Meet the New Boss(es)

Congress is very responsive to the needs of the individual – the individual chairs of its committees, that is.  So to understand the direction of federal climate policy in its dual modes of regulation and research, it’s important to look closely at the incoming chairmen of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce (with jurisdiction over the EPA) and the House Committee on Science and Technology (which has jurisdiction over every federally funded science agency, including NASA).

In the Wall Street Journal, Fred Upton, the incoming Energy and Commerce chair, floats the possibility that regulating carbon is unnecessary while arguing that doing so will kill “millions of jobs” regardless.  Perhaps that statistic was provided by his co-author, Tim Philips, president of Americans for Prosperity, a free-market think tank.  There will likely be an assault on the regulatory authority of the EPA by his committee.

It’s more difficult to predict the effect Ralph Hall, the new Science and Technology chair, will have on climate research.  He’s predisposed towards protecting NASA funding (the Johnson Space Center is located near Houston). However, in an unambiguously hostile move, Hall is appointing James Sensenbrenner to chair a subcommittee to interrogate climate scientists:

Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., can be expected to hold hearings that question “uncertainties” in climate-change science that impact public policy, said John Mimikakis, a former deputy chief of staff for the science committee. Sensenbrenner recently referred to the scientific consensus on global warming as a “massive international scientific fraud.”

“I’m interested in the truth on that,” Hall said. “There are a lot of people who believe that a lot of decisions were made on the false statements of others.

“I’ll try to find out who those others are, and ask them to come before the committee,” he said. “And if they don’t come before the committee, well, we might subpoena them.”

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