Photo: AP

Change is in the air over at the House Committee on Space, Science, and Technology. An oozing sump of climate change skepticism under the leadership of Texas Republican Lamar Smith, the committee is poised to be taken over by Democrats and led by Texas’s Eddie Bernice Johnson, a registered nurse and longtime champion of science education.

And on Monday, Johnson made her position toward climate change unequivocal in prepared remarks read during a climate communication session at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union in Washington, D.C.

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“Climate change is perhaps the biggest challenge of our time,” Johnson said in the statement. “Warming temperatures across the country can lead to significant negative impacts on our environment, our economy, and our health...following the release of the IPCC’s special report and volume 2 of the Fourth National Climate assessment earlier this year, it is clear that we cannot sit idly by and do nothing to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.”

“It is long time past for us to stop debating the existence of climate change and start discussing the very real impacts of our changing climate on American lives,” Johnson’s remarks continued. “It is time to stand up for science.”

It was a welcome departure from the denialist messaging that’s been issuing forth from the House Science Committee for nearly a decade. By using its subpoena power to intimidate climate scientists and holding hearings aimed at discrediting their findings, Smith managed to turn the committee’s very existence into a mockery of its name. Under Democratic leadership, Johnson has promised a different and far more sane approach to climate science.

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“As we go forward to next year with the changing leadership on the science committee, you can expect to see a renewed focus on climate change,” Johnson’s statement continued, adding that she hopes the committee becomes a “place for thoughtful discussion” on climate science, as well as technological and policy solutions and adaptation measures.

Between Johnson’s plan to give the science committee a hard reboot and the wave of incoming progressives pushing for a special select committee on climate change, it almost seems reasonable to hope the next two years will see some forward movement on the issue—even if it’s just holding oversight hearings to figure out where the hell disgraced former EPA chief Scott Pruitt got his bonkers talking points from.