Administrator Lisa P. Jackson's Opening Statement about Chairman Upton’s draft bill to eliminate portions of the Clean Air Act

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Wed, 02/09/2011 - 12:23.

Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, Opening Statement Before the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Energy and Power

As prepared for delivery – Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee, thank you for inviting me to testify about Chairman Upton’s draft bill to eliminate portions of the Clean Air Act, the landmark law that all American children and adults rely on to protect them from harmful air pollution.

The bill appears to be part of a broader effort in this Congress to delay, weaken, or eliminate Clean Air Act protections of the American public. I respectfully ask the members of this Committee to keep in mind that EPA’s implementation of the Clean Air Act saves millions of American children and adults from the debilitating and expensive illnesses that occur when smokestacks and tailpipes release unrestricted amounts of harmful pollution into the air we breathe.

Last year alone, EPA’s implementation of the Clean Air Act saved more than 160,000 American lives; avoided more than 100,000 hospital visits; prevented millions of cases of respiratory illness, including bronchitis and asthma; enhanced American productivity by preventing millions of lost workdays; and kept American kids healthy and in school.

EPA’s implementation of the Act also has contributed to dynamic growth in the U.S. environmental technologies industry and its workforce.  In 2008, that industry generated nearly 300 billion dollars in revenues and 44 billion dollars in exports.

Yesterday, the University of Massachusetts and Ceres released an analysis finding that two of the updated Clean Air Act standards EPA is preparing to establish for mercury, soot, smog, and other harmful air pollutants from power plants will create nearly 1.5 million jobs over the next five years.

As you know, Mr. Chairman, the Supreme Court concluded in 2007 that the Clean Air Act’s definition of air pollutant includes greenhouse gas emissions.  The Court rejected the EPA Administrator’s refusal to determine whether that pollution endangers Americans’ health and welfare.

Based on the best peer-reviewed science, EPA found in 2009 that manmade greenhouse gas emissions do threaten the health and welfare of the American people.

EPA is not alone in reaching that conclusion.  The National Academy of Sciences has stated that there is a strong, credible body of evidence, based on multiple lines of research, documenting that the climate is changing and that the changes are caused in large part by human activities.  Eighteen of America’s leading scientific societies have written that multiple lines of evidence show humans are changing the climate, that contrary assertions are inconsistent with an objective assessment of the vast body of peer-reviewed science, and that ongoing climate change will have broad impacts on society, including the global economy and the environment.

Chairman Upton’s bill would, in its own words, repeal that scientific finding.  Politicians overruling scientists on a scientific question-- that would become part of this Committee’s legacy.

Last April, EPA and the Department of Transportation completed harmonized standards under the Clean Air Act and the Energy Independence and Security Act to decrease the oil consumption and greenhouse gas emissions of Model Year 2012 through 2016 cars and light trucks sold in the U.S.

Chairman Upton’s bill would block President Obama’s plan to follow up with Clean Air Act standards for cars and light trucks of Model Years 2017 through 2025.  Removing the Clean Air Act from the equation would forfeit pollution reductions and oil savings on a massive scale, increasing America’s debilitating oil dependence.

EPA and many of its state partners have now begun implementing safeguards under the Clean Air Act to address carbon pollution from the largest facilities when they are built or expanded.  A collection of eleven electric power companies called EPA’s action a reasonable approach focusing on improving the energy efficiency of new power plants and large industrial facilities.

And EPA has announced a schedule to establish uniform Clean Air Act performance standards for limiting carbon pollution at America’s power plants and oil refineries.  Those standards will be developed with extensive stakeholder input, including from industry.  They will reflect careful consideration of costs and will incorporate compliance flexibility.

Chairman Upton’s bill would block that reasonable approach.  The Small Business Majority and the Main Street Alliance have pointed out that such blocking action would have negative implications for many businesses, large and small, that have enacted new practices to reduce their carbon footprint as part of their business models.  They also write that it would hamper the growth of the clean energy sector of the U.S. economy, a sector that a majority of small business owners view as essential to their ability to compete.

Chairman Upton’s bill would have additional negative impacts that its drafters might not have intended.  For example, it would prohibit EPA from taking further actions to implement the Renewable Fuels Program, which promotes the domestic production of advanced bio-fuels.

