- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 21, 2012

March 2 should be a date that lives in infamy for the Obama Environmental Protection Agency.

That day will most likely be the last opportunity for congressional Republicans to apply meaningful pressure on EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson as she testifies before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on the agency’s 2013 budget.

Over the past three years, the Obama EPA has conducted a scorched earth campaign against fossil fuel producers and users, especially the coal-fired power industry, with multibillion-dollar rules that provide no meaningful environmental or public-health benefits, like the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule and the Mercury Air Toxics Standard (MATS).

The EPA will soon propose its greenhouse gas emission standards for power plants - rules that will attempt to make it financially impossible to construct new coal-fired power plants in the United States.

It seems that President Obama was deadly serious when he told the San Francisco Chronicle in January 2008, “So if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can; it’s just that it will bankrupt them because they’re going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that’s being emitted.”

And while nothing short of a change of administration will change the fate of coal-fired power in the United States, Senate Republicans should use the March 2 Senate hearing as an opportunity to put Ms. Jackson on the hot seat.

To stoke their blood pressure, Republican committee members should remember that Ms. Jackson has delivered numerous speeches and written newspaper Op-Eds over the past year denouncing Republicans as trying to sicken and kill hundreds of thousands of Americans.

Last October, for example, Ms. Jackson wrote in the Los Angeles Times, “Since the beginning of this year, Republicans in the House have averaged roughly a vote every day the chamber has been in session to undermine the EPA and our nation’s environmental laws. … How we respond to this assault on our environmental and public health protections will mean the difference between sickness and health - in some cases, life and death - for hundreds of thousands of citizens.”

Ms. Jackson has taken the gloves off, and it’s time for Sen. Jim Inhofe, Oklahoma Republican, the ranking minority member on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, to whip his team into shape and to do the same for this final showdown before the election.

GOP committee members will first need to inoculate themselves against Ms. Jackson’s charms. They may like her personally, but her agency’s junk science-fueled regulatory war against American jobs, families, businesses and the economy as a whole ought to transcend any warm and cuddly feelings. There is nothing to be gained from the one-way respect and collegiality that allows her to lie, temporize and filibuster her way out of answering tough questions.

Next, GOP committee members need to internalize the reality that American air is already clean and safe, and was so before the Frankenstein that is the Obama EPA came to life. There is no one being harmed by ambient air quality in America and the EPA cannot produce anyone that has been harmed.

JunkScience.com, for example, obtained through the Freedom of Information Act emergency hospital admissions data for 2010-11 from the large Department of Veterans Affairs hospital in West Los Angeles. The data show no correlation between hospital admissions for asthma and air quality measurements for ground-level ozone (smog) and fine particulate matter (soot) in Los Angeles, which supposedly has some of the “worst” air quality in America.

Finally, committee members need to be aware of the massive scientific conflict-of-interest going on in the EPA air office. The EPA not only commissions research that fits its agenda, it then pays the reviewers who rubber-stamp the quality of that research. The EPA also allows its researchers to deny outside scientists access to key data that would allow confirmation of claimed results.

The dubiousness of this process and EPA air quality science in general is best exposed and debunked by a recent study published in the U.S. government journal Environmental Health Perspectives. That study shockingly reported that air quality in the Chinese city of Xi’an, one of the dirtiest cities in the world, is safer than the air in U.S. cities. Either air pollution is not as harmful as the EPA asserts or the agency’s self-funded multitude of statistical analyses on air quality are suspect - or both.

No doubt Ms. Jackson will try to deflect questions about the probity of EPA science by saying that scores of “independent” researchers can’t possibly be wrong, or worse, part of a conspiracy. But bought-and-paid-for statistics based on secret data really ought to raise a Republican eyebrow.

At a recent House hearing on the EPA MATS rule, Rep. Joe Barton, Texas Republican, successfully interrogated EPA air chief Lisa McCarthy into stunned silence about the absence of health effects from power plant mercury emissions - a dramatic first. Coach Inhofe should get the video for his team.

Steve Milloy publishes JunkScience.com and is the author of “Green Hell: How Environmentalists Plan to Control Your Life and What You Can Do to Stop Them” (Regnery, 2009).

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