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Saturday March 28th, 2020 4:32AM

Louisiana Rep. Graves to lead GOP on House climate panel

By The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Louisiana Rep. Garret Graves says he hopes to broaden the focus of a special House committee on climate change as he becomes its leading Republican

Graves, who was named to the panel Thursday, said the current climate debate centers on part of the equation. While protecting the environment is crucial, lawmakers also should also focus on employment opportunities and improving America's competitiveness in the global economy, Graves said.

"Energy production and consumption, mitigation and adaptation, and shared responsibility must be discussed if we're truly going to be 'global' in this important conversation," he said, explaining that he favors an "all-of-the-above" energy strategy.

Graves, 47, in his third term representing the Baton Rouge area, was among six Republicans named Thursday to the climate panel, which is led by Florida Democratic Rep. Kathy Castor.

"At the risk of being self-serving," said Graves, "there's no better place on the planet to begin this conversation than coastal Louisiana."

Other Republicans on the panel are Reps. Morgan Griffith of Virginia, Gary Palmer of Alabama, Buddy Carter of Georgia, Carol Miller of West Virginia and Kelly Armstrong of North Dakota.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy announced the GOP members on Thursday, three weeks after Speaker Nancy Pelosi tapped eight Democrats to join Castor.

While the Democrats' proposed Green New Deal has attracted far more attention, Pelosi says the climate panel will "spearhead" her party's work in the House to respond to climate change.

Castor said Thursday she looks forward to working with Graves and other Republicans to "tackle the climate crisis," adding: "Americans from all backgrounds and walks of life are urging policy makers to act boldly and build a clean energy economy, and avoid the worst and costly impacts of the changing climate."

She and Graves both represent states and districts that are bearing the brunt of climate change, Castor said. "These impacts do not discriminate based on political party. We don't have time to waste," she said.

Sara Chieffo, vice president of government affairs for the League of Conservation Voters, called it's "a dereliction of duty" for Republicans to include on the climate panel lawmakers who have questioned the validity of climate science.

While Graves has called failure to acknowledge climate change a mistake for his party, he and other Republicans on the panel "have consistently put industry interests ahead of our kids' health and our future,' Chieffo said.

Noting that Graves has "seen first-hand the impacts of rising sea levels on coastal Louisiana communities," Chieffo said she hopes Graves "will heed his own past words and experiences and start supporting solutions to the climate crisis."

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