At hearing, Rep. Whitfield steers clear of blasting climate science

Even if one believes “scary global warming scenarios,” Whitfield said, “the agency’s rules are no solution.”

“In fact, they are counterproductive, because these unilateral regulations would impose an unfair disadvantage on domestic manufacturers, and chase some of those manufacturing jobs to nations like China that have no such restrictions in place and no plans to institute them.”

Whitfield has questioned climate science in the past, including in the aftermath of the release of the so-called "Climate Gate" emails. The broad consensus among scientists is that climate change is happening and human beings are a major reason for it.

Whitfield’s comments underscore what is emerging as Republicans’ dominant counter-argument to EPA climate rules. Though many Republicans on the committee question climate science, the potential economic effect of the regulations is their major talking point.

On the other hand, Democrats on the committee, who requested Tuesday’s hearing, are zeroing in on science and public health to counter Republicans’ claims.

“Human-induced climate change is happening, we are already seeing its effects, and harm from climate change is growing,” full committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) said in his opening remarks.

And Waxman slammed climate skeptics, arguing they are putting public health at risk by seeking to block EPA’s climate regulations.

“If my doctor told me I had cancer, I wouldn’t scour the country to find someone to tell me that I don’t need to worry about it,” Waxman said. “Just because I didn’t feel gravely ill yet, I wouldn’t assume that my doctor was falsifying the data.”