Friday, May 13, 2011

House Chairman Upton May Use Debt Ceiling Debate to Defund EPA's Climate Change Activity

The online newspaper Politico is reporting that Republican Fred Upton, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, is considering the possibility of using the debt-ceiling debate "as a vehicle for provisions that would limit federal climate change rules.

"  Upton’s bill to void "EPA’s power to regulate greenhouse-gas emissions" passed in April in the House, but failed when Senator James Inhofe tried to get it passed in the Senate.

EPA's attempts to deal with climate change through regulation of greenhouse gases has been thwarted by Congress, which insists that it, i.e., Congress, has the responsibility to set policy with respect to global warming.  It, i.e., Congress, has steadfastly refused to do just that, with the Republican party leading the fight against cap-and-trade legislation that they once touted as being a "market based solution."  As presidential aspirant and current Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty noted, all of the Republican candidates once felt that climate change was an important national and international problem, and that cap-and-trade was their preferred policy solution.  That was until the tea party gained a vocal platform.  Since then the Republican party has been doing flip-flops (or backflips) to change their tune purely for political expediency.

Just today in an Op-Ed in The Hill, former New Jersey Governor and EPA Administrator - and Republican - Christie Todd Whitman said that the Republican party would rue their complicity in climate change denial:

The debate over the future of the Environmental Protection Agency is one of those debates where an ideological agenda, disguised as budget cutting, will result in a short-term political statement at a long-term cost in dollars and health.

Whitman argued that Republican attacks on the EPA are "short-sighted":

Most importantly, Congress needs to consider the long-term cost of short-term decisions. Eliminating the EPA, or vastly curtailing its ability to regulate pollutants as science develops and identifies more threats to our health, may save a few dollars now, but the long-term cost to our society can be great. Using the scalpel rather than the hatchet is much more challenging, but it is the kind of thoughtful approach we need.
 Time will tell how much this short-sightedness for political expediency will adversely impact our children and grandchildren.

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