Barton: We Shouldn’t Regulate CO2 Because ‘It’s In Your Coca-Cola’ And ‘You Can’t Regulate God’

Yesterday, the House Energy and Commerce Committee began its markup of the American Clean Energy and Security Act. The work is expected to continue through the week, as Republicans plan to stall movement on the bill by offering more than 400 amendments.

Discussing the bill on C-Span’s Washington Journal this morning, Rep. “Smokey Joe” Barton (R-TX) defended his head-in-the-sand approach to climate change by fundamentally misunderstanding the science, misstating the reality of carbon dioxide emissions, and mocking fuel-efficient cars. Some highlights:

— “I would also point out that CO2, carbon dioxide, is not a pollutant in any normal definition of the term. … I am creating it as I talk to you. It’s in your Coca-Cola, you’re Dr. Pepper, your Perrier water. It is necessary for human life. It is odorless, colorless, tasteless, does not cause cancer, does not cause asthma.”

— “And something that the Democrat sponsors do not point out, a lot of the CO2 that is created in the United States is naturally created. You can’t regulate God. Not even the Democratic majority in the US Congress can regulate God.”

— “If you think greenhouse gases are bad, life couldn’t exist without greenhouse gases. … So, there is a, there is a climate theory — and it’s a theory, it’s not a fact, it’s never been proven — that increasing concentrations of CO2 in the upper atmosphere somehow interact to trap more heat than the atmosphere would otherwise.”

— “You know, that life style is going to become more and more difficult if you get these vehicles smaller and smaller and less and less efficient in terms of being able to travel distances without having to recharge or refuel.”

Watch a compilation:

The idea that since CO2 is “natural” it cannot, by definition, be harmful is a popular one among the conservative climate-denying set — though totally irrelevant. Barton ignores the harmful effects of climate change itself, which will allow diseases to spread more easily, for example. Indeed, the Environmental Protection Agency found that climate change “is expected to worsen regional ozone pollution, with associated risks in respiratory infection, aggravation of asthma, and premature death.”


His complaint about smaller vehicles is also bizarre. He claims these cars will be “less and less efficient” because they will require more refueling stops. But the standards announced by President Obama today will create an average fuel economy rate of 35.5 miles per gallon — meaning cars can go farther between fueling, on less gasoline.

At one point during the C-Span segment, a caller told Barton he sounded like a spokesman for Big Oil. It’s no coincidence: Barton operates a “philanthropic” foundation that actually serves as a front group to funnel energy company funds.