House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi appointed Rep. Kathy Castor on Friday to lead a select committee on climate change when Democrats retake the majority in the new year.
Mrs. Pelosi said the Floridian will bring experience and a sense of urgency in developing legislative plans to fight “the existential threat of the climate crisis.”
“This committee will be critical to the entire Congress’s mission to respond to the urgency of this threat, while creating the good-paying, green jobs of the future,” Mrs. Pelosi said. “Congresswoman Castor is a proven champion for public health and green infrastructure, who deeply understands the scope and seriousness of this threat.”
On Twitter, Ms. Castor said she was “humbled by Speaker-designate Pelosi’s confidence in me.”
Addressing climate change is shaping up as a key priority for Democrats, with liberal voices warning party members that they will pay an electoral price among young voters if they don’t get behind a concrete plan to tackle it.
Faced with post-election protests outside her office, Mrs. Pelosi pledged to bring back the select committee that operated from 2007 to 2011, when the Republican majority disbanded it.
Mrs. Pelosi says the panel will focus partly on environment-friendly infrastructure projects and promoting “good-paying, green jobs.”
It’s a nod to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other vocal Democrats who have been pushing for a “Green New Deal” with specific mandates, such as shifting 100 percent of U.S. power onto renewable sources within a decade.
Incoming Democratic chairmen of standing committees with oversight of climate issues say they agree with the Green New Deal on principle, but they also worry about the logistical and political feasibility of meeting near-term targets. They have pledged to take aggressive action within their own panels in the new Congress.
Ms. Castor’s role as chairwoman of the select committee had been whispered about for days, though Mrs. Pelosi’s statement made it official Friday.
The Sunrise Movement, a group that led protests on Capitol Hill, has said it is pleased that Ms. Castor agreed not to accept campaign money from fossil fuel interests.
“We need to make sure all other Democrats do likewise — including money from fossil fuel execs and lobbyists,” the group tweeted on Christmas.
On Friday, it said it is still not sure if the committee itself will act boldly enough.
“We still have not heard from [hashtag]NancyPelosi what the mandate of the ‘Select Committee on the Climate Crisis’ will be,” it tweeted.