Jeff Sessions Leaves EPA Chief Unable to Justify Money Grab

An activist dressed as a "Polar bear" displays a placard during a demonstration at the venue of the UN Climate Change Conference 2007 in Nusa Dua, on Bali island, 06 December 2007. About a dozen of environmental activists dressed up as polar bears took part in the demonstration to allure …
AFP PHOTO/Jewel Samad

At a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing, Senator Jeff Sessions grilled EPA chief Gina McCarthy and left her unable to justify her money grab, showing that she could not explain whether climate change models were correct or not.

The full transcript of the amazing exchange follows:

SESSIONS: I think EPA this year should be flat spending, or at least no more than 2.5 percent increase, you’re proposing a 6 percent increase. I mean, where does the money come from? Are you proposing to break the limitations?

McCARTHY: It is part of the president’s proposal, which is not going to buy into the bad policy of sequestration, but he’s designed the budget that can accommodate this. Senator, the one thing I want to say—

SESSIONS: Inflation rate in the United States is about 2 percent, so you want to have a three times the inflation rate increase in spending. I would suggest that when we go to our states, the group we have the most complaints about from our constituencies, whether it’s highway people, farmers, whether its energy people, is the Environmental Protection Agency. It’s an extraordinary overreach. You are apparently unaware of the pushback that’s occurring in the real world. I just want to tell you, I’m not inclined to increase your funding 6 percent above. 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 by Mr. Lomborg, who testified before the Budget Committee, from the Copenhagen Institute, and he quotes along with Dr. Pielke, from Colorado, that we’ve had fewer droughts in recent years. Do you dispute that?

McCARTHY: I don’t know in what context he’s making statements like that but I certainly can tell you about the droughts that are happening today.

SESSIONS: No, no, no, no. You can’t – I’m not arguing to you today that you are wrong about global warming because we have a cold spell. I’m asking you what are the data, don’t you know the worldwide data about whether or not we are having fewer or less droughts?

McCARTHY: I’m happy to provide it, but I certainly am aware that droughts are becoming more extreme and frequent.

SESSIONS: Are you aware that the IPCC has found that moisture content of the soil is, if anything, slightly greater than it has been over the last decades in their report? Are you aware of that?

McCARTHY: I don’t know what you’re referring to Senator, but I’m happy to respond—

SESSIONS: You need to know, because you’re asking this economy to sustain tremendous cost and you don’t know whether or not the soil worldwide is more moist or less moist?

McCARTHY: I don’t know, I don’t know where your cost figures are coming from, but if you take a look at—

SESSIONS: The IPCC. Second: what about hurricanes? We had more or less hurricanes in the last decade?

McCARTHY: There have been more frequent hurricanes and more intense. In terms of landing— those hurricanes on land, I cannot answer that question; it’s a very complicated issue.

SESSIONS: It’s not complicated about how many have landed; we’ve had a dramatic reduction in the number. We’ve had a decade without a hurricane class three or above.

McCARTHY: But sir, the scientists are not really considering that number to be significant. The subset is so small that you’re looking at, that you’re taking issues in science out of context. It’s not my job to be—

SESSIONS: Are you asserting that you have evidence that we have greater hurricanes around the world in the last decade than the previous decade?

McCARTHY: I am asserting that I have plenty of evidence, factual evidence from scientists who know this issue, that climate change is happening, it’s real, it’s happening now, and we need to take action to address it.

SESSIONS: Well, of course the climate is changing, Ms. McCarthy. I just asked you—you have been saying that there are more storms. Will you submit within a few days, it shouldn’t take long, to show we’ve had more storms in the last decade?

McCARTHY: I am able to submit all the science that we have. When you say we, what are you talking about? The U.S.?

SESSIONS: The world. The world.

McCARTHY: I am happy to submit the full breadth of science that we have behind climate; we’ve submitted it on many occasions, we’ll do it again.

SESSIONS: The full breadth of science? I’d just like some numbers. Would you acknowledge that over the last eighteen years, that the increase in temperature has been very little and that it is well below, as a matter of fact, ninety percent below most of the environmental models that showed how fast temperature would increase?

McCARTHY: No, I would not agree with that, sir. A one-degree temperature is significant. I don’t know what you’re looking at.

SESSIONS: No, no, no, no. I am asking you, is it below the models, or above the models?

McCARTHY: I do not know what the models actually are predicting that you’re referring to. There are many models.

SESSIONS: The head of the environmental—

McCARTHY: And sometimes it’s going faster, and sometimes slightly slower than the model predicts, but on the whole it makes no difference to the validity and the robustness of climate science that is telling us that we are facing an absolute challenge that we must address both environmentally, economically from a national security perspective, and for EPA, from a public health perspective.

SESSIONS: All right. Carbon pollution is CO2, and that’s really not a pollutant; that’s a plant food, and it doesn’t harm anybody except that it might include temperature increases. Let me ask you one more time: Are you asserting, just give me this answer; if you take the average of the models predicting how fast the temperature would increase, is the temperature in fact increasing less than that or more than that?

McCARTHY: I cannot answer that question specifically.

SESSIONS: Mr. Chairman, I would just say, this is a stunning development, that the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, who should know more than anybody else in the world, who’s proposing hundreds of billions of dollars in costs to prevent this climate and temperature increases, doesn’t know whether their projections have been right or wrong.


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