SENATOR INHOFE OPENING STATEMENT
Hearing on the Supreme Court’s Decision in Massachusetts V. EPA
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
Thank you for having this hearing today Madame Chairman, so that we may examine the recent Supreme Court decision that, more than any other in recent years, usurps Congressional authority. It represents judicial activism at its worst, where five justices chose to place their own policy concerns above the rule of law.
Through this decision, the Court’s liberal justices have not only chosen to provide the executive branch with authority it clearly was not granted, but to create a regulatory quagmire in which EPA is granted the authority to regulate carbon dioxide through a statute which clearly was not intended to deal with it. Ironically, when the Clean Air Act was passed in the 1970s, the doomsayers in society were not saying the world was going to turn into a ball of fire, but into a ball of ice.
The simple fact is that this issue is not only extremely complex from a scientific perspective, but also from an economic one. How it is handled will have profound consequences for every American because fossil-fueled energy is the very lifeblood of our economy. Attempts to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions will bring with them as-yet unimagined hardships to America’s poor, elderly and the working class.
The Constitution clearly intended Congress to be the branch of government to deal with extremely intricate and far-reaching questions, not for the executive branch to be handed sweeping authority based on tortured and stretched interpretations of statutory language.
But we are where we are. The Supreme Court has ruled. It has ruled unwisely, but it has ruled.
I do not envy you Mr. Administrator. No doubt you are being pressured to exercise the authority you have had forced upon you and to make carbon regulation the central organizing principle of our society. But I caution you against it.
I suspect that you, as a scientist, are all too well aware of how politicized the science of climate change has become. In the rush to forge a consensus, there has been a coordinated effort to squash scientific findings and voices which the alarmists find inconvenient.
Yet as John Kollias recently wrote in the San Antonio Express News, "the ‘scientific consensus’ used to be that the Earth was flat, that the sun traveled around the Earth and, until 30 years ago, that we were entering a new ice age."
Our understanding of the climate is now in its infancy and more information is coming in all the time. Just last year, it was discovered that trees emit methane, a potent greenhouse gas. If we did not know trees – which are seemingly everywhere – emit methane, what else don’t we know about this planet. As it turns out, quite a lot.
A study published last week [April 18th] in Geophysical Research Letters finds that wind shear in the Atlantic will increase with global warming, leading to fewer and weaker tropical storms. Looks like Al Gore got it wrong again. Apparently, the hurricanes might not be so angry after all.
In assessing whether greenhouse gases endanger public health and welfare, how will you evaluate the most recent cutting edge findings which demonstrate what we all know to be true – that climate fluctuations, whether natural or caused by man, will have good as well as negative consequences? How will you work into your analysis the number of deaths and economic damage that would be averted in a warmer world due to increased wind shear and thus, decreased Atlantic storm activity? How will you calculate increased food production from longer growing seasons? In short, how will you quantify both sides of this equation?
I’m sure you recognize that national ambient air quality standards for greenhouse gases cannot be crafted without putting every county in the nation into nonattainment. Since, even in theory, States could not possibly craft Implementation Plans showing they would attain a NAAQS standard, wouldn’t EPA have to disapprove their plans and take over the programs? Since China will become the world’s biggest carbon emitter this year, wouldn’t this mean we’re putting China and other developing countries in charge of whether States receive their highway dollars?
The Clean Air Act was never designed to control carbon dioxide. As Richard Lindzen, a MIT climate scientist, said on the Weather Channel in March, "Controlling carbon is a bureaucrat’s dream. If you control carbon, you control life."
Mr. Administrator, you have a mess on your hands. I urge you to think carefully before you proceed.