When I first saw the Earth Day message from House GOP Leader John Boehner come across my Twitter feed, I almost thought it was a joke. Boehner's blog basically outlines the main argument for letting the Environmental Protection Agency move forward with regulations to limit global warming pollution: that for decades we have successfully regulated various pollutants and still massively grown the economy. Today's message describes the success of EPA's regulations since the first Earth Day (39 years ago):
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the six most common air pollutants have decreased by more than 50%; air toxins from large industrial sources have fallen nearly 70%; new cars are more than 90% cleaner, in terms of their emissions; and production of most ozone-depleting chemicals has ceased. These reductions have occurred despite the fact that during the same period, gross domestic product tripled, energy consumption increased 50%, and motor vehicle use increased almost 200%.
These are real improvements that all Americans can take pride in. They also demonstrate that protecting the environment and promoting economic growth do not have to be mutually exclusive goals. On the contrary, the last forty years have seen an explosion of economic growth and prosperity unparalleled in American history.
Yes, thanks, that's right! In spite of intense opposition from conservatives at nearly every step, we (read: EPA) have managed to significantly reduce pollution and still grow the economy--A LOT.
Yet, when EPA proposes beginning the process of addressing global warming pollution using precisely the same statute used to reduce most other air pollutants with precisely the same economic, cost-benefit considerations it has used over the past several decades, Boehner goes totally nuts! After the so-called "endangerment finding" finding was issued by EPA this past Friday, Boehner's blog said such regulations would be "disastrous for American families and small businesses."
Boehner also went on This Week with George Stephanopoulos on Sunday, in what turned out to be a widely panned appearance that erases any remaining doubt as to whether he doesn't really have any idea what he's talking about when it comes to global warming (start about 3:00 in):
Even the EPA felt the need to pile-on, leaping on Boehner's confused statement about whether carbon dioxide was a carcinogen or not:
An EPA spokesman called Boehner's comments "erroneous," noting that whether a gas is a carcinogen doesn't have anything to do with whether it causes global warming.
It seems Boehner's epic fail on This Week is one indication of a larger problem within his caucus. The Politico had a story yesterday on the GOP's "climate confusion":
Ask 15 Republicans about climate change, and you'll get 20 different answers.
Sounds about right.