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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.

Originally posted to Target Global Warming on Tue Feb 23, 2010 at 07:12 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Jackson looks r~e~a~l worried...[snark] (4+ / 0-)
  •  From this Sunday NYTimes Business Section (3+ / 0-)

    http://www.nytimes.com/...

    Economic View
    A Small Price for a Large Benefit
    By ROBERT H. FRANK
    Published: February 20, 2010
    FORECASTS involving climate change are highly uncertain, denialists assert — a point that climate researchers themselves readily concede. The denialists view the uncertainty as strengthening their case for inaction, yet a careful weighing of the relevant costs and benefits supports taking exactly the opposite course.

    Scientists say that even the 3.6-degree increase would spell widespread loss of life, so it’s hardly alarmist to view the risk of inaction as frightening.

    In contrast, the risk of taking action should frighten no one. Essentially, the risk is that if current estimates turn out to be wildly pessimistic, the money spent to curb greenhouse gases wouldn’t have been needed to save the planet. And yet that money would still have prevented substantial damage. (The M.I.T. model estimates a zero probability of the temperature rising by less than 3.6 degrees by 2100.)

    Moreover, taking action won’t cost much. According to estimates by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a tax of $80 a metric ton on carbon dioxide — or a cap-and-trade system with similar charges — would stabilize temperatures by midcentury.

    This figure was determined, however, before the arrival of more pessimistic estimates on the pace of global warming. So let’s assume a tax of $300 a ton, just to be safe.

    Under such a tax, the prices of goods would rise in proportion to their carbon footprints — in the case of gasoline, for example, by roughly $2.60 a gallon.

    A sudden price increase of that magnitude could indeed be painful. But if phased in, it would cause much less harm. Facing steadily increasing fuel prices, for example, manufacturers would scramble to develop more efficient vehicles.

    Subsidies without cost controls, regulatory reform means that citizens get a little more awful insurance at a huge cost to taxpayers. Like Part D but worse.

    by Inland on Tue Feb 23, 2010 at 07:34:44 AM PST

    •  $80/ton is very steep -- most plans I've seen (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Inland, newusername

      are in the $20 range, and the horrible CLEAR bill starts at $7/ton IIRC.  The higher price is probably more deserved but less politically popular.

      Unfortunately, Obama is giving up on economy-wide cap and trade, and the EPA is blinking agreeing to delay implementation of greenhouse gas rules by a year.

      I've never claimed to be a leader of the DK eco community

      by RLMiller on Tue Feb 23, 2010 at 07:38:38 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'm just going to recall how Kerry was skewered (0+ / 0-)

        for an idea he had endorsed, like, ten years before the 2004 campaign for a fifty cent a gallon tax that would have raised gas prices.  To, horrors, $2.30 a gallon at the time.

        My point being, all the prices on all these fossil fuels are going to go up.  All we are doing is raising them before OPEC can gouge us and global warming kills us.  In twenty years, we're going to be laughing about the days when $2.60 additional a gallon was too much of an increase to fathom.

        Subsidies without cost controls, regulatory reform means that citizens get a little more awful insurance at a huge cost to taxpayers. Like Part D but worse.

        by Inland on Tue Feb 23, 2010 at 08:01:19 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  and the benefits to the economy as well as sustai (0+ / 0-)

         sustainability, are not adequately represented in these debates.

        It's really a meta question: How long can the distortionists and denialists, and those they have duped, continue to prevent the dramatic actions that are required?

        We have lost ground in the court of public opinion in the last couple of years. And public opinion rules the world. It is there we need to focus our efforts imho. And these days I'm all for being less polite.

  •  those hearings haven't changed (3+ / 0-)

    since forever. I just can't imagine how Boxer etc can stand to go to work every day with idiots like that.

  •  From Climatebrad (0+ / 0-)

    on Twitter.

    This is for Kit Bond.

    350.org! The climate can't wait.

    by B Amer on Tue Feb 23, 2010 at 07:40:09 AM PST

  •  If i had a nickle for everytime inhoffe says (3+ / 0-)
    scam???  Jeesh, give it a rest, Mr. flat earth society!
  •  Barrasso is a 'doctor' you know.......yawn. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Target Global Warming
  •  Jackson tells Inhoffe to piss off..(paraphrasing) (3+ / 0-)
  •  Per your 12.26 comment (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gooserock, Target Global Warming

    Nah...this is just grandstanding.  It gives the Republicans a chance to spew their lies.  that's basically what "hearings" are for.

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White

    by zenbassoon on Tue Feb 23, 2010 at 08:28:46 AM PST

    •  Sometimes They're For Our Side Too (0+ / 0-)

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Tue Feb 23, 2010 at 08:40:35 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

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