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House climate panel will study drilling ban backed by 2020 Dems

Rep. Kathy CastorKatherine (Kathy) Anne CastorOur resilient ocean can help revitalize our economy The Hill’s Coronavirus Report: Unemployment claims now at 41 million with 2.1 million more added to rolls; Topeka mayor says cities don’t have enough tests for minorities and homeless communities Bright says his warnings on supply shortages were ignored MORE (D-Fla.), chairwoman of the special House committee studying the impacts of climate change, said Friday her panel will examine a proposal by 2020 presidential hopeful Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenWarren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases OVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Joint Chiefs chairman says he regrets participating in Trump photo-op | GOP senators back Joint Chiefs chairman who voiced regret over Trump photo-op | Senate panel approves 0B defense policy bill Trump on collision course with Congress over bases with Confederate names MORE (D-Mass.) to ban new fossil fuel drilling on public lands and waters.

A number of other 2020 Democratic candidates — including Sens. Bernie SandersBernie SandersThe Hill’s 12:30 Report: Milley apologizes for church photo-op Harris grapples with defund the police movement amid veep talk Biden courts younger voters — who have been a weakness MORE (I-Vt.) and Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerRand Paul introduces bill to end no-knock warrants Black lawmakers unveil bill to remove Confederate statues from Capitol Harris grapples with defund the police movement amid veep talk MORE (D-N.J.) and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) — also have endorsed a moratorium on drilling on public lands. 

“We’re going to examine that in the Climate Crisis Committee because what the scientists are telling us now is that we’ve got to cut our carbon pollution dramatically,” Castor said during an appearance on C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers” that is set to air later Friday.

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“If we are going to have a just transition [to clean energy], especially for communities across the country that have a lot of jobs in fossil fuels, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to expand extraction, especially on public lands,” she continued. “It’s an important issue moving forward in the context of how we cut our carbon pollution.”

Several liberal lawmakers have argued that the government should ban oil and fossil fuel drilling if it wants to mitigate the effects of climate change. A recent U.S. Geological Survey report found that the extraction and burning of fossil fuels from federal lands accounted for nearly one-quarter of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions between 2005 and 2014.

With Democrats taking control of the House last fall, the incoming Speaker, Rep. Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiTrump on collision course with Congress over bases with Confederate names Black lawmakers unveil bill to remove Confederate statues from Capitol Pelosi: Georgia primary ‘disgrace’ could preview an election debacle in November MORE (D-Calif.), named Castor, a close ally, to lead a new select committee examining climate change. That panel does not have the authority to write legislation, but it is tasked with offering policy recommendations to the full House Democratic Caucus by next year.

“That gives us time to take a look at [a ban],” Castor said, “but a lot of the committees now are on the front lines of turning back the damage of what the Trump administration is doing to clean air and clean water.”

Castor’s comments came a day after the House passed her bill to block President TrumpDonald John TrumpSenate advances public lands bill in late-night vote Warren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases Esper orders ‘After Action Review’ of National Guard’s role in protests MORE from pulling the U.S. out of the Paris climate agreement. But the legislation is going nowhere in the Senate, where Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSenate advances public lands bill in late-night vote GOP senator to try to reverse requirement that Pentagon remove Confederate names from bases No, ‘blue states’ do not bail out ‘red states’ MORE (R-Ky.) has vowed to be a “Grim Reaper” for what he deemed socialist bills coming out of the House.

That new nickname for McConnell has irked Castor, a seven-term lawmaker from the Tampa area who has called climate change — and related extreme weather events — extremely dangerous for American families and businesses.

“I’m very disappointed that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is calling himself the Grim Reaper,” she said. “He says he is not going to hear any important national security, health legislation, especially climate change.

“What a terrible thing to say, that you’re the Grim Reaper.”

The interview with Castor airs on C-SPAN at 10:15 p.m. EDT Friday and again at 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. EDT on Sunday.

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