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February 09, 2011

EPA Is a Public Health Agency

Environmental Protection Agency chief Lisa Jackson was impressive fielding questions from GOPers hellbent on burying the Clean Air Act and endangering the health of countless Americans.

"Last year alone, EPA’s implementation of the Clean Air Act saved more than 160,000 American lives; avoided more than 100,000 hospital visits; prevented millions of cases of respiratory illness, including bronchitis and asthma; enhanced American productivity by preventing millions of lost workdays; and kept American kids healthy and in school," Jackson said in her opening statement today before the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

The GOP controlled House is pushing a bill that would weaken safeguards and other tools used by the EPA to protect vast populations from dirty fuel's filthy carbon pollution and byproducts. Jackson answered questions for more than two hours. Some questions were pretty asinine. (Jackson was asked at one point about her opinion of supply and demand.) What backers of this bill don't seem to understand is that the EPA and the Clean Air Act protect public health in addition to the air, water, and the environment.

Unfortunately some committee members chose to attack climate science, which said more about them and the purpose of the hearing than about the science. Ironically, scientists haven't been invited to the hearing. The witness list of names invited to testify looks like an All-Star game roster of shills for the dirty-energy industry.

"I find it pretty stunning that they want to put our kids' health at risk, but won't produce one peer-reviewed piece of research that supports their conclusion," Rep. Jay Inslee said of the bill's backers.

Since the hearing today wasn't airing on C-SPAN, I watched the action on Twitter -- specifically Guardian reporter Suzanne Goldenberg, Grist's Dave Roberts, and Sierra Club's Maggie Kao. Last we checked, Rep. Joe Barton did not issue more apologies to dirty-energy representatives.

Update: The Bush administration's EPA took the same position as Jackson's three years ago.

-- Brian Foley

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