Catching anyone’s attention these days in the hypermedia universe is tough. I suspect a little search-engine optimization in the U.S. Senate invitations extended to four former Environmental Protection Agency chiefs who served Republican presidents.
Leading the delegation of past EPA administrators was William Ruckelshaus, the first to carry the title. He was appointed by President Nixon, and served again under President Reagan.
The collective message presented to a U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works subcommittee was elemental for most Democrats and heretical for many Republicans: climate change is real, and the federal government has the responsibility and legal authority to respond to the hazards.
Democrats are looking for all the leverage they can muster to help promote and legitimize President Obama’s climate-change initiative to reduce carbon pollution in the United States. He is invoking established authority within the EPA to proceed on controversial programs, such as reducing emissions from coal-fired plants. The regulations could shut some plants down.
Partisan tensions, hardly a scarce commodity on Capitol Hill, are building with intense lobbying by the power and coal industries. The appearance of supportive EPA chiefs with GOP roots is its own form of partisan pushback by Democrats:
“The four former EPA administrators sitting in front of you found we were convinced by the overwhelming verdict of scientists that the Earth was warming and that we humans were the only controllable contributor to this phenomenon,.” Ruckelshaus told the committee, according to a story by Chris Adams, of the McClatchy Washington Bureau.
The other past administrators before the panel were Christine Todd Whitman, a former governor of New Jersey who ran the EPA under President George W. Bush; Lee Thomas, who served under Reagan; and William Reilly, who served under President George H.W. Bush.
Whitman put an exclamation point on the authority of the EPA to deal with carbon pollution: “…The law says so and the Supreme Court has said so twice. The matter should be put to rest.”