Senate Environment Panel Reviews EPA Cuts

By Published On: March 4, 2011

As a 30 percent reduction in Environmental Protection Agency funding looms with new budget legislation, the Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works aired its impact on the agency March 2. Democrats maintain the agency’s enforcement of directives of the Clean Air Act saves money by decreasing health problems and increases American jobs through pollution control. Republicans allege EPA’s enforcement causes massive job reductions and drags on the economy Ranking member James Inhofe (R-OK) intends to de-fund the agency’s greenhouse gas reduction plans. “The best way to eliminate EPA’s carbon regime is through an authorization bill, Inhofe, co-sponsor of the Energy Tax Prevention Act of 2011, said. “One of the largest expenses EPA has is [climate change] regulation,” he claimed. He invoked that under the agency’s rules, “hundreds of thousands of jobs” are in peril. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) countered that continued EPA funding increases public health and safety. He contrasted his views with those of “some of my friends” claiming EPA’s rules “are job killing.” In addition to the funding issue, the committee hearing debated the science of climate change. Some senators, like Mike Johanns (R-NE), alleged that the planet is cooling. Others referred to scientific findings that global warming is occurring. “We hear that global warming is kind of a fad,” Sanders retorted. “Galileo would have a problem in this room,” added Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI). “Denying [science] is more than irresponsible.” EPA administrator Lisa Jackson moved from science to law--defending the agency’s greenhouse gas reduction policy by citing the “endangerment” precedent. “Once there is a [legal] ‘endangerment’ finding made” on carbon pollution, “EPA must act,” she said. “Greenhouse gas pollution endangers public health and welfare.”

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