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EPA Chief Defends GHG Rules on Capitol Hill

The head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) yesterday defended the agency’s greenhouse gas regulations before House Republicans.

Lisa Jackson was a witness at a hearing held by the Energy and Commerce Committee, to review the economic impact of the EPA’s limits on carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

She faced a grilling from Republicans, some of whom questioned the science underpinning the EPA’s regulations.

“Anthropogenic warming is an issue that the scientists are still debating and you know it and I know it,” Freshman Rep. David McKinley (R-WV) said, according to Politico.

Jackson replied: “No, I do not agree with that, I absolutely do not agree with that. I am an engineer as well and I know [how to] look to scientific experts to make decisions like this.”

In her opening statement, Jackson attacked the Energy Tax Prevention Act of 2011, a bill introduced last week that seeks to prevent the agency from regulating greenhouse gas emissions. The bill was introduced by two top Republicans on the committee, Fred Upton of Michigan and Edward Whitfield of Kentucky.

Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va) has introduced a less aggressive bill that would delay EPA regulation of industrial carbon dioxide emissions by two years. Co-sponsors include Democratic senators Jim Webb of Virginia and Claire McCaskill of Missouri.

“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.”

But Upton said that regulating carbon dioxide emissions would put American manufacturers at a disadvantage, the New York Times reported.

“Needless to say,” Mr. Upton said, “the Chinese government and other competitors have no intention of burdening and raising the cost of doing business for their manufacturers and energy producers the way E.P.A. plans to do here in America. Our goal should be to export goods, not jobs.”

The EPA introduced its regulations of GHG emissions during the last Congress, as it became increasingly clear that lawmakers would not be approving the creation of a cap-and-trade scheme.

The agency’s regulations followed on from a 2007 Supreme Court ruling, Massachusetts v. Environmental Protection Agency, which obliged the EPA to determine whether carbon dioxide emissions endanger human health and welfare. Jackson said that not only the Obama administration, but also the Bush White House had found that GHG emissions do endanger humans.

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4 thoughts on “EPA Chief Defends GHG Rules on Capitol Hill

  1. Way to tell them Lisa! Any scientist or engineer can show that current atmospheric CO2 increases come from fossil fuel, and it is indisputable. Go to EIA-DOE website, divide annual fuel CO2 emissions by atmospheric mass, result >= 2 ppm/yr. Remainder dissolves in oceans via known physical equilibria & forms carbonates. Absorption of infrared by CO2 in the air is again a physical property, not disputable. Results in increased internal energy (U)in the earth’s thermodynamic “closed system”. Resulting temperature change is just “a matter of degree”, no pun intended.

  2. Please!!! Here is the 2006 National Academy of Sciences review and conclusion: “Even less confidence can be placed in the original conclusions by Mann et al. (1999) that ‘the 1990s are likely the warmest decade, and 1998 the warmest year, in at least a millennium’ because the uncertainties inherent in temperature reconstructions for individual years and decades are larger than those for longer time periods, and because not all of the available proxies record temperature information on such short timescales.”
    Sounds like the “consensus” keeps avoiding all of us except the recipients of government-sponsored foregone conclusions “research”!

  3. Lisa Jackson is nothing more than a political “engineer” who tells her bosses (the President and his backers) what they want to hear. She has not demonstrated, nor provided, any supported evidence of her claims. These claims are the basis for more power for her agency and the administration, at a frightful cost to the American people and our economy. She may claim to be a (chemical) engineer, but she does not have a P.E. after her name, she is not listed in NJ as a registered professional engineer under either her married or maiden name, and none of her biographies show either that she (1) has obtained her license or (2) ever WORKED as an engineer: she is a professional regulator and political advisor, who has spent her entire adult life in government regulatory agencies or high-level appointed positions. (In many states, for her to identify herself as an engineer would be a criminal act.) We cannot continue to allow politicians to dictate science: this is not 1930s Germany or the Soviet Union.

  4. @Samuel Boes “We cannot continue to allow politicians to dictate science” – that much of your post I agree with. As in, we cannot allow politicians who derive their re-election funding from climate change deniers and anti-climate change special interest groups; to dictate science.

    And yet, those special-interest-driven politicians do just that time after time. Their comments would be laughable were it not that they are in a position to obstruct legislation that we desperately need in order to address the real, scientifically accepted, climate change threat.

    @Charles Lankford – you are being extremely disingenuous. You have cherry-picked from the review to support your position. Here is a more complete quote from the very review you cite (http://nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=11676&page=R13), from page 4:

    Based on the analyses presented in the original papers by Mann et al. and this newer supporting evidence, the committee finds it plausible that the Northern Hemisphere was warmer during the last few decades of the 20th century than during any comparable period over the preceding millennium. The substantial uncertainties currently present in the quantitative assessment of large-scale surface temperature changes prior to about A.D. 1600 lower our confidence in this conclusion compared to the high level of confidence we place in the Little Ice Age cooling and 20th century warming. Even less confidence can be placed in the original conclusions by Mann et al. (1999) that “the 1990s are likely the warmest decade, and 1998 the warmest year, in at least a millennium” because the uncertainties inherent in temperature reconstructions for individual years and decades are larger than those for longer time periods and because not all of the available proxies record temperature information on such short timescales.”

    It is clear from this more contextual quote, as well as from a reading of the entire review, that the review in fact supports the overall conclusions regarding the warming trend. They do not represent any lack of consensus, as you fraudulently claim. The single sentence you cited is clearly a statement regarding the reliability of single year, and decadal average, temperatures for the distant past derived from proxy data. But the overall conclusions that the global climate is in fact warming rapidly are upheld by this review.

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