Wednesday Congressional Republicans 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 health and the environment; that finding is what makes the gases subject to regulation under the Clean Air Act.
Lisa Jackson, the E.P.A. administrator, was questioned about proposed limits on emissions from factories, refineries, power plants and vehicles. Republican lawmakers claimed that the science behind the regulatory effort was a hoax and questioned the agency’s interpretation of a Supreme Court decision giving it power to regulate carbon dioxide.
“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.”
Ms. Jackson repeated her defense of greenhouse gas regulation at the hearing, saying that cleaning up the environment would not only improve health but also create jobs.
And she objected to a bill in by two top Republicans on the committee, Representatives Fred Upton of Michigan and Edward 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, called the Energy Tax Prevention Act of 2011, was 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. He said that regulating carbon dioxide emissions would make the most abundant fuels prohibitively expensive to use, and would put American manufacturers at a disadvantage.
“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.”
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