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Monday, May 23, 2011 

Issa returns to blasting EPA for Big Oil

 

Tomorrow, EPA administrator Lisa Jackson will be testifying for Issa about what Issa has termed suppression domestic oil and gas production. It won't be the first time that Darrell Issa has zeroed in on the EPA -- previously it was a hearing essentially claiming that clean air and clean water protections can't exist if we also want to create jobs.
 
Darrell Issa has a long and antagonistic history with many issues and government agencies, but the Environmental Protection Agency is likely at the top of the list. The EPA's efforts to regulate clean air and water provided Issa with early fodder as the new chair of the Oversight Committee, and his general hostility towards the EPA have been well documented. Before he began his steady stream of hearings, it was clear to observers that the EPA would be a top priority, with an environmental lobbyist noting that "They have made it clear they are going to go hog-wild in investigating the EPA."
 
It's tricky timing for Issa, just a week after President Obama proposed a major expansion of drilling in Alaska, and less than a month after Issa provided major oil company campaign contributors with their very own pro-drilling Congressional Hearing without any concern for the bias or stunning conflict of interest.
 
The EPA has one of the strongest track records of success in the federal government through its 40 year history, but Issa has been battling with their environmental protections for years. Last year before the election that gave Issa control of the committee, he singled out "politicization of science" as a top priority for oversight. If you aren't conversant in Issa-speak, what Issa meant was hearings questioning the science of climate change. In his aspirational narrative, a partisan hearing on scientific consensus would somehow help remove politics from the equation.
 
Before that, Issa was doing everything he could to prevent California from getting tough about high-polluting cars. He strongly opposed California's efforts to institute tougher emissions regulations, and used his perch in the minority of the Oversight Committee to target senior EPA officials for not also opposing the effort.
 
The contention on California's right to regulate its own air has continued into 2011. Mary Nichols, the head of California's Air Resource Board, has been pushing back against industry groups who oppose the state's proposed regulations. Industry groups -- wisely based on his track record with the committee so far -- have focused on Issa, chiming in when Issa asked corporate interests to choose his committee agenda.
 
Issa continues his Big Oil crusade tomorrow, zeroing in on the EPA and the Department of Interior. It comes barely a year after the catastrophic Gulf Oil Spill that came after Issa had been tasked with overseeing those operations. And it comes just weeks after new "fracking" technologies touted by Issa and his Big Oil campaign donors/committee witnesses spilled "thousands and thousands of gallons" of drilling fluid and its toxic chemicals into the Pennsylvania countryside.
 
It's the same old story, and we can likely expect the same old behavior from Darrell Issa: Carrying water for his Big Oil supporters and the big checks they write, and blasting the Environmental Protection Agency yet again for... protecting the environment.

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