.

"The president is further expanding the federal government's climate change activities, yet the administration has not been willing to answer straightforward questions and account for the federal climate programs that are already underway," Rep. Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., chairman of the panel's subcommittee on energy and power, told the Washington Examiner.

Whitfield isn't the only committee member frustrated by the agencies non-responsiveness.

"Are you trying to hide something? Are you embarrassed by it? Or you just don't care to respond to the Congress?" Rep. Joe Barton, R- Texas, asked at the Sept. 18 hearing.

"We're trying to have a good-faith effort here to have a real dialogue, but in order to have the dialogue, we have to have the facts, and we're being stonewalled. …

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