(Video above: Sen. Jeff Sessions grills EPA chief Gina McCarthy)
WASHINGTON — Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) grilled Obama’s EPA chief during a hearing before the Senate Environment and Public Works committee Wednesday for her inability to justify the EPA’s huge budget increase request or even say whether the agency’s climate change models have been correct.
The Obama administration is requesting a 6% increase for the EPA’s budget this year, which Sen. Sessions pointed out was well above the rate of inflation.
President Obama-appointed EPA Chief Gina McCarthy argued that global climate change makes the additional appropriations necessary, despite the fact that the proposed budget violates the 2011 Budget Control act, a.k.a. “Sequestration,” which she called “bad policy.”
“When we go to our states,” Sen. Sessions replied, “the group we have the most complaints about from our constituents—whether it’s highway people, whether it’s farmers, whether it’s energy people—is the Environmental Protection Agency. It’s an [agency of] extraordinary overreach. And you apparently are unaware of the pushback that’s occurring in the real world.”
“I just want to tell you that I’m not inclined to increase your spending to 6% above [the previous year],” Sen. Sessions continued.
“So now you say that we’ve got a crisis and there are dangers out there. Let me ask you this. There was an article from Mr. [Bjorn] Lomborg… from the Copenhagen Institute. He says, along with Dr. Pielke from Colorado, that we’ve had fewer droughts in recent years. Do you dispute that?”
“I don’t know in what context he’s making statements like that…” McCarthy answered.
Sen. Sessions went on to ask about the number of powerful hurricanes making landfall in the last decade, another question McCarthy was unable to answer.
Sen. Sessions, who acknowledged that the climate is changing, then asked McCarthy if, with all the taxpayer money going to fund the EPA in recent years, has the agency been able to make accurate predictions concerning the level of warming.
“Would you acknowledge that over the last 18 years,” Sessions asked, “that the increase in temperature has been very little, and that it is well below, matter of fact 90 percent below most of the environmental models that showed how fast temperature would increase?”
“I do not know what the models actually are predicting that you are referring to,” McCarthy responded.
“This is a stunning development,” Sessions shot back, “that the head of the Environmental Protection Agency—who should know more than anybody else in the world, who is imposing hundreds of billions of dollars in cost to prevent this climate temperature increase—doesn’t know whether their projections have been right or wrong.”
Sen. Sessions isn’t the only member of the Alabama congressional delegation to take on the EPA in recent weeks.
Last week newly-elected Congressman Gary Palmer unloaded on an EPA representative for the agency’s tendency to “operate like a police state,” investigating possible environmental violations in SWAT gear, carrying military-style weapons.
Last year the EPA came under increased scrutiny from GOP members of Congress when the agency passed new regulations requiring states to make severe—and possibly cost prohibitive—cuts to CO2 emissions.
One study suggests the new rules could increase electricity rates in Alabama by 20%, and cost the state thousands of jobs.
In 2015, the EPA is asking for a $8.6 billion budget—an increase of $452 million over the previous year. Much of the agency’s budget would go toward enforcing the new carbon emissions rules, including rewarding states who go along with their mandates.
Check out the entire heated interaction between Sen. Sessions and EPA chief Gina McCarthy in the video above.
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— Elizabeth BeShears (@LizEBeesh) January 21, 2015