Upton's Show Trial To Attack EPA Carbon Controls Set For Wednesday Morning

Remember reading about those Soviet-era show trials where politics and everything BUT the facts were actually discussed? Well on February 9th, the Koch brothers and Exxon Mobil are paying for a show trial of their own.

On Wednesday at 9:30 am, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce’s Subcommittee on Energy and Power will hold a hearing to examine legislation (see memo [pdf])aiming to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from curbing global warming pollution from stationary sources (power plants, factories, etc.). The bill “HR __, The Energy Tax Prevention Act of 2011” was proposed last week by self-anointed “manmade climate change” skeptic (see video below) and Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), with the help of Subcommittee Chair Ed Whitfield (R-KY) and well-known climate skeptic Senator James Inhofe (R-OK).

The Centre for American Progress Action Fund (CAP) has a brilliant backgrounder [pdf] on the hearing describing how polluter friendly support in the Committee on Energy and Commerce, primarily on the Republican side, has been paid for by Koch Industries and their partners in polluting the planet. CAP shows that during the 2010 election cycle, the Kochs and their employees gave $279,500 to 22 Republicans on the Committee and $32,000 to five of its Democrats.

Upton himself received $20,000 and representatives for the Kochs met with the new Committee Chairman on the first day of the new congress to discuss the EPA’s use of clean air rules to control carbon emissions. As well, Whitfield received $5,000 from Koch Industries during the last election, and Inhofe $40,000 between the 2007-08 election cycle.

More highlights, or lowlights noted in the CAP backgrounder include:

Nine of the 12 new Republicans on the panel signed the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity “No Climate Tax” pledge that opposed any government action to reduce carbon dioxide pollution.

Koch front-group Americans for Prosperity spent over $200,000 on ads to help key Energy and Commerce Committee members in the 2010 elections. Five of the six GOP freshman lawmakers on the panel benefited from the group’s separate advertising and grassroots activity during the 2010 campaign.

Up for “debate” in this mock trial, is the EPA’s ability to use the Clean Air Act to control carbon emissions, which is based on the scientific grounding that global warming poses significant threats to public health. Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) released a memo [pdf] supporting the EPA’s efforts to safeguard public health and rightly criticized Upton’s misguided polluter friendly (and funded) bill:

Legislatively repealing the scientific determination directly conflicts with the consensus of climate scientists and the world’s most authoritative scientific organizations.”

While this will be EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson’s first chance to defend the EPA’s carbon rules in front of the new House Republican majority, it won’t help that the meeting is a who’s who of Koch and Exxon funded politicians and fossil fuel cheerleaders who will pay tribute to the Upton bill.

Climate Progress notes that, “The committee is stacking the witness stand with big polluters and their allies.” Indeed, witnesses include:

•    National Black Chamber of Commerce president Harry Alford has received $425,000 from ExxonMobil since 1998.
•    Margo Thorning is the vice president and chief economist for the American Council for Capital Formation, or ACCF. ACCF has received $215,000 from Koch foundations and nearly $1.7 million from ExxonMobil.
•    Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott’s 2010 campaign was heavily funded by some of Texas’s largest industries, with most coming from people connected to oil and gas interest. A vocal climate-denier, Abbott sued the Obama administration to end an offshore oil-drilling moratorium instituted following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, and has taken the federal EPA to court three times in the past year.
•    Lonnie Carter is president of Santee Cooper, the largest single mercury polluter in South Carolina.
•    Steve Cousins is vice president of Lion Oil, which ranks 27 on the list of top 100facilities releasing chemicals such as nitrous oxides, sulfur dioxide, particulate matter, carbon monoxide, and benzene into the environment.
•    Peter Glaser of Troutman Sanders LLP works with the Washington Legal Foundation, which has received $325,000 from ExxonMobil since 1998.
•    Fred Harnack represents the U.S. Steel Corporation, which ranks 19th on the 2010 Political Economy Research Institute Toxic 100 Air Polluters list.
•    James Pearce is the environmental general manager for FMC Corp., which had to pay the largest civil penalty ever obtained under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act for repeatedly violating the hazardous waste law at its phosphorus production facility in Pocatello, Idaho.
•    Steve Rowlan is the environmental general manager at Nucor Corp., which is 24 on the 2010 Political Economy Research Institute Toxic 100 Air Polluters list.
•    Self-proclaimed “climate-denier-in-chief” Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK), and one of the draft legislation sponsors, will also testify at the hearing.
•    Illinois Farm Bureau president Phillip Nelson has a history of attacking air and water safeguards, while supporting big polluting mega-farms.

Climate Progress also notes that EPA’s pollution controls have prevented “205,000 premature deaths, 843,000 asthma attacks, and 18 million child respiratory illnesses” and that today the Clean Air Act delivers economic benefits on the scale of 20-to-1 [pdf] – yet Koch and Exxon allies in Congress are more likely to have the wishes of their campaign funders on their minds.

Witness Upton’s new-found climate denial: