Interior Chief: We Have No Global-Warming Litmus Test

Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell testifies before the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs.
National Journal
Ben Geman
Add to Briefcase
Ben Geman
April 3, 2014, 10:53 a.m.

Sen. James Inhofe thinks climate change is a hoax, but that doesn’t mean the Oklahoma Republican would be disqualified from a job at the Obama administration’s Interior Department.

“There is no litmus test [on climate change] for people at the Department of the Interior,” Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said Thursday.

She spoke at a House hearing after coming under fire from Louisiana Republican and climate skeptic John Fleming, who brought up Jewell’s 2013 remark that “I hope there are no climate-change deniers in the Department of Interior.”

“Is that a purity test for someone to work for you in the Department of Interior, which is a very large department? That means that in your opinion everyone should agree with you that there is such thing as man-made climate change?,” Fleming said at a Natural Resources Committee hearing on Interior’s budget.

But Jewell responded “absolutely not,” and added that she “didn’t talk about causes of climate change” in her 2013 remarks. During the exchange Jewell also reminded Fleming of her other comments in her summer 2013 address to Interior employees.

According to Environment and Energy Publishing, Jewell said in the speech that if there are climate deniers at Interior, they should travel to lands the agency manages affected by climate change, such as melting permafrost in Alaska.

Jewell picked up on that theme Thursday.

“In context I said I have been on the lands and waters around the Department of the Interior and it would be very difficult to see the lands that I have seen and deny that climate change is going on,” she said.

“Every place I have gone on public lands, I see droughts, I see wildfires, I see coastal erosion, I see the impact of storms and that is a reality that we are facing in this country,” said Jewell, whose prepared remarks touted Interior’s efforts to improve “resiliency” to climate change.

Fleming used the hearing to reiterate his doubt about human-induced climate change. “There is controversy over that issue and disagreement, even among very excellent scientists,” he said.

However, the scientific consensus is that global warming is occurring and that human activities are driving the changes. An extremely small minority of scientists disagree or call the evidence inconclusive.

What We're Following See More »
Another Woman Accuses Rep. Kihuen of Harassment
7 hours ago

"Once-rising Democratic star Rep. Ruben Kihuen made repeated and unwanted sexual advances toward a female lobbyist while he was a state senator, the woman told The Nevada Independent. The woman, who requested anonymity because of concerns about being identified and the possible consequences in Nevada’s small political world, says that Kihuen touched her thighs or buttocks on three separate occasions without her consent. She also showed the Independent hundreds of suggestive text messages she received from Kihuen."

McCain Returns to Hospital for Treatment
11 hours ago
House, Senate Agree in Principle on Tax Bill
16 hours ago

"House and Senate negotiators have reached a deal on a tax plan" and plan to send the legislation to President Trump before Christmas, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch said Wednesday. "CNBC previously reported that a version of the GOP proposal — as of Tuesday — features a 21 percent corporate tax rate and a top individual rate of 37 percent. It would also allow a mortgage interest deduction on loans up to $750,000."

Rosenstein Denies Any Impropriety by Mueller’s Team
17 hours ago

At a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee today, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said "there's nothing inappropriate about FBI officials on special counsel Robert Mueller's team holding political opinions so long as it doesn't affect their work." Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) said recently disclosed texts among former members of Mueller's team, "which were turned over to the panel Tuesday night by the Justice Department, revealed 'extreme bias.'"

GOP Will Not Wait for Jones for Final Tax Vote
19 hours ago

"Senate Republicans will vote on the tax reform bill next week and will not delay consideration until Senator-elect Doug Jones is seated in the coming weeks. Republicans will stick to their plan to clear tax reform bill before adjourning at the end of next week, according to a Capitol Hill source with knowledge of the plan."


Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.