House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi on Friday appointed Florida Rep. Kathy Castor to lead a special committee on climate change that will be reinstated in the new Congress.
Pelosi, the likely House speaker, said Castor brings experience, energy and "urgency to the existential threat of the climate crisis" facing the United States and the world. Castor is set to begin her seventh term representing the Tampa Bay area and serves on the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
"Congresswoman Castor is a proven champion for public health and green infrastructure, who deeply understands the scope and seriousness of this threat. Her decades of experience in this fight, both in Florida and in the Congress, will be vital," Pelosi said.
Castor said in a statement that she was honored to lead the panel and pledged to "act with urgency to reduce carbon pollution" and "unleash" American ingenuity to create clean-energy jobs.
"The costs of the changing climate and extreme weather events pose greater risks every day to American families, businesses and our way of life," Castor said. She added that the new panel "will tackle the crisis head on. Failure is not an option."
The climate panel is similar to one that Pelosi created when Democrats last controlled the House from 2007 to 2011. It was eliminated by then-Speaker John Boehner when Republicans took the majority.
The membership and exact scope of the panel remain to be determined, but Pelosi said it will play a key role in shaping how Congress responds to the threat of global warming while creating good-paying, "green" jobs.
Maryland Rep. Steny Hoyer, the incoming House majority leader, said last week the climate committee likely would not have legal authority to demand documents under subpoena. But he added that he doesn't think the panel will need subpoena authority, since experts will be "dying to come before them."
Climate scientists and other experts "are going to want to testify," Hoyer said. "I think they'll want to give the best information as it relates to the crisis."
Democratic Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and other progressives have pushed for a "green new deal" that includes thousands of jobs in renewable energy such as wind and solar power. She and other leaders say the climate panel is a key platform to advance the green agenda.