Wednesday’s showdown between the Environmental Protection Agency and the newly controlled Republican House of Representatives was everything it was advertised to be — and uncomfortable.
In front of a packed hearing in Washington, D.C., EPA chief Lisa P. Jackson took question after question and absorbed accusation after accusation from members of the GOP. Here are five of the most interesting moments I took away from the few hours I spent at the hearing:
1. Kentucky congressman says administration is fighting a 'war on coal.'
When given the opportunity to press Jackson about the EPA’s plans to regulate emissions, Rep. Ed Whitefield (R-Ky.) said, "Let’s face it, these regulations and others from [the] EPA
amount to a war on domestic coal." Whitfield chairs the Subcommittee on Energy and Power and used the rest of his opening remarks to defend coal as good domestic energy source. "Coal is the energy source America possesses in the greatest abundance," Whitfield said.
2. Jackson warns against passing an Upton bill.
During her chance to talk, Jackson warned the committee about supporting committee member Fred Upton’s (R-Mich.) bill
that calls for essentially eliminating the EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gasses, despite the fact the Supreme Court ruled that the agency could explicitly do so in Massachusetts vs. EPA in 2007. Of this scheme, Jackson said, “Politicians overruling scientists on a scientific question — that would become part of this committee’s legacy.”
3. Upton and Inhofe introduce 'Dirty Air Bill.'
Part of the rationale behind the Republican’s dog-and-pony show on Wednesday was for Upton and Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) to introduce the aforementioned bill. Their bill has already been dubbed the "Dirty Air Bill" by Democrats. Inhofe is Upton’s counterpart in the Senate — the most powerful committee member on the Senate side who disregards facts and science. "EPA's regulations will impose enormous costs for no meaningful benefits — in other words, all pain for no climate gain.”
4. Jackson stands by science.
Rep. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.) took his moment in the sun to point out that this all comes back to science. During a day of long-winded remarks, Inslee’s exchange with Jackson was as powerful as it was brief. Inslee asked Jackson, “Do you know of any peer-reviewed studies refuting the science behind climate change? Jackson replied, “No.”
5. Markey gets violent; Bush administration didn’t open critical e-mails.
My favorite sound bite of the day — and this day was all about the sound bite — came from Rep. Ed Markey. Speaking about the Upton-Inhofe bill, Markey said the bill would be “a noose around the neck of American foreign policy.” Beyond that moment, my favorite part of the day came when Jackson was asked by the dean of the House, Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.), if the Bush administration had been given access to the information about climate change that Jackson was talking about. “Yes,” replied Jackson, who added, “But they didn’t open those e-mails.”