I hope this information has been helpful to the Committee, and I look forward to your questions.
 

Why Bush and Chaney should be tried for murder

Bombshell: Bush EPA Administrator said the science necessitated action on global warming — President “overruled” EPA due to “Cheney … and Exxon Mobil” - In hearing, Upton stars as Cheney, powered by Koch Industries

Posted: 09 Feb 2011 07:24 AM PST

By CAPAF’s Daniel J. Weiss

On the eve of the new House Energy and Commerce Committee’s hearing (watch live here at 9:30 am) on legislation to block EPA from setting standards to reduce carbon dioxide pollution, Ranking Member Henry Waxman (D-CA) released a January 2008 letter from then EPA Administrator Steven Johnson to President George W. Bush.  Johnson’s letter told President Bush that the administration must make an “endangerment finding” that carbon pollution endangers public health and the environment.  He also told the president to use EPA’s authority under the Clean Air Act to reduce this pollution.

The Supreme Court’s Massachusetts v EPA decision still requires a response. That case combined with the latest science of climate change requires the Agency to propose a positive endangerment finding….  the state of the latest climate change science does not permit a negative finding, nor does it permit a credible finding that we need to wait for more research.

Johnson, to his credit, acknowledged that that there was more than adequate evidence that carbon dioxide and other global warming pollutants endangered Americans.  Johnson’s successor, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, concluded:

That the current and projected concentrations of the six key well-mixed greenhouse gases — carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) — in the atmosphere threaten the public health and welfare of current and future generations.

Johnson also told Bush that his administration must act to cut this pollution.

Within the next several months, EPA must faceregulating greenhouse gases from power plants, some industrial sources, petroleum refineriesand cement kilns.

EPA plans to follow Johnson’s lead.  It will propose reductions for power plants and petroleum refineries this summer and fall, respectively.

Johnson also included a more detailed plan with his letter to Bush:

Phase 1

• In response to the Supreme Court mandate in Massachusetts v EPA, issue a proposed positive endangerment finding for public notice and comment as agreed to in the policy process.

• In response to the direction in EISA, issue a proposed vehicles rule jointly with the Department of Transportation to implement the new EISA and address issues raised in the Supreme Court case.

• To address requirements under the Clean Air Act, issue a proposed rule to update the New Source Review program to raise greenhouse gas thresholds to avoid covering small sources and to better define cost-effective, available technology.

Unfortunately, Johnson was not allowed to implement this plan.  Politico reports that

Johnson was ready to advance on greenhouse gas pollution limits but Bush overruled him after hearing counter-arguments from the office of Vice President Dick Cheney, the Office of Management and Budget, the Transportation Department and Exxon Mobil Corp.

Because Bush did not act, the Obama Administration used Johnson’s game plan, issuing an endangerment finding, setting new motor vehicle fuel economy and carbon dioxide tail pipe standards, and ensuring that these rules only cover the largest emitters of carbon dioxide and other pollutants.  In other words, EPA’s recent steps to protect public health by reducing carbon pollution are the same steps urged upon President Bush.

Energy Committee Chair Fred Upton has already drafted legislation to block EPA from these common sense, moderate steps to reduce pollution.  He seems determined to play the Cheney role, while Koch Industries – a major polluter and Upton backer –fills in for ExxonMobil.

When Waxman released the bombshell letter, he wrote Upton to remind him that we now know there was a political consensus that we must reduce carbon dioxide pollution.

As Administrator Johnson’s letter makes clear, both Republican and Democratic Administrations have had the same view of the science:  carbon emissions are a serious threat to our nation’s welfare.  I urge you to leave the science to scientists and drop your effort to use legislation to overturn EPA’s endangerment finding.

Shamefully, Upton seems determined to ignore the science, Americans’ health, and his own past statement that

Climate change is a serious problem that necessitates serious solutions.

Instead, Wednesday’s hearing on his Pollution for Everyone Act will be loaded with known climate science deniers and big oil shills.  It will be as impartial as the Salem Witch Trials, but with far graver consequences.

By Daniel J. Weiss, Senior Fellow and Director of Climate Strategy, Center for American Progress Action Fund

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