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Published on January 29th, 2015 | by Tina Casey


Fun Times Over At The House Natural Resources Committee, With A Northrop-Grumman Twist

January 29th, 2015 by  

If you think things are going to be a little nutty over at the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, fasten your seat belts because the House Natural Resources Committee could get even more…interesting. Our friends over at The Hill have been following the goings-on, and this powerful committee could end up outshining them all.

We’re not saying anything could top the Environment Committee Chairman’s kickoff “truth squad” speech earlier this month, at least not in terms of sheer flat-earth silliness. However, take a second look at who’s who in Natural Resources, and you’ll get a hint of some drama brewing.

House Natural Resources Committee (John Gilbert)

House Natural Resources Committee as interpreted by John Gilbert (public domain, wikimedia commons).

Massacre At The House Natural Resources Committee

While Senate Environment Chair James Inhofe (R-Earthquakes) was distracting everybody with his antics, the new chair of the House Natural Resources Committee, Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT), had already fired his entire Committee staff, including a number of longtime senior experts, apparently dissatisfied with the work of former chair Doug Hastings (R-WA).

Here’s a take from the Washington Examiner late in December:

With Republicans now controlling both chambers of Congress, the Bishop-led committee will look to take a harder line against Obama administration efforts to use the Endangered Species Act to protect at-risk wildlife, which conservatives say stymies development. The committee also will take aim at attempts to designate more public lands and at how agencies implement the National Environmental Policy Act…

Drama In The House Natural Resources Committee

So much for the majority party. On the minority side, just yesterday The Hill‘s Timothy Cama reported that the Committee agreed to put climate change on the agenda, at the request of Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) (the article has Grijalva as R, btw, but that’s a typo).


As reported by Cama, the Committee is now tasked to:

…conduct oversight of global climate change and impacts on federal lands and resources and the strategies for using federal lands, oceans and other resources to mitigate harmful effects.

Grijalva is a straightup climate and land conservation hawk — he’s one of the folks who has pledged to talk about climate change on the floor every day that the House is in session — so this should get interesting.

He’s not afraid to take a swipe at the climate denial caucus, either. Here’s a snip from his House website (breaks added):

Some members of Congress deny the challenges presented by climate change and prefer to ignore the overwhelming scientific data available on the issue.

Rep. Grijalva continues to believe in the need for comprehensive energy legislation that meets the nation’s energy needs, creates green jobs and decreases greenhouse gas emissions.

He understands the importance of investing in clean energy and preventing the potentially catastrophic effects global warming could have on our farms, coasts, and oceans.

The Northrup Grumman Connection

That all sounds really good but it doesn’t mean that anything constructive will actually come out of the House Natural Resources Committee, right?

Well, here’s where that seatbelt might come in handy.

Those of you who have been following the fossil fuel lobbying by ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, may know that Committee Chairman Bishop is thisclose to the powerful organization. He’s been known to post publicity shots of his appearances at ALEC events on his House website, that’s how close.

You probably also know that major corporations have started to desert ALEC due to its role in obstructing climate action, among other issues.

ALEC’s climate change policies have also put it on a collision course with the US Air Force, to say nothing of the entire Department of Defense, which is all over climate change.

That brings us right around to the major US defense contractor, Northrop Grumman.

Our friends over at The National Journal tipped us last night that Northrop, which has funded ALEC in the past and just formally joined the organization in July 2013, has just bailed.

Credit is being accorded to an investor responsibility effort spearheaded by the Congregation of Sisters of St. Agnes, which is a shareholder in the company.

However, we’re thinking that the Defense Department is quietly — or maybe not so quietly — working on its supply chain to close ranks on climate change, so maybe that had something to do with Northop’s quick turnaround on ALEC.

That brings us to Committee Chairman Rob Bishop’s home state of Utah.

If you guessed that Northrop Grumman is a major employer in Utah, go buy  yourself a cigar.

The company completed a major 52,000 square foot expansion of its Salt Lake City facility back in 2011, and its no surprise that the company is a Bishop contributors, partly through an employee PAC.

On his part, here’s what Bishop has done for Northrop:

Project: Automated Component Development Automated Air to Air Refueling.

Requesting Entity: Northrop Grumman, 1530 Layton Hills Pkwy, Layton, Utah 84041.

Purpose: Demonstration of technology to allow for automated refueling of pilotless platforms in mid-air, such as UAVs and next generation bombers, allowing for greater global strike capabilities.

Amount: $5 million

As George Takei would say, oh my.

We’re thinking that between Northrop and his fossil industry contributors, Bishop is stuck between a rock and a hard place, so we’ll leave it at that. If Northrop Grumman is important to Utah and to Rob Bishop, and climate change is important to the Defense Department, then climate change is important to Rob Bishop — even if he won’t admit it in public.

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About the Author

specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.

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