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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.

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From iWatchNews:

In the latest challenge to regulatory Washington, the Republican-led House on Wednesday passed the “Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act.” The legislation, also known as the REINS Act, would allow Congress to block the costliest regulations and add new hurdles for some of the more expansive environmental, health and workplace safety protections for citizens.

The REINS Act would send to Congress for a vote any “major rule” expected to have more than a $100 million annual economic effect, significantly increase costs or stifle productivity or innovation. The category could include proposed rules to strengthen protections from toxic air pollution that still plagues hundreds of communities across the country.

Though the bill is unlikely to pass the Senate, it provides heightened visibility for an issue that repeatedly has surfaced on the campaign trail and in television advertising in the run-up to the 2012 presidential election. Republicans, calling for a shift in oversight duties from unelected bureaucrats to elected legislators, say regulations come at a big cost to jobs and the economy. Democrats contend the move would undermine protections that ensure Americans safe food, water, air, workplaces and consumer products.  Only four Democrats sided with Republicans in Wednesday’s 241-184 vote.

Republicans assert that the Obama administration has unleashed a torrent of regulations, creating uncertainty in the business community. But a recent examination of government data by Bloomberg found that, 33 months into his presidency, Obama had approved 5 percent fewer regulations than his predecessor, George W. Bush, during his first 33 months.

The proposed legislation alarms progressive groups who say it could subject crucial public protections to the whims of politicians who are easily influenced and sometimes have little understanding of the complexities involved in rulemaking.

The White House issued a statement Tuesday, threatening to veto the legislation and calling it “a radical departure from the longstanding separation of powers.”

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From Reuters:

Republicans, backed by wealthy conservative lobbyists, are determined to stop the EPA and what they see as an activist agenda that is costing jobs and hurting corporate profits.

“Right now for House Republicans one of their important rally cries is that EPA regulations are excessive and even abusive,” said Robert Stavins, director of the Harvard Environmental Economics Program.

After President Barack Obama’s push for a climate bill in Congress collapsed last year, the EPA was left as the last bastion of hope for his environmental policy.

This led the agency, ironically founded under the Republican administration of Richard Nixon in 1970, to pursue its environmental agenda vigorously. The EPA was considered a toothless tiger under the administration of George W. Bush.

Almost on par with government spending, Republicans galvanized around the issue, using every opportunity, such as congressional hearings, relentlessly to criticize EPA chief Lisa Jackson and stymie her agency’s efforts.

While Republicans face stiff opposition in any legislation to shackle the EPA from the Democrat-controlled Senate and the White House, they do have a number of options, especially in the run-up to the 2012 elections.

And the party has proven adept at outflanking the often disunited Democrats on big issues.

House Republicans could move to cut EPA funding through the appropriations process or through deficit-cutting talks in November as required by the debt-ceiling agreement.

Representative Fred Upton, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, was picked by Republicans to be part of the 12-member congressional committee that will decide on cuts needed as part of the debt-ceiling agreement.

He could push hard for savings from the EPA’s budget as he has led the battle against its rules.

Senate Majority leader Harry Reid recently said he sees no threat to the EPA from Upton’s presence on the super-committee.

“I would assume they will make a serious effort to cut back and apply pressure to cut back EPA regulatory activity as part of this budgetary process,” Stavins said.

“I don’t know if they’ll succeed. That will depend on what the Democratic response to that is.”

Representative Ed Whitfield, another leading Republican on energy policy issues, said that outside the debt talks his party will hammer away in hearings and through legislation on its themes that the EPA has been killing jobs and growth.

Whitfield said Democrats, especially those from energy-intensive states such as West Virginia and Ohio, should know it will be a major issue on the campaign trail.

“We want to keep passing things on the House side that would reverse things EPA is doing simply because we’d like to see those 23 Democratic senators up for reelection next year vote on some of this,” Whitfield said.

EPA ACTIONS INFLAME REPUBLICANS

Of the most contentious proposals, the EPA wants to cut greenhouse gas emissions from the country’s major utilities. But the process has been delayed, in part, some suspect, by Republican pressure.

These rules could hit the bottom lines of such companies as American Electric Power and Duke Energy. Similar regulations are also planned for oil refineries.

In addition, the EPA has been struggling to complete a much-delayed rule on ozone pollution while also pushing new fuel-efficiency standards and measures to cut emissions from oil and gas drilling.

In protest, states and industry groups have slapped the EPA with multiple lawsuits, which could delay implementation of its rules and slow investment in energy-dependent industries.

CHOKING THE FUNDING

Republicans have tried a number of legislative moves to hamper the EPA. In April, the House passed a bill designed as a blanket ban on the EPA from regulating greenhouse gas emissions and sent it to the Senate, which voted 50-50 on it, falling short of the super-majority needed.

The House Interior-EPA spending bill introduced last month to cut funding to EPA programs is also pending.

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From Politics Daily:

Fire retardants in baby blankets, nano-particles in cosmetics, plastics in water bottles and anti-bacterial agents in soaps.

Experts call these and other chemicals emerging contaminants — compounds that were once thought to be safe, but which scientists now believe may pose a danger to human health.

How those chemicals get into your house — and your bloodstream — is no surprise: Loopholes in the federal law that regulates toxic chemicals have allowed manufacturers to sell them without first proving they are safe.

In recent years, however, dozens of studies — many funded by the federal government — have shown that chemicals that are

ubiquitous in the environment and in consumer goods can cause cancer, wreak havoc on hormones, damage the developing brain, depress the immune system and alter gene expression-among other problems. Earlier this year, the President’s Cancer Panel reported, “The true burden of environmentally induced cancers has been grossly underestimated.” And Linda

Birnbaum, director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, which funded many of the top studies, told Congress, “Research has revealed the heightened vulnerability of fetal, infant and child development processes to disruption from relatively low doses of certain chemicals.” Birnbaum, like EPA chief Lisa Jackson, urged Congress to revamp the federal law that regulates toxic chemicals, giving the agency greater authority to protect the public.

Last fall, a group of congressional Democrats vowed to overhaul the 34-year-old Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to make it easier for EPA to take dangerous chemicals off the market and ensure that the substitutes are safe. But one year, six congressional hearings and 10 “stakeholder sessions” later, the bills are dead, a testament to the combined clout of $674 billion chemical industry, the companies that process their compounds into air fresheners, detergents, perfumes, cosmetics, toys, medical devices and other consumer goods, and the stores that sell them. Their campaign to block reform of the Toxic Substances Control Act won out over EPA’s support, an unprecedented campaign by public health advocates fueled by the industry’s own admissions that the current law does not fully protect public health.

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