“Folks, last week, President Obama cynically used the inaugural address to push his radical pro-survival agenda. Folks, I didn’t think this part of his speech would get any traction, because there’s no national consensus on climate change. It’s like if JFK announced the Apollo program, but half the country denied the Moon exists.” -Stephen Colbert
“And reality has a well-known liberal bias.” -Stephen Colbert
The House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology has a subpanel on the environment — and it has become a strange thing to watch this year.
Its new chairman is a climate denier. It scheduled a hearing about climate change featuring climate deniers but since most of Washington DC shut down for a blizzard that manifested itself in the city as a lot of rain, they postponed it. Other committees, like the House Energy and Commerce Committee, have been refusing to hold hearings on climate change. Therefore this subcommittee is becoming the only option to hear in person what the House of Representatives thinks about climate change (short of catching a one minute speech on the House floor from the Safe Climate Caucus).
On Wednesday, the subcommittee on the environment investigated the EPA’s Science Advisory Board. This is the EPA’s scientific body it consults as it writes regulations — such as clean air and fracking rules.
Last year, the House GOP introduced legislation to reform the board because it said there is not enough industry representation, and too many scientific experts on the board receive EPA grants. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse showed in 2008 how industry (i.e. ExxonMobil and Dow) can gain harmful influence over scientific panels. During this hearing, the members debated similar legislation for the new congress.
Francesca Grifo of the Union of Concerned Scientists testified that the draft bill would not help the integrity of the scientific process:
This draft bill contains provisions that would slow the work of the Scientific Advisory Board, remove longstanding and widely accepted practices for dealing with conflicts of interest and reduce the expertise of Scientific Advisory Board members.”
This debate appears to be more an instance of lawmakers seeing data they do not like, and going back to the drawing board to change the rules to get a different result. There is scientific consensus that humans cause climate change, that it is a serious threat to our civilization, and we need to act now.
Subcommittee Chairman Chris Stewart (R-UT) finished his statement noting he was just here to help: “If the EPA scientific process is viewed as being biased, or less than willing to consider every point of view, their credibility suffers.” This would have been more credible if he had not just introduced the EPA as a job-killing monster:
Whether it is promulgating air quality regulations that could shut down large swaths of the West, undertaking thinly veiled attacks on the safety of hydraulic fracturing, or pursuing job-killing climate regulations that will have no impact on the climate, EPA’s reputation as a lightning rod for controversy is well known here in Washington and throughout the country.
When a series of doctors tell a patient about a serious health condition, accusing the doctors of bias does not heal anything.