U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor will lead Congress’ Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, Speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi announced Friday.
Pelosi is reviving the committee after it was defunct for about eight years. In her role, Castor will oversee research into mitigation strategies to combat climate change. Conservatives in Congress killed the committee after regaining control of the House in the 2010 midterms.
“I am humbled by Speaker-designate Pelosi’s confidence in me to lead the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis. She is correct to reinstitute the Select Committee and urge action to address this dire crisis that impacts my neighbors in Florida, all Americans and future generations,” Castor said in a statement.
Florida is ground zero for some of the worst predicted effects of climate change with parts of the state, including the Tampa Bay area, at risk of massive flooding as seas continue to rise. Castor has made combating climate change and environmental policy one of the pillars of her tenure in office.
“We must act with urgency to reduce carbon pollution, and we can do so by unleashing American ingenuity and creating clean energy jobs to power our future. We cannot delay. 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. “The Select Committee on the Climate Crisis and the new generation of leaders in Congress — who understand the scientific imperative — will tackle the crisis head-on. Failure is not an option.”
POLITICO reported earlier this month that Castor was under consideration for the leadership post. While some celebrated the news of Pelosi’s goal to resurrect the committee, others worried it would cause duplicative efforts.
But Castor is in a good position to lead ramped up efforts to tackle climate change. She currently serves as a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which drives some environmental policy.
Castor also has a key Florida ally in the House in Congressman Charlie Crist. Earlier this year, the two met with several groups of scientists, researchers, business leaders, and other stakeholders to discuss the massive red tide outbreak that for months had plagued the Gulf Coast, including Pinellas County.
During those discussions scientists warned continued inaction on environmental policy inaction could lead to devastating effects for Florida’s lakes, rivers and streams as well as to the Gulf of Mexico.
Business owners lamented that jobs could be lost if pollution continued to pollute waterways used for commercial fishing and recreation that drives an enormous economic impact in the state.