Lamar Smith: Government Regulations on Climate Change Are Ineffective

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Bekah McNeel / Rivard Report

U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith visits the School of Science and Technology in February 2016.

Under Donald Trump’s administration, many fear that protections put in place by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) could be in jeopardy. The new president’s statements in favor of decreased regulations have emboldened lawmakers who have sought for years to scale back the agency’s reach.

One such lawmaker is U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), chair of the Science, Space, and Technology Committee. A longtime proponent of decreased environmental regulation, Smith has publicly asserted that the degree to which humans influence climate change has been overstated by “the liberal media.”

“The media’s credibility is at a new low — and it’s self-inflicted. That’s because they have set out on a maniacal mission to destroy anyone who doesn’t bow to their political views,” a statement on Smith’s website reads.

Smith also claims that scientists have fabricated climate change information in order to support EPA regulations.

“In the summer of 2015, whistleblowers alerted the Committee that the Karl study [2015 climate change study] was rushed to publication before underlying data issues were resolved to help influence public debate about the so-called Clean Power Plan and upcoming Paris climate conference,” reads Smith’s statement from Feb. 5, 2017, on the Science, Space, and Technology Committee’s website.

The statement was made in response to the testimony of John Bates, a scientist formerly with NOAA. According to the New York Times, Bates’ testimony was “amplified and sensationalized” by climate change deniers worldwide.

The Rivard Report recently published a letter addressed to Smith from David Lake, principal architect with Lake|Flato Architects. Lake’s letter pointed out the scientific facts that have motivated the billion dollar Green Building construction industry to improve the national housing stock.

Lake’s article came in response to a hearing called by the Science, Space and Technology Committee entitled “Making the EPA Great Again.” The witnesses at the hearing largely represented the energy industry. Lake urged Smith to listen to the scientific community in order to “create a more secure future for our citizens.”

Smith responded to Lake’s letter with the following:

Dear David,

Many thanks for writing. And I welcome the opportunity to clear up some misconceptions about my view of climate change.

Nothing I have said or written should give you the impression that I deny carbon emissions have an impact on global warming. I can only guess that you are relying on a very biased liberal media for your information, which is regrettable.

My preferred way to address climate change is through research and development and technology and innovations. This approach contrasts with government mandates, which are inefficient and ineffective and distort the incentives of the free market to solve the problem.

For instance, if the nearly 200 countries that signed the Paris climate agreement fully implemented their proposed plans, all their efforts together would reduce global warming by only one-sixths of a degree Celsius. That’s the definition of costly and ineffective.

Instead, we should unleash the determination and creativity of the private sector, sometimes in conjunction with the government, which has always solved our country’s challenges in the past. These hurdles that we have cleared include poverty, disease, hunger, poor transportation, and slow communication. I feel that the U.S. will continue to make technological breakthroughs, especially in the area of climate change, which will prove more productive than government regulations.

Sincerely,

Lamar Smith

10 thoughts on “Lamar Smith: Government Regulations on Climate Change Are Ineffective

  1. Liberal media? Maybe because you have to focus on the questions and seek out answers. And to be responsive to the answers you have to be open minded. All education requires you to be open minded or else you will not be responsive to learn. Maybe that is why advanced educators & creative people are often liberal. Lamar Smith’s reality is not my reality.

  2. “Costly and inefficient” are his concerns. Has he or others on the Science, Space, & Technology Committee heard studies, or even asked for studies, on the cost of climate change over time, such as impact studies on economic costs of climate change on real estate and construction industries, fishing and agriculture, tourism for coastal communities, oil industry (which are heavily invested in ocean-based drilling)? Has a study been done on climate change costs for naval bases? Seeking solutions to problems proactively, instead of waiting for the problem to force action, seems efficient and cost effective. Living in the San Antonio-Austin area, we watch populations in area cities and towns increase rapidly, and all studies indicate this growth will continue, yet infrastructure, including energy, roads, schools, and water sources, take time to plan and build, so we remain always behind. We won’t have the time to legislate, plan, and build if we wait much longer on climate change.

