Hearing green (and blue)

If congressional hearings are an indication of what’s on the nation’s mind, all 304 million of us must be focusing on green issues. And blue.

The day kicked off with a blue tone in the Senate with “The Blue Economy: The Role of Oceans in our Nation’s Economic Future.” It was an appropriate choice, coming on the heels of yesterday’s “World Oceans Day.”

Water is Earth’s great storyteller. Alexandra Cousteau

The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, heard testimony from several witnesses, including Alexandra Cousteau, granddaughter of the iconic Jacques Cousteau, the man who introduced a generation of Americans to he wonders of the sea. (Full disclosure: I met Alexandra when we were both speakers at a dive conference and remain friends with her and her extraordinary family.)


Cousteau ended her testimony by reminding the committee that “Water… is the mark of sustainability in a culture and is where we will feel the effects of climate change first. Unless we begin to work together to build a shared focus on this blue planet as a single hydrosphere, we will never build the kind of momentum it takes to leverage real and long-term change.”

Her testimony is available as a pdf file here. For the full Webcast, go here.

Another important hearing is ongoing on important and controversial aspects of the Waxman-Markey bill (HR 2454) on climate and energy policy (American Clean Energy and Security Act). The hearing is burdened with the title: Allowance Allocation Policies in Climate Legislation:  Assisting Consumers, Investing in a Clean Energy Future, and Adapting to Climate Change.” Chairman Waxman’s opening statement is here. The audio portion of the hearing is live here, and if you’d rather follow the hearing via twitter updates, reporter Meaghan McNamara is live-tweeting it (#ACES).

Still want more? Go to It’s Too Easy Being Green: Defining Fair Green Marketing Practices, a hearing before the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection. It’s still being Webcast here. (As of 12:40 PM in DC.)

Dr. Urvashi Rangan, Consumers Union

Dr. Urvashi Rangan, Consumers Union

Dr. Urvahsi Rangan of Consumers Union, testified that the government has an interest in ensuring that products labeled green actually are. Her prepared remarks are here.

Who watches the watchdog who watches the watchdog?

Um, I guess that’s what journalists are supposed to do. (That and work on a new business model.)

The final watchdog in the heading above is the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which had, in recent years, believed that it wasn’t a watchdog at all, but a lapdog.

EPA Chief Lisa Jackson

EPA Chief Lisa Jackson

How have things changed since the Dark Time (2001-2009)? Have they changed? Will they change more? Those were some of the questions discussed this morning (or evaded, depending on your POV) at the Senate hearing, “Scientific Integrity and Transparency Reforms at the Environmental Protection Agency.”

In her prepared remarks (here), EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson assured committee members of the EPA’s “deep commitment to scientific integrity.”

One witness expressed mild caution in giving government too much power over environmental regulation. Dr. Kenneth Green, of the conservative think-tank, the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), wrote more aggressively about this and other cautionary tales in National Review Online.

In a 2006 piece titled “Clouds of Global-Warming Hysteria,” Green warned that the regulatory agenda behind fighting global warming was not what it appeared to be.

“One-worlders and other socialist sorts,” he wrote,”have seen the potential for finally giving the U.N. control over all the ‘commanding heights’ of the world by giving them control of a key driver of development.”

Environmentalists are even worse. According to Green, enviros “see greenhouse-gas controls as a way to starve out the tumor of humanity.”

Green was a perfect foil for Jackson: If the nutters are against her, Jackson must be fine.

And perhaps she is good, but we’ll only know by how well she lives up to the high standards of transparency and de-politicization she mentioned in her testimony.

We’ll return to this subject, so check back. You can also watch the recorded Webcast of the hearing here.

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