Archives for posts with tag: environmental regulation


From Agence France-Presse:

Washington. Many of the Republican candidates vying for their party’s nod to take on President Barack Obama, dismiss science in favor of strong evangelical faith, playing to a hard-line conservative electorate.

Only one of the White House contenders, former Utah governor Jon Huntsman, has come out with force to proclaim a belief in man-made climate change, as he condemned his party’s hostilityto science.

“To be clear, I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy,” he wrote in an August post on micro-blogging site Twitter.

“The minute that the Republican Party becomes the anti-science party — we have a huge problem,” the former US ambassador to China later told ABC television’s “This Week.”Sea surface temper

Other major political figures, such as New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, have lambasted the lack of scientific faith of Republican hopefuls seeking the highest office of the world’s first superpoTwer.

“We have presidential candidates who don’t believe in science. I mean, just think about it, can you imagine a company of any size in the world where the CEO said ‘Oh, I don’t believe in science’ and that person surviving to the end of that day? Are you kidding me? It’s mind-boggling!” Bloomberg told an economic forum in November.

The importance of the ultra-conservative vote, championed by a religious, anti-evolution electorate, is not lost on the contenders seeking their party’s nod to face Obama in November’s presidential election.

In Iowa, where caucuses kick off the months-long nominating process on Tuesday, just 21 percent of Republican voters said they believe in global warming, and 35 percent in the theory of evolution, according to a Public Policy Polling survey.

Frontrunner Mitt Romney, a Mormon former governor of Massachusetts, has reversed his pro-science support in favor of more conservative views in a bid to gain favor among the more conservative base of his party.

The shifts in position go to the core of the mistrust from his critics, who label Romney a “flip-flopper.”

As Massachusetts governor, he introduced in 2004 a statewide Climate Protection Plan, billed as “an initial step in a coordinated effort to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.”

And as recently as 2007, he defended the theory of evolution.

But at a New Hampshire town hall meeting in September, he changed his tune.

“The planet is probably getting warmer. I think we’re experiencing warming,” Romney said. “I believe that we contribute some portion of that. I don’t know how much. It could be a lot, it could be a little.”

Later he sought to clarify himself, saying: “My view is that we don’t know what’s causing climate change on this planet.”

Other candidates are not so nuanced in their views. Texas Governor Rick Perry came out strongly against climate science by claiming the data had been “manipulated” by scientists in exchange for funding money.

Representative Michele Bachmann, who in April voted for a House bill preventing further regulation of greenhouse gases, similarly spoke of “manufactured science.”

Former senator Rick Santorum has also dismissed fundamental theories of man-made climate change as “patently absurd,” and Representative Ron Paul has labeled the science “the greatest hoax.”

The Republican Party “has a strong religious base and the evangelical vote is a significant part of that,” said Andrew Kohut, director Pew Research Center for the People & the Press.

There are however, “a fair number of more secular and more moderated religious people who have doubt about global warming.”

The larger issue, Kohut said, is how the federal government uses power to regulate global warming, and the issue is politicized, as Republicans fight what they see as government encroachment into the lives of Americans.

More.

From Associated Press:

Large and small companies have told Republican-led congressional committees what the party wants to hear: dire predictions of plant closings and layoffs if the Obama administration succeeds with plans to further curb air and water pollution.

But their message to financial regulators and investors conveys less gloom and certainty.

The administration itself has clouded the picture by withdrawing or postponing some of the environmental initiatives that industry labeled as being among the most onerous.

Still, Republicans plan to make what they say is regulatory overreach a 2012 campaign issue, taking aim at President Barack Obama, congressional Democrats and an aggressive Environmental Protection Agency.

“Republicans will be talking to voters this campaign season about how to keep Washington out of the way, so that job creators can feel confident again to create jobs for Americans,” said Joanna Burgos, a spokeswoman for the House Republican campaign organization.

The Associated Press compared the companies’ congressional testimony to company reports submitted to the Securities and Exchange Commission. The reports to the SEC consistently said the impact of environmental proposals is unknown or would not cause serious financial harm to a firm’s finances.

Companies can legitimately argue that their less gloomy SEC filings are correct, since most of the tougher anti-pollution proposals have not been finalized. And their officials’ testimony before congressional committees was sometimes on behalf of — and written by — trade associations, a perspective that can differ from an individual company’s view.

But the disparity in the messages shows that in a political environment, business has no misgivings about describing potential economic horror stories to lawmakers.

“As an industry, we have said this before, we face a potential regulatory train wreck,” Anthony Earley Jr., then the executive chairman of DTE Energy in Michigan, told a House committee on April 15. “Without the right policy, we could be headed for disaster.”

The severe economic consequences, he said, would be devastating to the electric utility’s customers, especially Detroit residents who “simply cannot afford” higher rates.

Earley, who is now chairman and CEO of Pacific Gas & Electric Corp., said if the EPA had its way, coal-fired plants would be replaced with natural gas — leading to a spike in gas prices. He said he was testifying for the electric industry, not just his company.

But in its quarterly report to the SEC, Detroit-based DTE, which serves 3 million utility customers in Michigan, said that it was “reviewing potential impacts of the proposed and recently finalized rules, but is not able to quantify the financial impact … at this time.”

Skiles Boyd, a DTE vice president for environmental issues, said in an interview that the testimony was meant to convey the potential economic hardship on ratepayers — while the SEC report focused on the company’s financial condition.

“It’s two different subjects,” he said.

Another congressional witness, Jim Pearce of chemical company FMC Corp., told a House hearing last Feb. 9: “The current U.S. approach to regulating greenhouse gases … will lead U.S. natural soda ash producers to lose significant business to our offshore rivals….” Soda ash is used to produce glass, and is a major component of the company’s business..

But in its annual report covering 2010 and submitted to the SEC 13 days after the testimony, the company said it was “premature to make any estimate of the costs of complying with un-enacted federal climate change legislation, or as yet un-implemented federal regulations in the United States.” The Philadelphia-based company did not respond to a request for comment..

California Rep. Henry Waxman, the senior Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said the SEC filings “show that the anti-regulation rhetoric in Washington is political hot air with little or no connection to reality.”

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From IWatch News:

Two decades ago Congress strengthened the Clean Air Act in an attempt to limit emissions of some of the most hazardous chemicals. But an investigation by the Center for Public Integrity’s iWatch News and NPR has found that the toxic pollution persists in hundreds of communities, including two cities in Pennsylvania. This video profiles those cities.

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The 2010 Report by the President’s Panel on Cancer had this to say about the inefficacy of existing regulations of chemical toxins:

The prevailing regulatory approach in the United States is reactionary rather than precautionary. That is, instead of taking preventive action when uncertainty exists about the potential harm a chemical or other environmental contaminant may cause, a hazard must be incontrovertibly demonstrated before action to ameliorate it is initiated. Moreover, instead of requiring industry or other proponents of specific chemicals, devices, or activities to prove their safety, the public bears the burden of proving that a given environmental exposure is harmful. Only a few hundred of the more than 80,000 chemicals in use in the United States have been tested for safety.

U.S. regulation of environmental contaminants is rendered ineffective by five major problems: (1) inadequate funding and insufficient staffing, (2) fragmented and overlapping authorities coupled with uneven and decentralized enforcement, (3) excessive regulatory complexity, (4) weak laws and regulations, and (5) undue industry influence. Too often, these factors, either singly or in combination, result in agency dysfunction and a lack of will to identify and remove hazards.

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