Muckraker: Grist on Politics

Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chair Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) said on Wednesday that she has been consulting with incoming Obama administration officials on a climate plan, though she didn’t give a sense of when to expect a new bill this year.

“I will be putting out basic principles shortly,” Boxer told reporters. “I wanted to have some consultation [with the incoming administration].” As for when to expect a new bill, Boxer said only that her committee will begin working on one “as soon as it makes sense.”

She was also asked about what sort of green stimulus to expect in the upcoming economic package, and said that while she didn’t give specifics, she foresees it including green measures. “I’m very optimistic we’ll have some green jobs in this proposal, but I can’t say how many.”

Boxer’s committee kicked off the 111th Congress on Wednesday with a briefing on “Investing in Green Technology as a Strategy for Economic Recovery,” featuring New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman and clean-tech investor John Doerr, a partner at legendary venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. The two guests urged the committee to push for a price on carbon and massive investments in the research and development of new energy technologies.

Before moving to legislative work, however, Boxer’s committee will hold the confirmation hearings for two key administration officials on Jan. 14: Nancy Sutley, who has been nominated to head the White House Council on Environmental Quality, and Lisa Jackson, the nominee for EPA administrator.

Asked whether she has any concerns about Jackson, whose appointment has drawn criticism from some environmental groups, Boxer said she thinks Jackson is “very good,” and noted that concerns will be addressed in the confirmation proceedings. “We will clear the air about some of these things groups have been saying,” said Boxer.