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Policy: Environment & Energy

Feds refuse to tell House committee about their global warming spending

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Congress,Watchdog,Michal Conger,Climate Change,Export-Import Bank,United Nations,State Department,Follow the Money,Energy and Environment,Poland

Eleven federal agencies that declined to testify at a Sept. 18 hearing on their global warming spending also missed a Nov. 22 deadline to provide a congressional panel with written information about the issue.

The House Committee on Energy and Commerce asked officials at 14 agencies to testify at the hearing.

When the agencies said none of their top officials were available, the committee extended its invitation to any available staff member.

Still, all but the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency refused to provide a witness, citing scheduling conflicts.

The other agencies invited were the departments of Health and Human Services, Agriculture, Interior and State, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Export-Import Bank, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and NASA.

Together those agencies have spent at least $70 billion on global warming activities since 2005, according to the Congressional Research Service.

The committee sent an Oct. 24 letter asking the agencies to answer its questions in writing, as an alternative to sending someone to testify.

The committee requested information on global warming-related 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.

The deadline for that response passed Nov. 22. Only the Export-Import Bank responded, and several agencies said they were working on responses, according to a committee spokeswoman.

Several of the departments and agencies that didn't have time to testify before Congress, however, somehow were able to showcase their global warming activities at the United Nations conference on the issue in Warsaw, Poland, from Nov. 11-23.

Among the participants were officials from NASA, the Department of Agriculture, NOAA, the Department of Energy, the Department of State, the White House Council on Environmental Quality, the U.S. Global Change Research Program, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

Sponsored events highlighted global warming activities in the departments and agencies, including NASA's satellite monitoring of temperatures and other environmental factors in the oceans and atmosphere.

An event sponsored by the State Department described reducing emissions caused by deforestation. A USAID-sponsored event described investments in green energy in Africa.

Rep. Ed Whitfield, a Kentucky Republican who is chairman of the committee's energy and power subcommittee, said the information being sought "is necessary for Congress and the public to appropriately evaluate the administration’s regulatory actions and spending of taxpayer dollars.

"Sadly, transparency no longer seems to be a priority for this administration, but we will continue working diligently until all of our requests have been satisfied."

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