New climate change hearings called by ... Republicans?

Coming in September to a congressional chamber near you, (assuming you’re in DC) another round of hearings on climate change. But this one has a twist.

House Republicans have summoned the leaders of 13 federal agencies to a hearing next month to examine their plans to implement a sweeping climate change agenda that President Obama outlined in a June speech.

Organized by the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power, the Sept. 18 hearing seeks information “from relevant federal agencies about U.S. climate change policies and the administration’s second-term climate agenda, and to obtain fuller information regarding the federal government’s past, current and planned domestic and international activities, climate research programs, initiatives, and new regulatory requirements,” said subcommittee Chairman Edward Whitfield (R-Ky.).

The laundry list of agencies summoned by Whitfield to testify is available at the link and it’s pretty much everyone in the upper levels of government outside of the military. The LA Times chooses to describe this as a final chance, “to wrest a measure of control over the administration’s climate change agenda” but I’m not sure that’s an accurate analysis. There’s no need to take control of the President’s climate agenda because it can’t be done, absent having a new president. But this could still be an important opportunity to expand the conversation, which has been almost entirely one sided to date.

Since the president came out with his call for “market-based legislation to reduce emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases” the committee has an opportunity to put an official spotlight on the first phrase in that requirement. The fact is, “market-based” and “reduce emissions” don’t generally collide in the same sentence, and this could be a chance to get all of the government experts to weigh in on exactly what the costs are, not only in direct federal dollars, but in jobs lost and increased prices at the pump and in taxpayers’ heating and utility bills. I get the feeling that Whitfield is playing a longer game here than some are giving him credit for.