In hearing, Upton stars as Cheney, powered by Koch Industries
By CAPAF’s Daniel J. Weiss
On the eve of the new House Energy and Commerce Committee’s hearing (watch live here at 9:30 am) on legislation to block EPA from setting standards to reduce carbon dioxide pollution, Ranking Member Henry Waxman (D-CA) released a January 2008 letter from then EPA Administrator Steven Johnson to President George W. Bush. Johnson’s letter told President Bush that the administration must make an “endangerment finding” that carbon pollution endangers public health and the environment. He also told the president to use EPA’s authority under the Clean Air Act to reduce this pollution.
The Supreme Court’s Massachusetts v EPA decision still requires a response. That case combined with the latest science of climate change requires the Agency to propose a positive endangerment finding”¦. the state of the latest climate change science does not permit a negative finding, nor does it permit a credible finding that we need to wait for more research.
Johnson, to his credit, acknowledged that that there was more than adequate evidence that carbon dioxide and other global warming pollutants endangered Americans. Johnson’s successor, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, concluded:
That the current and projected concentrations of the six key well-mixed greenhouse gases “” carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) “” in the atmosphere threaten the public health and welfare of current and future generations.
Johnson also told Bush that his administration must act to cut this pollution.
Within the next several months, EPA must faceregulating greenhouse gases from power plants, some industrial sources, petroleum refineriesand cement kilns.
EPA plans to follow Johnson’s lead. It will propose reductions for power plants and petroleum refineries this summer and fall, respectively.
Johnson also included a more detailed plan with his letter to Bush:
“¢ In response to the Supreme Court mandate in Massachusetts v EPA, issue a proposed positive endangerment finding for public notice and comment as agreed to in the policy process.
“¢ In response to the direction in EISA, issue a proposed vehicles rule jointly with the Department of Transportation to implement the new EISA and address issues raised in the Supreme Court case.
“¢ To address requirements under the Clean Air Act, issue a proposed rule to update the New Source Review program to raise greenhouse gas thresholds to avoid covering small sources and to better define cost-effective, available technology.
Unfortunately, Johnson was not allowed to implement this plan. Politico reports that
Johnson was ready to advance on greenhouse gas pollution limits but Bush overruled him after hearing counter-arguments from the office of Vice President Dick Cheney, the Office of Management and Budget, the Transportation Department and Exxon Mobil Corp.
Because Bush did not act, the Obama Administration used Johnson’s game plan, issuing an endangerment finding, setting new motor vehicle fuel economy and carbon dioxide tail pipe standards, and ensuring that these rules only cover the largest emitters of carbon dioxide and other pollutants. In other words, EPA’s recent steps to protect public health by reducing carbon pollution are the same steps urged upon President Bush.
Energy Committee Chair Fred Upton has already drafted legislation to block EPA from these common sense, moderate steps to reduce pollution. He seems determined to play the Cheney role, while Koch Industries – a major polluter and Upton backer -fills in for ExxonMobil.
When Waxman released the bombshell letter, he wrote Upton to remind him that we now know there was a political consensus that we must reduce carbon dioxide pollution.
As Administrator Johnson’s letter makes clear, both Republican and Democratic Administrations have had the same view of the science: carbon emissions are a serious threat to our nation’s welfare. I urge you to leave the science to scientists and drop your effort to use legislation to overturn EPA’s endangerment finding.
Climate change is a serious problem that necessitates serious solutions.
Instead, Wednesday’s hearing on his Pollution for Everyone Act will be loaded with known climate science deniers and big oil shills. It will be as impartial as the Salem Witch Trials, but with far graver consequences.
— By Daniel J. Weiss, Senior Fellow and Director of Climate Strategy, Center for American Progress Action Fund