Tags: joe | barton | climate

Rep. Barton: Even Democrats Divided on Climate Change

By    |   Monday, 11 May 2009 12:37 PM

As if running a marathon isn’t taxing enough, runners now have to worry about whether their breathing would violate Obama administration pollution standards and close down the New York and Boston marathons, Rep. Joe Barton of Texas tells Newsmax.

The ranking Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Barton says that under the Clean Air Act, the Environmental Protection Agency can impose limits on any source of pollution emitting more than 250 tons a year. The EPA technically should not consider an emission a pollutant unless it is listed as such by the act, he says. But the U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, has said that since the Clean Air Act didn’t specifically exclude carbon dioxide, the EPA potentially could regulate it.

“The EPA could have just come out and said that for the following reasons carbon dioxide shouldn’t be regulated,” Barton says. “But what the Bush administration did was say we’re going to conduct a notice of proposed rule making. We’re going to go out and open a record, accept public comments, and then make a decision. Well they left, and the Obama administration came in, and they immediately said yeah, we think it should be regulated.”

Under Obama, the EPA has issued an endangerment finding saying that carbon dioxide is a hazard to public health.

“Of course, they’ve not really given any explicit examples of that, because they can’t,” Barton says. “There’s never been anybody who’s been treated in an emergency room for CO2 poisoning. It doesn’t cause asthma; it doesn’t cause your eyes to water; it doesn’t cause cancer.”

Barton says the average healthy adult exhales between four-tenths of a ton and seven-tenths of a ton of CO2 a year.

“So if you put 20,000 marathoners into a confined area, you could consider that a single source of pollution, and you could regulate it,” Barton says. “The key would be whether the EPA said that 20,000 people running the same route was one source or not.”

One indication that the EPA likely would consider 20,000 runners a single source of pollution is that the agency is trying to regulate waste-water runoff and emissions of drilling rigs in oil fields by attempting to define entire areas as a single source of pollution, Barton says.

“So if you have 10 wells, they try to amalgamate those wells into one single source,” Barton says. “Now the courts have rejected that, but the EPA has attempted to do that.”

By the same token, the EPA could consider a truck stop on an interstate highway, a shopping mall, or an apartment complex a single source of unacceptable carbon dioxide emissions.

“Those definitely emit over 250 tons of CO2 a year, and they could be regulated as point sources under the Clean Air Act under the EPA’s standards,” Barton says.

The EPA says carbon dioxide endangers the population because worldwide temperatures are going up, causing droughts, Barton says. While carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere have gone from 250 parts per million to around 385 parts per million since the Industrial Revolution, and average global temperatures have increased, no one knows for sure whether man-made carbon dioxide emissions have anything to do with global warming, he says.

“The United Nation Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s most definitive statement is that there’s 90 percent consensus that man-made CO2 is a probable cause of global warming,” Barton says. “That’s pretty weak.”

Based on that conclusion and a projection that the atmosphere will increase in temperature by a tenth of a degree Fahrenheit by 2050, President Obama wants to levy a tax on carbon dioxide emissions, Barton says.

“The Al Gores of the world say that the scientific debate’s all over,” Barton says, “Well, we never really had a scientific debate, number one. They jumped to a conclusion kind of ex post facto, and so now they’re in heat to put the U.S. economy in a straitjacket by putting these rigid caps and cap-and-trade controls on.”

Thankfully, Barton says, “The country’s waking up and fighting back a little bit, because somebody in Pennsylvania or Ohio says, ‘Well let me get this straight. If we put this CO2 cap-and-trade program into effect, I’m going to lose my job right now. And the temperature worldwide is not going to change enough in the next hundred years that it’ll even be measurable. I don’t think I like that.’”

To capture carbon dioxide from a coal-burning power plant now requires about 40 percent of the power of the plant, Barton notes. That raises the cost of generated electricity “somewhere between 50 percent and 100 percent.” Consumers would pay the higher cost, both in higher electric bills and in higher prices for almost every product that requires electricity to produce.

“If you’re a manufacturing facility where energy cost is a big part of your costs —and in the steel industry and the aluminum industry and some of those industries, energy is 25 to 50 percent of their cost — you raise the costs 25 to 50 percent or 50 to 100 percent, you go out of business,” Barton says. “They just shut down, move to Mexico, move to India, move to China.”

Obama seems oblivious to the potential impact on the economy.

“President Obama has never worked in a for-profit situation,” Baryon says. “His support groups have tended not to be the business groups that really create the jobs, and he has focused on listening to the environmental groups who really don’t care too much about the cost, and they’re interested in it purely from the possible negative effects on the environment. And they think whatever the cost, we need to act, and we need to act now. When he was a senator and when he was a candidate, he accepted that.”

The good news is that when Democrats on Barton’s committee met with Obama last week, Barton says, the president did not seem as ardent about passage of cap-and-trade legislation.

“He made the statement that he wouldn’t oppose them moving a bill on climate change, which is pretty weak, because it’s a major part of his domestic agenda,” Barton observes.

“If they can have a secret ballot, I bet 90 Democrats — maybe 100 — would vote against it,” Barton says. “There are 36 Democrats on the energy committee, and 18 of them are undecided. That tells you something.”

Still, environmental groups could bring in the big guns, like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

“So,” Barton says, “it’s yet to be seen how much pressure the more junior members of the committee in the caucus can withstand if Pelosi says, I want this done, and you’re going to do it.”

Ronald Kessler is chief Washington correspondent of Newsmax.com. View his previous reports and get his dispatches sent to you free via
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As if running a marathon isn’t taxing enough, runners now have to worry about whether their breathing would violate Obama administration pollution standards and close down the New York and Boston marathons, Rep. Joe Barton of Texas tells Newsmax. The ranking Republican on...
Monday, 11 May 2009 12:37 PM
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