Continuing its crusade to undermine the Environmental Protection Agency’s credibility at every turn, the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee on Wednesday held a hearing titled “Examining the Science of EPA Overreach,” which attempted to show how the agency has unnecessarily burdened businesses with pesky pollution regulations.
According to committee chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX), Texas has been faced with “chilling impacts of federal intrusion” with regard to the EPA’s air pollution rules — specifically the agency’s rules on greenhouse gas emissions from new power plants, emissions contributing to ozone formation, particulate matter, and mercury. The hearing, Smith said, would be a “case study” of Texas, and have only Texans as witnesses.
“Americans are tired of the red tape that hampers economic growth,” Smith said, additionally citing the EPA’s efforts to “demonize” hydraulic fracturing with “wild” claims of water contamination. “EPA wants to tell Americans what to do in their own back yard.”
As has been the norm for this type of hearing, the balance of witnesses was overwhelmingly tipped toward deregulation. Four out of five of the witnesses — Texas Railroad Commissioner David Porter, Texas Environmental Quality Commission chairman Bryan Shaw, Texas Farm Bureau President Kenneth Dierschke, and Maguire Energy Institute Associate Director Dr. Bernard Weinstein — adamantly testified against federal oversight of both air pollution from power plants and possible water contamination from fracking, saying the rules should be left up to state governments. None have scientific backgrounds in environmental or public health.
Weinstein, a fellow at the George W. Bush Presidential Center with a doctorate in economics, said that the EPA should not be studying the effects of fracking, or issuing rules on reducing methane emissions from fracking wells. Weinstein also said EPA should not be working to prevent climate change, citing an EPA paper that said “climate change presents a problem that the United States alone cannot solve.”
“I like to liken it to a party to which EPA wasn’t invited,” said Weinstein, who also urged the panel to lift the U.S.’s export ban on crude oil — something Weinstein has previously said would be a great way to take down Vladamir Putin.
Dr. Elena Craft, a health scientist with the Environmental Defense Fund, was the only environmental scientist and only witness to testify in favor of EPA regulation.
The House’s Science committee has jurisdiction over environmental, energy, and science policy, but its leadership is largely made up of climate change deniers. Specifically, 17 out of 22 Republican members, or 77 percent, deny that climate change is occurring or that humans are the cause, despite overwhelming support from the scientific community that says otherwise. This probably comes as a relief to the fossil fuel industry, which altogether has given the Republican members of the committee $3,418,079 in career contributions.