Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), House Chair of the Science, Space, and Technology Committee, has no tolerance for climate change science but he is willing to talk about aliens. With just seven days left on the congressional calendar, Smith’s committee discussed the possibility of life outside the solar system in a hearing called, “Astrobiology: Search for Biosignatures in our Solar System and Beyond.”
One day before discussing extraterrestrials, Smith blasted the Environmental Protection Agency’s rules for carbon pollution from new power plants for lacking scientific grounds. In a letter to the EPA, Smith wrote that the proposed standards are “based more on partisan politics than sound science.” “This principle cannot be compromised,” he said. “The agency should not act to unilaterally impose regulations on the American people, particularly when its own advisors have expressed reservations regarding the science on which those regulations are based.”
The EPA’s upcoming limit for how much carbon pollution can be emitted by new power plants is based on extensive review that’s still ongoing in public listening sessions. Far from coming out of nowhere, EPA rules are grounded in the 1973 Clean Air Act, which requires EPA action on pollution that endangers “public health and welfare.”
Smith has relentlessly called into question the integrity of scientific experts when it comes to issues that might hurt the fossil fuel industry. He’s in good company on the House committee, where creationist and anti-environment congressman often question basic science. At one recent House Science committee on climate change policy, 77 percent of the GOP members there refused to accept human-caused warming is even a problem. For his part, Smith has criticized “the idea of human-made global warming.” The longtime climate change denier has cleared $10,000 in Koch Industry donations and over $550,000 in career dollars from the oil and gas industry, which is often his biggest industry donor.
Soon after becoming chair of the Science Committee in January, the so-called champion of science scheduled a hearing that called into question manmade climate change. 97 percent of scientists would disagree with Smith.