(Remarks as prepared for delivery)
On April 2nd, 2007, nearly a year and a half ago, the Supreme Court of the United States confirmed in no uncertain terms that EPA has authority to regulate greenhouse gas pollution under the Clean Air Act. The Court ended years of litigation by ruling against the Bush Administration. It made clear that EPA must move forward.
At first, EPA moved ahead on greenhouse gas regulations, as the Supreme Court directed.
EPA reviewed the science, as we know from Jason Burnett’s previous testimony and the proposed endangerment finding that the White House refused to release. EPA Administrator Johnson reached the conclusion that yes, greenhouse gases endanger public welfare. He deferred the issue of endangerment of public health, which is equally clear. But the proposed endangerment finding drafted by EPA was all that was needed to issue regulations.
Administrator Johnson told us in July of last year that EPA was planning to issue final rules on regulating greenhouse gases by the end of 2008.
We also know from prior hearings that the endangerment finding and EPA’s proposal for regulation had been given the green light by Mr. Johnson and other Cabinet officials.
Unfortunately, after a long delay, the Bush Administration stopped progress on this rulemaking in its tracks.
The White House and Administrator Johnson discarded the key aspects of the work on this rule, and instead took the weakest step possible in order to further delay action.
This was EPA’s “Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.” The Notice contained a series of letters from members of President Bush’s Cabinet and other Executive offices making arguments against Clean Air Act regulation. Even Administrator Johnson wrote an introduction to the Notice undercutting the work of EPA’s staff.
We know this routine all too well. This disregard for the law, misleading the public, and stonewalling are unacceptable.
The stakes could not be higher. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, has warned of the dangers that global warming poses for us all, such as droughts, extreme weather events, threats to water resources, more frequent and intense wildfires, threats to public health, and the extinction of up to 40% of the species on the planet.
Time is not our friend. We have a window of opportunity, and we must take advantage of it. Every moment we wait to address global warming makes it harder to do what is necessary to avert consequences that would be devastating for our nation and for the world.
We need to consider all the tools available to us to avert the dangers of unchecked global warming. And I continue to believe that we need a comprehensive new law to reduce global warming emissions.
But in the meantime there is much that can and should be considered under the Clean Air Act. This law has a proven track record over the last 40 years. It has been very effective in reducing pollution and saving lives.
Our witnesses today will set the record straight on the value of the Clean Air Act in addressing greenhouse gas emissions. They will describe opportunities available now under the Act to move forward.
This hearing will provide a road map for the next Administration to finally take effective action on reducing global warming emissions. After this hearing, my Committee will prepare a report to the next President on the Clean Air Act’s potential role in combating global warming.
I look forward to hearing from our witnesses.