EPA on the defensive about 'greenhouse' gas regulation

Lisa Jackson, Administrator of the Environment...Image via Wikipedia
NY Times:

Congressional Republicans opened a formal assault on Wednesday on the authority of the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate greenhouse gases, raising doubts about the legal, scientific and economic basis of rules proposed by the agency.

The forum was a hearing convened by the energy and power subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee to review the economic impact of pending limits on carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases. But much of the discussion focused instead on whether climate science supports the agency’s finding that greenhouse gases are a threat to human health and the environment; that finding is what makes the gases subject to regulation under the Clean Air Act.

Lisa P. Jackson, the E.P.A. administrator, was subjected to more than two hours of questioning, some of it hostile and disrespectful, about proposed limits on emissions from factories, refineries, power plants and vehicles.

Republican lawmakers asserted that the science underpinning the regulatory effort was a hoax, questioned the agency’s interpretation of a Supreme Court decision giving it power to regulate carbon dioxide, and accused the Obama administration of sacrificing American jobs in its misplaced zeal to address climate change.

“The E.P.A. and the Obama administration have decided that they want to put the American economy in a straitjacket, costing us millions of jobs and billions of dollars a year,” Representative Joe Barton, Republican of Texas, said in his opening remarks. “They couldn’t get it through the legislative process, so they’ve tried to do it by a regulatory approach. It’s not going to work.”

He later told Ms. Jackson he was delighted she could appear before the committee and said that she should plan to be there frequently over the next two years.


And she strenuously objected to a bill introduced last week by two top Republicans on the committee, Fred Upton of Michigan and Ed Whitfield of Kentucky, seeking to overturn that court decision and thwart the agency’s efforts to carry it out.

“Chairman Upton’s bill is part of an effort to delay, weaken or eliminate Clean Air Act protections of the American public,” Ms. Jackson said in her opening statement. “Chairman Upton’s bill would, in its own words, ‘repeal’ the scientific finding regarding greenhouse gas emissions. Politicians overruling scientists on a scientific question — that would become part of this committee’s legacy.”

Mr. Upton said that his bill, dubbed the Energy Tax Prevention Act of 2011, was narrowly drawn to restrict agency regulation only of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, not the other air pollutants that have been shown to have more direct effects on health.

Apparently no one asked her whether she was polluting the air by exhaling. It seems a relevant question if she and the agency are going to say that carbon dioxide is a pollutant.

Much of basis for the decision was the discredited report by the UN. It is hard to call that report scientific after its many errors were discovered. If CO2 is a pollutant because it is a greenhouse gas why isn't water vapor which is found in greater quantities as a green house gas also a pollutant?

The committee should withhold funding of this agency until the Upton bill is signed into law.  The Guardian reports that Republicans plan to cut $1.6 billion from the EPA budget.  That is a good start.
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