Haaland Works to Address Climate Change As Chair of National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands Subcommittee

February 13, 2019
Press Release
Natural Resources’ Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests & Public Lands examines impacts of climate change on public lands and considers adaptation opportunities

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Deb Haaland (NM-01) chaired her first National Parks, Forests and Public Lands Subcommittee Hearing. The committee examined the impacts of climate change on Public Lands and methods that can be used to mitigate those effects. The subcommittee heard testimonies from UC Berkeley Adjunct Professor Dr. Patrick Gonzalez, EcoAdapt Board President Dr. Lara Hansen, Patagonia Director of Environmental Campaigns and Advocacy Mr. Hans Cole, and O’Neil Forest Research and Management’s Elaine Oneil.

“If this administration is not going to take the lead on climate change, this committee will,” said Congresswoman Deb Haaland. “We rely on the natural world to provide us with many of the things we depend on each day, from clean water and clean air to flood control -- it’s irresponsible to ignore climate change. Furthermore, we have the opportunity to completely overhaul our economy with renewable energy jobs.”

VIDEO: Haaland Chairs First National Resources Subcommittee Hearing on Climate Change Impact and Adaptation

Last week, Congresswoman Haaland introduced her first bill, H.R. 1050, The ANTIQUITIES Act of 2019, with the goal of fighting climate change by protecting land from extraction, honoring our sacred sites, and ensuring public lands are here for future generations.  The Congresswoman continues to advocate for the preservation of New Mexico’s public lands and way of life. She is also co-leading a bill to protect Bears Ears National Monument.

One of Congresswoman Haaland’s top priorities is tackling climate change and building a strong renewable energy economy in New Mexico and around the country. With more than 300 days of sunlight each year, New Mexico is poised to be a leader in solar energy production, which has a ripple effect into solar production and energy transmission jobs. In addition, the plains east of the Sandia Mountains in New Mexico’s First Congressional District are ripe for wind energy production and industry.

Haaland’s full opening statement for her first subcommittee hearing as chair is below:

Today is an exciting day. It will be the first of a new era for this Committee and for this Congress. An era of inclusion, where the diverse voices of the American people are clearly heard in these halls.

We will hold up our public lands as a point of pride that all Americans share in and co-own.

These special places will serve as a refuge for our highest values and as places of growth towards our nation’s future.

I want to start this hearing, the first of the 116th Congress for the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands, by thanking my fellow Members for joining me in this important work.

I am grateful for the confidence you have expressed in selecting me to Chair this Subcommittee.

It is my sincere hope that we will find common ground on important issues, and I promise you that we will lead this Congress, the most diverse in history, towards bold policy solutions that benefit our federal public lands and our communities.

We begin that leadership today as we confront the most pressing issue facing our nation—climate change.

We will hear testimony from a leading scientist about the disproportionate impact climate change is already having on our public lands.

Our national parks are warming twice as fast as the rest of the country.

Parks in the Southwest, my home, and the home of many of my fellow members here on the dais are experiencing unprecedented aridity.

That means less water for our ecosystems—which in turn means less water for our homes and our farmers because we live in a deeply interconnected world where changes to one system impact all others.

We rely on the natural world to provide us with many of the things we depend on each day, from clean water and clean air to flood control and coastal protection.

At a time when these natural services are under threat from global climate change, Americans will require strong leadership to ensure that we are ready to adapt to these changes and to meet these challenges.

Unfortunately, the Trump administration has failed to provide this leadership.

They see fit to pursue energy dominance at all costs; to push an extractive and destructive agenda that has left our public lands responsible for nearly one-quarter of all U.S. CO2 emissions.

At the same time, the administration has suppressed science and prevented adaptation.

They canceled Executive Orders outlining adaptation strategies on public lands and even pulled back guidance on climate change and national security.

They ignore the science of climate change, relying on outdated and inadequate mandates, and put Americans in harm’s way.

If this administration will not take the lead, this Committee will.

Dr. Gonzalez will help us understand the threat we face by explaining the impact climate change will have on our public lands.

We will then hear from a top climate change adaptation scientist, Dr. Lara Hansen, because we can no longer afford to stand on the sidelines and do nothing.

It is time for America to act on climate change, and our public lands are one of the best resources for us to do so.

Public lands protect biodiversity and the ecosystems on which our daily lives depend.

They provide space for the natural world to adapt to the new climate we have created.

And they form the backbone of a nearly-trillion-dollar outdoor recreation economy that can help us create good, clean jobs.

Climate change is an unprecedented challenge that will require big and bold solutions.

Today, we take the first step towards meaningful action by hearing the risks we face and by considering how we can prepare our communities, our country, and our public lands for the challenges climate change presents.

Thank you all for joining me here today.

I look forward to our leadership on these issues.

Thank you again to the witnesses. I look forward to your testimony.