The Koch-Exxon-Skeptic Argument Went Up In Smoke On Eve Of Upton's Show Trial

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The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and its authority to regulate global warming pollution went through its first shakedown today before the Koch Industries and ExxonMobil funded [pdf] House Committee on Energy and Commerce’s Energy and Power Subcommittee.

The show trial was a chance for the Kochtopus, fossil fuel interests, and global warming skeptics (including Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) who announced he is releasing a denialist book) to cry foul that industry is being victimized and that global warming is not a threat, and does not pose any risks to the health and well-being of Americans, and the planet.

But Chairman Fred Upton's (R-MI) and co-author Sen. Inhofe’s polluter-friendly bill, “The Energy Tax Prevention Act of 2011” (see memo [pdf]) had to contend with the “bombshell” revelations released late on the eve before the meeting. Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), the ranking Democrat on the Committee, posted a particularly relevant January 2008 letter [pdf] from former EPA Administrator Steven L. Johnson to then President George W. Bush.

Reported first by Climate Progress, Johnson’s letter instructed President Bush “to use EPA’s authority under the Clean Air Act to reduce” global warming pollution and that his administration must release an “endangerment finding” since carbon emissions endanger public health and the environment:

“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 also told the President that his administration must cut global warming pollution:

“Within the next several months, EPA must face regulating greenhouse gases from power plants, some industrial sources, petroleum refineries and cement kilns.”

Prior to today’s trial, Waxman wrote to Upton reminding him that:

…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.”

Releasing the Johnson letter effectively undermined any legitimacy that the polluter-funded attacks on the EPA may have had in asserting that there are no health risks from global warming pollution.

As well, overturning the Upton-Inhofe economic “argument” that curbing carbon emissions means the loss of jobs, CERES has just released a new report which specifies that the EPA’s new air pollution rules are expected to create high-skilled and well-paying jobs, nearly 1.5 million over the next five years. So much for “job killing”.

At the very least, the next time Sen. Inhofe declares that the “EPA’s regulations will impose enormous costs for no meaningful benefits—in other words, all pain for no climate gain” - tell him he really does need to have scientists attest to his personal claims (or at least have one attend his meetings) - and that you won’t be buying his book.

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