    • His little board of non-scientists exists to try to discredit science that is seen as being harmful to big corporations. For example, they publish ‘white papers’ that question validity of peer reviewed research on chemicals that may cause cancer. These are papers written by chemical company employees which mostly talk about how unnecessary regulations are.

  3. What a demeaning and dismissive tone for a public servant to take in response to one of his constituents, a constituent that voiced the concerns of many, many others whom Rep. Smith represents.

    Perhaps Smith has been spending more time listening to his political patrons at Exxon, Chevron, Shell, and BP. The New Yorker reported that Smith “received more than six hundred thousand dollars in campaign contributions from the oil-and-gas industry during his time in Congress.”

  4. Actually I see some progress here.

    1. You admit carbon is causing climate change.

    2. You want tech (ie new energy) to solve the problem.

    So what is your proposal?

    How about this:

    Let’s get to a level playing field. Remove ALL subsidies for oil/gas and renewables (surprise – they are much bigger for oil/gas). And let’s make sure no one can offload real costs freely. If carbon is bad, should you be able to just spew it free of charge? Let’s make it a fair market. Any free market economist will say externalities such as these must be priced. So…remove all subsidies, tax carbon. Just like your smart, data driven GOP friends are pushing for: http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2017/02/08/gop-climate-group-tries-to-warm-white-house-to-carbon-tax/ (even gave you a Murdoch media source!)

    How about a town hall to discuss all this?

  5. I am more hopeful after reading the letter. I think the most intriguing problem remains the voices of oil, gas, and coal interests that remind me of the tobacco industry years ago. “Not yet, too much, are we sure?” They know the answer but are hoping that their paycheck will continue during their lifetime. No wonder young people wonder when it will be time to be honest. Honest instead of listening to those who pay for your re-election.

  6. Hopefully Lamar Smith is the wake-up call complacent voters finally acknowledge when their air become unbreathable and their water undrinkable. For whatever reason the majority of Republicans seem to think clean air and water isn’t important for life on earth. Fact: Gated Communities do not protect one from a polluted environment.

  7. How will the free market ever incentivize for-profit industries to “solve the problem” of climate change? With weakened environmental regulations no incentives are out there to encourage a company to reduce their own toxic emissions and stop poisoning their neighbors.

    Before a free market can happen, some rules have to be in place to set up the playing field and stave off anarchy and uphold the US Constitution. First the bar needs to be set high to protect our collective health, safety and wellfare needs, before for-profit industries are allowed to run free with innovation.

    Environmental protection is the same as a nation providing its citizens with bare necessities like police protection, fire departments, interstate highways and traffic lights. There’s nothing financially appealing about fire and life safety building codes but they’re just plain necessary in order for a nation to go about its business indoors.

    Environmental protection can’t be commodified into a for-profit industry. You can’t force an obligation for health, safety and welfare to compete alongside heavily subsidized industries like fossil fuels.

    Past “hurdles” we’ve overcome that Smith mentions couldn’t have been successful without some major government intervention, research and development – NASA sure has helped the communications industry be what it is today. Subsidies sure have helped the fossil fuel and transportation industry be what it is today. CCC and WPA sure did a lot to help put people to work when the free market failed everyone.

  8. Lamar Smith said:
    “For instance, if the nearly 200 countries that signed the Paris climate agreement fully implemented their proposed plans, all their efforts together would reduce global warming by only one-sixths of a degree Celsius.”

    That statement is so obviously false it makes me want to scream. It depends on time frame. Maybe Lamar Smith is talking about next year. Temperatures will keep rising with the business as usual scenario. IPCC AR5 projects temperature rises of 3-6 C by the end of the century. The objective of COP 21 is to keep it below 1.5 C, which is now believed to be impossible. 2 C, a more realistic target be OK but still not good. 3-6 C would be very bad. Read the IPCC AR5 summary report for details.

    Lamar Smith is a science-denying fool regardless of what he would have you believe in his lying letter.

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