Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson faced members from a sub-committee of House Energy and Commerce on Wednes regarding her agency’s budget request of $8.3 billion dollars for fiscal year 2013. Ms. Jackson’s request is part of the Obama administration’s $3.8 trillion proposed budget plan.
Congressman Brian Bilbray, California Republican, a member of the sub-committee grilled Ms. Jackson over the amount of spending the her agency has engaged in but first responded to the committee’s ranking member Rep. Edward Markey, Massachusetts Democrat, who first said during an exchange with Administrator Jackson:
“So from the perspective of this debate, the Republicans want to keep the oil tax breaks at $4 billion a year on the books for oil companies even though they made $137 billion last year and put an infinity sign next to what the oil companies are going to make this year, but those tax breaks stay on the books,” Mr. Markey then added, “They’re advocating an expiration of the tax breaks for wind industry this year which is going to lead to it’s collapse. And it’s all part of an ongoing profile that basically is a rearview mirror view of how powerful America can be technologically and telling Saudi Arabia and OPEC we don’t need their oil anymore than we need.”
Rep. Bilbray then responded to Rep. Markey’s comments saying:
“The gentleman from Massachusetts was giving us a history lesson and I’d like to remind him in 1995, I introduced a bill that was to eliminate the mandate that ethanol had to be in the fuel stream, and his own state of Massachusetts supported the California reformulated gasoline as cheaper and cleaner than the federal mandated.”
“Every member of the California delegation—every member supported that legislation except for the ranking member of this committee, because the deals that were cut in Washington were more important than energy independence or about clean air,” Bilbray added.
Congressman Bilbray then set his sights on Administrator Jackson. He asked her, “But going back to what was the percentage of the CAFÉ standard increase that we mandated in the last few years…total?
Jackson told the committee that the EPA managed to “double the fuel economy” under the current administration.
Mr. Bilbray then criticized Jackson along with other federal, state and local government offcials for not taking enough responsibility in the area of their of traffic management and control to reduce fuel consumption and efficiency.
“How much in your budget today requires governments to do more to help traffic managements and fuel efficiency through traffic control. We don’t have any requirements on traffic control. So in other words, it’s easy for those of us in government to point fingers at the private sector and say, ‘you have to make your cars more fuel efficient.’ And we’ve got studies coming out of places like the University of Kansas that shows the 22.6 percent of all emissions and fuel consumptions is inappropriate traffic control,” Mr. Bilbray said.
Mr. Bilbray explained “stop signs that could be yield signs” and “round-abouts that would replace stop signs” would be an improvement. “But in your budget, your walking away from the opportunity of reducing fuel consumption and pollution by 22.6 percent because we’re focused on a mandate on the private sector but not asking those of us in our own fellow local government agencies to clean up our act and stop requiring consumers to stop every two blocks, because we just find it easier to do that,” he said.
“I mean, oh my God, ma’am. You can’t find it easier to do that. You can’t even get the blinking lights in Congress out here to be turned to amber behind this building. You’ve got a stop sign, just because it’s easier for government to say, ‘No, you got to stop here, rather than be intelligent,’” Bilbray added.
Secretary Jackson finally responded that she could only refer Mr. Bilbray to the Department of Transportation regarding his concerns about traffic management.