Environmental Protection Agency administrator Lisa Jackson held firm against lead climate pseudo-skeptic James Inhofe and his colleagues on Tuesday at an EPA budget hearing with the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.
The GOP minority quickly turned the budget meeting into a battle of wills, saying that hacked emails from climate scientists at East Anglia Univesity showed bias against countervailing opinion disputing evidence that the principal driver of current climate change is from human activity. Inhofe also used errors in the 2007 Fourth Assessment Report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to base his case that the entire body of scientific evidence is flawed.
GOP Senators also used the heavy winter snow in Washington last week as further proof that the EPA's Endangerment Finding, signed by Jackson last December, that carbon emissions pose a threat to human health and welfare is founded on what Inhofe often calls a "hoax."
We've been told that the science still stands," Inhofe said. "We've been told that the IPCC's mistakes are trivial. We've been told that Climategate is just gossipy e-mails between a few scientists.
"But now we know there's no objective basis for these claims," he added. "Furthermore, Climategate shows there's no 'consensus;' the science is far from settled."
The science behind climate change is settled," Jackson fired back, "and human activity is responsible for global warming. That conclusion is not a partisan one. Not only have America's top scientific institutions come to that conclusion," she added, "but so have numerous other industrialized countries.”
EPA continues to take meaningful, common sense steps to address climate change." Jackson said. "Making the right choices now will allow the agency to improve health, drive technology innovation, and protect the environment; all without placing an undue burden on the nation's economy."
Reinforcing the the scope of the evidence, both scientific and empirical, that climate change is real and something which Congress should urgently act upon, committee chair Barbara Boxer urged Senators to lead instead of obstruct.
While the world is going green, the one place where we can't seem to address climate change directly is here in the Senate," said Boxer.
The Senator cited reports from the U.S. Geological Survey, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the U.S. Global Change Research Program detailing independent research showing ongoing and projected consequences of climate change that is now clearly evident.
Of the accusation that EPA regulations will be a "job killer," Boxer countered:
One of the reasons I am so pleased EPA is addressing climate change is that when we do so, we create millions of jobs. The efforts by some to bottle up clean energy and climate proposals in the Congress have caused firms to hold off on major investments, stifling job growth."
Even with the wide consensus from independent scientific organizations around the world on the reality of and principal cause for climate change, administrator Jackson made clear her support for the overall conclusions and methods of the IPCC, saying that she does not "agree that the IPCC has been totally discredited in any way."
Senator Bernie Sanders, an Independent from Vermont, angrily expressed his frustration with his Republican colleagues over their denial of climate science, and even science in general.
This country faces many many problems, not the least of which, we have national leaders rejecting basic science," he said. "I find it incredible, I really do, that in the year 2010 on this committee, there are people who are saying there is a doubt about global warming. There is no doubt about global warming."
Given the contentious nature of the issue among Senators, key allies say the announcement yesterday that the EPA does not plan to impose any regulations on stationary sources of greenhouse gas emissions (like power and other industrial plants) until 2011 gives legislators some "breathing room" to move forward with climate legislation.