Environmental Protection Agency chief Gina McCarthy will testify Thursday morning before the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, whose members plan to grill her about strengthening the agency’s transparency and accountability. Seventeen out of twenty-two Republican members of the committee, or 77 percent, are climate deniers. The members’ refusal to accept the overwhelming scientific evidence of climate change dovetails with their open disregard for the EPA and the work it does.
Billed as a hearing to review science and technology activities at the EPA, official testimony will revolve around the use of science in regulatory decisions; the role of independent scientific advisory bodies; and the importance of transparency and integrity in the agency’s activities.
As a preview of Thursday’s expected polemic, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), chairman of the committee, released a statement on Tuesday criticizing a proposed rule to expand the EPA’s authority under the Clean Water Act (CWA).
“This could be the largest expansion of EPA regulatory authority ever,” Smith said. “The Obama administration’s latest power play to regulate America’s waterways is an unprecedented effort to control the use of private property. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy will testify before the Science Committee this week and the Committee will question her about the Agency’s ever-expanding regulatory agenda.”
In May of this year, Rep. Smith wrote an editorial in the Washington Post accusing the EPA’s proposed new rules and regulations on coal-fired power plants as costing jobs and hurting the economy. In the same op-ed he wrote that “contrary to the claims of those who want to strictly regulate carbon dioxide emissions and increase the cost of energy for all Americans:”
There is a great amount of uncertainty associated with climate science. These uncertainties undermine our ability to accurately determine how carbon dioxide has affected the climate in the past. They also limit our understanding of how anthropogenic emissions will affect future warming trends. Further confusing the policy debate, the models that scientists have come to rely on to make climate predictions have greatly overestimated warming.
Instead of pursuing heavy-handed regulations that imperil U.S. jobs and send jobs (and their emissions) overseas, we should take a step back from the unfounded claims of impending catastrophe and think critically about the challenge before us.
Rep. Smith and his fellow Republican deniers on the Science Committee have taken $3,418,079 in career dirty energy contributions. According to a Center For American Progress Action analysis of federal oil, gas, and coal campaign contributions, Rep. Smith has taken $535,797 in career dirty energy contributions.
In August, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), vice chairman and longtime member of the committee, told his constituents that “global warming is a total fraud” employed by liberals to “create global government.”
Committee member Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-TX), who has taken $568,924 in career dirty energy contributions according to the CAP Action analysis, has said that “proponents of man-made global warming in Congress will use every opportunity they have to invite witnesses to testify before Congress who only share their point of view. We now have clear evidence of what we knew all along, that there are perhaps thousands of scientists who don’t share these views, and sadly have been the subject of concerted efforts to discourage and suppress their findings from publication.”
Rep. Neugebauer is one of 18 members of the Texas congressional delegation that deny the reality of climate change. Over their careers, these members have raked in almost $11.3 million from oil, gas, and coal interests. Texas has suffered 58 climate-fueled disaster declarations since 2011.
McCarthy is testifying before Congress not because she shares the point of view the members of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, but because her viewpoint differs from theirs. Because she accepts the overwhelming science of climate change, and because she works for the EPA, she is the object of Republican vitriol and can expect nothing but antagonistic agendas to be on display during the hearing.
Tiffany Germain, ThinkProgress War Room Senior Climate/Energy Researcher, contributed research to this post.