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EPA finds an unlikely defender: Rep. Joe Barton

By Climate Guest Contributor on March 10, 2011 at 9:45 am

"EPA finds an unlikely defender: Rep. Joe Barton"

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Leading utility CEOs write in the WSJ, “Contrary to the claims that the EPA’s agenda will have negative economic consequences, our companies’ experience complying with air quality regulations demonstrates that regulations can yield important economic benefits, including job creation, while maintaining reliability.”

Nonetheless, House Republicans held a hearing this week on a bill to strip the EPA of its power to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. Republicans nearly unanimously oppose letting the EPA address the threat of global warming, even though the Supreme Court ordered the EPA to regulate carbon pollution.  Some conservatives want to go even further.  Think Progress has the story of one unlikely EPA supporter in this cross-post.

Despite the EPA’s widespread popularity, a number of conservative leaders and Republicans in Congress, led by GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, are pushing to dismantle the entire agency. Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL) told ThinkProgress the EPA “ought to be scrapped.” Rep. Pete Olson (R-TX) agreed, vowing the “we’re going to fight like heck” to get rid of the EPA. “Even if we can’t totally eliminate them,” Rep. Rich Nugent (R-FL) argued, “we can certainly curtail their power through oversight.”

However, the EPA recently found an unlikely defender: Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX).

In an interview with ThinkProgress, Barton refused to join Gingrich and those House Republicans seeking to dismantle the EPA. Barton declared he is “not one that wants to eliminate the Environmental Protection Agency.” In fact, his defense of the agency was both eloquent and accurate: “There are some issues that cross state boundaries. [...] We need safe drinking water and clean air. Those are interstate commerce issues that do require a federal agency”:

KEYES: One issue I know you’ve been a leader on and you mentioned in your speech was taking a look at some of these agencies, including the EPA. Would you like to see the EPA eventually rolled back and possibly dismantled, sent back to be able to have state regulations instead?

BARTON: There are some issues that cross state boundaries. I’m not one that wants to eliminate the Environmental Protection Agency. We need safe drinking water and clean air. Those are interstate commerce issues that do require a federal agency. Having said that, that agency should work within the law. They should enforce laws that Congress passes, not create regulations literally out of thin air.

KEYES: That puts you on the opposite side though of people like Newt Gingrich, Congressmen Joe Walsh and Pete Olson, who have said we really don’t need the EPA anymore.

BARTON: I don’t want to get into a dispute with my friends. I want an Environmental Protection Agency that’s constitutional and within the law. There are some things that markets can’t do and there are some things that states can’t do. You need an EPA. But it needs to be an EPA that recognizes its role and lives within the statutes that Congress passes.

To be sure, Barton is no environmentalist. In fact, his history on environmental issues is shameful. During the major Gulf Coast oil spill last year, Barton apologized to BP for the $20 billion damages escrow fund, calling it a “shakedown” and a “tragedy.” His record on climate change is no better. He said global warming is just “natural variation” and called it a “net benefit to mankind.” In addition, Barton declared that we shouldn’t regulate carbon dioxide, a principal greenhouse gas, because “it’s in your Coca-Cola” and “you can’t regulate God.

That even an environmental extremist like Barton can eloquently and forcefully defend the need for the Environmental Protection Agency undercuts the push by Gingrich and right-wing House Republicans to eliminate the EPA.

– — Scott Keyes in a Think Progress repost.

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11 Responses to EPA finds an unlikely defender: Rep. Joe Barton

  1. _Flin_ says:

    Once in a while, along come some good news. There just need to be some CEOs and plenty of angry voters.

    It’s about time that the Democrats try to utilize the public opinion instead of believing what Republicans and Fox News tell them. Republican opinion and Fox News opinion does not equal public opinion.

  2. Scrooge says:

    This helps. He is taking a step back from the killer Koch agenda. Seems to be defining the battle as CO2. Of course science will eventually win that battle, the question is how many deaths will occur because of the delaying tactics.
    I wonder if being involved in the Wegman scandal has anything to do with this stance.

  3. I don’t want to get into a dispute with my friends. [...] You need an EPA. But it needs to be an EPA that recognizes its role and lives within the statutes that Congress passes.

    Or in short, we shouldn’t legislate the EPA away, but we should sue the EPA until it can’t do anything. That is different! Really!

    It’s a common refrain of the extreme right wing: ‘we’re just enforcing the law’, ‘we’re just trying to return America to the Founding Fathers’ Constitution’, yadda yadda yadda, and meanwhile they continually defend lawbreakers when it suits them.

    frank

  4. catman306 says:

    Amy Goodman interviews Naomi Klein
    Why climate change is so threatening to right wing ideologues

    http://www.alternet.org/environment/150180/naomi_klein%3A_why_climate_change_is_so_threatening_to_right-wing_ideologues

  5. Barry says:

    Every GOPetroleum pol is going to have to back away from climate denial soon enough. The smart ones won’t dig themselves into such a deep pit of shame that they ruin their party. They are literally the only major party in the world that denies climate change.

    They can’t lobby the absorbsion spectrum of CO2.

    Besides, some actually do care about the biz and families in their districts beyond Big Fossil. They will have to choose one of the other.

  6. 350 Now says:

    Wolf in sheep’s clothing, under the likely advice from a Koch PR firm to improve Barton’s re-election chances.
    If the esteemed gentleman loses re-election, then they must groom another stooge to do their bidding.

    How about a little refresher…. at time stamp 1:30 at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4elLeTY8Mwo

    When all else fails, follow the money trail.

  7. 350 Now says:

    Re catman306 @4 – the video of Naomi Klein and Amy Goodman is currently at
    http://www.democracynow.org/2011/3/9/my_fear_is_that_climate_change

  8. mike roddy says:

    Republicans were never serious about killing EPA. It is a tactical move, calculated to move the bar enough to enable administrative evisceration. Don’t the Dems know how they work?

  9. CTG says:

    Shorter Republican policy: “A twisted tail, a thousand eyes, trapped forever! Eepa! Eepa! Eeeeeeeepa!”

  10. climate undergrad says:

    “There are some things that markets can’t do and there are some things that states can’t do. You need an EPA. But it needs to be an EPA that recognizes its role and lives within the statutes that Congress passes.”

    hmmm… like the clean air act for instance?