And we're live from the Dirksen Senate Office Building! The Environment & Public Works Committee is holding a hearing on the Environmental Protection Agency's budget. Expected to be most controversial -- President Obama's request to increase funds to regulate carbon emissions, as directed by the Congressionally-passed, Supreme Court-approved Clean Air Act.
The National Wildlife Federation has been vigorously defending climate regulations against Dirty Air Act attacks. We'll keep you updated on today's hearing. Shenanigans are expected from both sides -- I hear Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) has some drama planned, and I saw some youth climate activists scheming in the hallway on the way in.
UPDATE 12:07pm -- Sen. Boxer gavels the hearing to a close. The message I get from this hearing is that of a $10 billion EPA budget, the GOP objects to only the $56 million dedicated to curbing carbon pollution. Isn't that a big win for Lisa Jackson? No other cuts suggested at all?
12:07pm -- Sen. Boxer gavels the hearing to a close. The message I get from this hearing is that of a $10 billion EPA budget, the GOP objects to only the $56 million dedicated to curbing carbon pollution. Isn't that a big win for Lisa Jackson? No other cuts suggested at all?
11:56am -- Inhofe finishes five minute climate denial rant, pauses, then awkwardly says "So ... that's my question." Hearing room bursts out in laughter.
11:52am -- As the hearing nears the two hour mark, I'm struck by how old & weak the climate deniers' arguments have been. I mean, if I was pushing a "scandal" that had been thoroughly debunked by the Associated Press three months ago, wouldn't people look at me like I was crazy?
11:45am -- Sen. Whitehouse details how for his state of Rhode Island, getting off dirty fuels is about not just global warming, but about clean air & childhood asthma. Coal-burning states in the Midwest build high smokestacks so air currents can take the pollution out of their state, only to see it deposited in Northeast & Mid-Atlantic states upwind. I hope other East Coast Senators like Scott Brown, Susan Collins, Olympia Snowe & Jim Webb are listening.
11:40am -- Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) frames today's hearing perfectly. It's not about scientists vs. scientists -- it's about the massive polluter propaganda industry vs. scientists.
11:33am -- Sen. Inhofe is cementing his status as Big Oil's MVP today. Sen. Inhofe and his leadership PAC have received $2,182,631 from the oil & gas industries since 1998, according to OpenSecrets.org. During that time, America’s foreign oil imports have increased a startling 21 percent.
11:30am -- Sen. Sanders: We need to "act and act boldly."
11:26am -- Again, I'm not a Capitol Hill standards & practices expert (this is Miles Grant, NWF Wildlife Promise blogger), but shouldn't there be some questions related to the EPA's budget?
11:22am -- Another neat obstructionist Republican trick -- refer to research from Big Oil front groups as simply "according to a study ..." Oooh, and thanks to Sen. Barrasso, the classic science denial term "sound science" makes a rare appearance!
11:15am -- Committee Democrats, particularly Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) are focused like a laser on jobs. The committee's obstructionist Republicans are completely focused on denying science. It's a striking contrast.
11:10am -- Love Inhofe's questioning M.O. -- act all frustrated you can't get an answer to this one question -- IF I COULD ONLY GET AN ANSWER -- then when the witness starts smacking down your bogus talking points, cut them off. Pretty cowardly.
11:06am -- Does Sen. Inhofe have any questions about, like, y'know, the EPA's budget? Just askin'.
11:04am -- Whoever had 11:04am in the pool for "first time Sen. Inhofe complains about not having enough time to ask questions despite asking long, rambling non-questions" -- you win!
10:56am -- Lisa Jackson begins her opening statement. Is it just me or did Sen. Barrasso refers to the $10 billion EPA budget as the "largest EPA budget request in history"? According to today's New York Times, "The fiscal 2011 request would cut the agency's total funding by about $300 million from 2010 levels while allotting $56 million."
10:52am -- Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) begins his opening statement and immediately is in Scent of a Woman IF I WAS 30 YEARS YOUNGER I'D TAKE A FLAMETHROWER TO THIS PLACE mode. He's riled up by the blatant science denial he's heard so far -- and to be honest, I wish some of the other committee Democrats showed as much passion as Senators Sanders, Boxer & Whitehouse show about this issue.
10:44am -- Whoops. Just giggled. Major faux pas in a Congressional hearing. Couldn't help it. Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) just used his favorite line about how "we need red, white & blue jobs." I'm still waiting for a definition of what a red, white & blue job is -- and what jobs are apparently communist.
10:41am -- Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) focuses his opening remarks on the public health threats posed by global warming.
10:39am -- Via Twitter's @rutherfordbhaze: I almost expect Inhofe to call Tom Cruise as a witness to testify in support of his "Minority Report"
10:36am -- As if on cue, Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) denies global warming exists.
10:35am -- Why are committee Democrats bothering to bicker with Inhofe, Bond & others on climate science? It could be 80 degrees in the Arctic in January and Jim Inhofe would still be cashing Big Oil's checks and denying anything was wrong. The committee Democrats should be trying to win over the audience, not beating their head against the wall that is the Senate GOP's obstructionist wing.
10:31am -- Sen. Bond now says we should subsidize nuclear power & "clean" coal. Wait, I thought there wasn't a problem? If you think there's no energy or climate crisis, why would you then support subsidies? Again, just no ideological coherence.
10:26am -- Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO) would have a lot more credibility criticizing clean energy & climate legislation if he didn't begin his remarks by denying global warming. It's the equivalent of a Congressman saying "my gated community is perfectly safe," then criticizing a crime bill. Just cuts the legs out from your credibility.
10:20am -- Sen. Inhofe literally just said there is no valid climate science anywhere on the planet. If there is no evidence that could possibly convince him, why bother trying? EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson is really testifying to the other members of the committee today.
10:17am -- The obstructionist wing of the GOP has changed its slogan for 2010 from "no" to "start over." Same difference.
10:15am -- I love when Sen. Inhofe refers to "the minority staff" -- his employees -- as if they're an independent research body on par with Woodward & Bernstein.
10:10am -- Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-CA) has just gaveled the hearing to opening. She begins by mourning the sudden passing of Fish & Wildlife Service Director Sam Hamilton.