President Obama has allowed environmental extremists to take over White House policy, according to Sen. Rand PaulRand PaulLawmaker seeks to investigate Obama's foreign tax compliance law Funding bill rejected as shutdown nears GOP senators hit FBI on early probe of NY bombing suspect MORE (R-Ky.).
Environmental groups have frequently battled the Obama administration and launched a protest Sunday at the White House gates, but Paul insisted the president has allowed them to take over government.
“My concern is that the president has allowed radicals to take over the administration, has allowed environmental extremists to take over policy — and as a consequence we are losing jobs,” the Tea Party favorite said in a floor speech.
“[I] am afraid what has happened is we have opened up the White House and this administration to environmental extremists, the kind of people who say, ‘Well the polar bears are drowning,’” he said.
Paul’s floor comments come ahead of a Senate vote on controversial legislation the senator has proposed to roll back an Environmental Protection Agency regulation that penalizes states for allowing air pollution to drift into bordering states. In his speech Paul argued that air quality has improved drastically during the last decade without the onerous rule, which is expected to cost energy producers billions of dollars to reach compliance.
At one point Paul questioned the American Lung Associations’ (ALA) conclusion that pollution is behind a rise in asthma and suggested the $5 million in funding it takes from the EPA each year might be bending the results of its studies.
Sen. Barbara BoxerBarbara BoxerDems gain upper hand on budget Overnight Finance: Senate rejects funding bill as shutdown looms | Labor Dept. to probe Wells Fargo | Fed to ease stress test rules for small banks Funding bill rejected as shutdown nears MORE (D-Calif.) demanded an apology from Paul for the ALA assertion.
“I think the senator owes an apology to the ALA for making it sound like they are for air pollution rules because they are getting some sort of payoff,” she said, her voice rising. “It’s an outrage, a complete outrage.”
Boxer said the rule Paul seeks to wipe out prevents early deaths, asthma attacks and lost work and school days.
Sen. Jeff SessionsJeff Sessions3 ways the next president can succeed on immigration reform Funding bill rejected as shutdown nears Trump, Clinton discuss counterterrorism with Egyptian president MORE (R-Ala.), however, argued the EPA is grossly overstating the health effects of pollution.
“Are we to believe that 10 percent of all United States deaths are attributable to pollution from power plants?” Sessions asked. “[I]t’s clear that the EPA … they’re playing fast and loose, and they’re manipulating data, it seems to me, pretty clearly.”
Paul’s resolution is not expected to win approval.