The questions came from all sides, but one in particular stood out: “How would HR 1 affect the EPA’s ability to protect the public?” asked Representative Henry Waxman, (D-Calif.)
During testimony before the U.S. House Energy and Power Subcommittee on the EPA’s budget, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson answered Waxman’s question: “We understand cuts have to happen but it’s part of my job to say, the core programs…are proven public health providers, they reduce premature deaths, reduce cancer…”
She went on to say that the riders in the House bill would tie EPA’s hands. Which is apparently what the House GOP majority is aiming to do.
Rep. Waxman then asked Jackson to set the record straight on a claim made by Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) (his dirty air act passed yesterday, which will prevent the EPA from moving ahead with current and planned climate regulations for electric utilities, oil refineries and other large stationary sources) that EPA’s greenhouse gas regulations would increase gasoline prices.
Jackson said wiping out the regulations would actually drive up the price of gas, because the regulations call for more efficiency on cars, hence less consumption of oil and gas.
“He’s truly grasping at straws,” Waxman quipped.
Among the other back and forths: Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) with a question to Jackson on the “trace elements of mercury” that come from power plants.
Rep. Barton and Jackson wrangled over the amounts of mercury that are emitted from these plants, with Jackson saying “tons and tons of mercury emissions come from power plants.”
“You might want to check that,” countered Rep. Barton, explaining that the metrics were in pounds, not tons. But Jackson said she was speaking cumulatively. (And besides, the potency of mercury makes it dangerous even in minute amounts.)
Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) said her state treasures and cherishes their environmental resources. She wondered whether the economic Doomsday predictions from opponents have any merit. Jackson said that, historically, when EPA regulations have gone into effect, it actually costs a lost less than what industry and even the EPA has estimated it’s going to cost. She cited the acid rain regulation as an example, stating that it actually cost 20 times less than initially estimated.
Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) said his constituents were perplexed that the same people who want to cut essential protective programs are the same people who won’t take away billions in tax subsidies for big oil and dirty energy. He also pointed out that toxic coal emissions disproportionately impact disadvantaged urban areas. He called the House budget cuts “Draconian” and would threaten “people in desperate need of your services and your programs.”
It’s clear that this back and forth between the EPA and those attempting to quash the EPA of it lawful duty – is going to continue. Kudos to Administrator Jackson for holding up under the weight off all this nonsense!