Wyoming Lawmakers Plan To Fight Upcoming Climate Change Push

Nov 16, 2018

Democrats preparing to take over control of the U.S. House of Representatives in January are gunning for major battles on climate change and energy issues, which could hurt the economic gains witnessed in Wyoming this Trump-energy-era.

Liz Cheney, the state's lone member of the House, is now following her father's footsteps up the leadership ladder in the House. With the former vice president in the room, this week she was unanimously elected to the number three leadership spot in the House leadership team. That makes her the person charged with crafting the party's talking points. And as an advocate for all things fossil fuels, Cheney is ready to spur her party to spread that message far and wide.

"We need to get on offense and especially because we're in the minority now, we've got to be in a position where we're making sure that we're out there everyday fighting, and I think we've got to be sure we're winning the news cycle. We need to make sure we have a more aggressive approach, especially because we're in the minority."

But Cheney and House Republicans have been relegated to the minority in the House, which means they're basically powerless. And many of the fresh rising stars in the Democratic Party are going out of their way to pressure even their own party leaders to put up a huge fight when it comes to their goal of combatting climate change. Here's Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York who says she's willing to vote against Nancy Pelosi for Speaker unless she vows to make climate change a top agenda item in January.

"For me, this is not about supporting or not supporting an individual, it's about making sure that we can get as progressive and aggressive of legislation as a party on climate change as quickly as possible."

While Democrats are itching for a fight over climate change, Republicans still control the upper chamber and they're vowing to hold fast on pushing President Trump's energy agenda. And Wyoming senator Mike Enzi said Democrats are powerless unless they get Senate Republicans on board.

"The House can't roll it back without the Senate's approval."

That doesn't mean Democrats won't try with everything they've got. Kathy Castor of Florida is on the House Energy Committee and like many Democrats, she's itching for some revenge after her party was completely locked out of power for the past two years.

"I think it's very important that we elevate climate change in the next Congress - the Republicans completely stymied us."

Castor speaks for many in her party when she says they're going to make climate change a part of their legacy.

"It's got to be elevated. We've got to de-carbonize the atmosphere. We've got to do more on renewables. We've got to address these extreme weather events." The people back home are crying out for action."

But Wyoming's junior senator John Barrasso is still set on trying to steer the president's pro-energy policy through the Capitol.

"My focus is on unleashing American energy. It's called the Master Resource for a reason. It powers our country. It powers our military. I want to make sure we use all the resources of energy that we have."

Even with the two chambers divided come January, Barrasso sees a point of bipartisan compromise on climate change with attempts to capture and store carbon from coal plants. He said he favors more efforts like the Integrated test center in Gillette which will use carbon capture and sequestration.

"An effort to find a profitable use for the carbon - if you can turn this carbon, through research and innovation and invention, into something you can actually sell, then the demand for that carbon and the reason to capture it goes way up, so we have bipartisan legislation to do that."

Democrats are vowing to make combatting climate change a part of their legacy now that they've recaptured the House from Republicans. This battle is sure to become a brawl or a stalemate at some point in the New Year, which means the issue is likely to also play a big role in the 20-20 race for the White House.