EPA’s chief administrator unaware of climate data showing no extreme weather

mccarthy2Gina McCarthy, the EPA‘s chief administrator, was recently excoriated by members of the senate for not knowing whether “extreme weather” is actually occurring, getting worse, or lessening.

In a humiliating performance before Senators on the Environment and Public Works Committee, McCarthy was up on the hill justifying a proposal that asks for nearly $500 million increase for its 2016 budget.

McCarthy’s request for an $8.6 billion discretionary budget for fiscal year 2016 left many senators befuddled, since some of the funding increase would be dedicated to Obama’s controversial Clean Power Plan, an initiative to limit carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions that are blamed for any type of extreme weather.

It would also reward states nearly $4 billion that go along with the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, which aims to reduce CO2 from power plants by at least 30 percent over the next 15 years.

McCarthy said the overall goal was to save the planet from rising sea levels, superstorms, and other climate-change catastrophes.

“Climate change is real. It is happening. It is a threat. Humans are causing the majority of that threat … the impacts are already being felt,” she said. “Climate change is not a religion. It is not a belief system. It’s a science fact. And our challenge is to move forward with the actions we need to protect future generations.”

“Ms. McCarthy and her Democratic allies in Congress counter that doomsday economic scenarios haven’t come to pass as a result of past EPA regulations and will be proven false this time, too.”

Just don’t tell that to Massachusetts’ electric utility customers. Eversource energy, which provides electricity to most of Massachusetts and many parts of New England, said “consumer’s bills would go up about 29 percent, or $26, starting January 2015 for the average family each month.”

But now that customers have gotten their January and February bills, they’ve noticed they are paying far more than an extra $26. According to WWLP.com:

“22News spoke with Eversource spokeswoman Priscilla Ress. She wouldn’t speak on camera, but said the families who heat with electricity are noticing the biggest increase from last January’s bill.

“This significantly colder winter requires more electricity to keep the house warm. The 14 cent-per-kilowatt-hour rate increases by a penny after using 600 kilowatts per hour.

“Many viewers said they were confused and overwhelmed by the long list of charges on their bill, including one that said a rate increased by about 69 percent.

WWLP’s I-Team broke down a typical Massachusetts electric bill and found that:

“The supply rate increased from 8 cents to more than 14 cents per kilowatt hour. That’s about a 60% increase when they were told it would only go 30% higher.”

In fact, electricity prices have been rising steadily since 2014 as more and more of the nation’s coal plants are shuttered or retrofitted to meet the EPA’s onerous regulations under Obama’s Clean Power Plan. Democrats and Republicans have both criticized the plan, saying it would “drive coal-powered electricity from existence.”

During her testimony (video) to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing, McCarthy spent some of her time sparring with Senator Jeff Sessions when he questioned her about the underlying data on droughts, hurricanes, and temperature.

Sessions remarked that most of the complaints he gets are from his constituents about the EPA, specifically its “extraordinary overreach. [Something] you apparently are unaware of the pushback that’s occurring in the real world.”

Sessions then asked McCarthy if she was aware that, “we’ve had fewer droughts in recent years. Do you dispute that?”

McCarthy replied, “I don’t know in what context (a scientist) is making statements like that…”

Sessions: “I’m asking you what other data you know about … world-wide data about whether we are having fewer or less droughts?”

McCarthy: “I’d be happy to provide it, but I certainly am aware that droughts are becoming more extreme and frequent.”

Sessions: “Are you aware that the IPCC has found that moisture content of the soil is, if anything, slightly greater than it has been over the last decade. It’s in their report, are you aware of that?”

McCarthy: “I don’t know what you’re referring to, senator, but I’m happy to respond …”

Sessions, apparently shocked by McCarthy’s lack of knowledge on which she is basing her decisions, replied, “Well you need to know because you’re asking this economy to sustain tremendous costs and you don’t know whether the soil worldwide is more moist or less moist.”

Sessions then turned his attention to ‘extreme weather,’ a term used by the Obama administration to justify taking urgent action on climate change.

Hurricane data is available to anyone with an Internet connection and is notable because no Cat-3 or higher hurricane has made landfall in the U.S. in the past 10 years, the longest running stretch since the Civil War.

Sessions: “What about hurricanes. Have we had more or less hurricanes in the last decade?”

McCarthy: “In terms of landing those hurricanes on land, I cannot answer that question. It’s a very complicated issue.”

Sessions: “It’s not complicated on how many have landed. We’ve had a dramatic reduction in the number. We’ve gone a decade without a hurricane [Category] 3 or above. … Would you acknowledge that over the last 18 years, that the increase in temperature has been very little, and that it is well below, matter of fact 90 percent below most of the environmental models that showed how fast temperature would increase?”

McCarthy: “No I would not agree with that, sir. A one degree temperature is significant.

Sessions: “No, I’m asking you is it above the models or below the models?”

McCarthy: “I do not know what the models actually are predicting that you are referring to …”

But apparently she does know what models Sessions is referring to when McCarthy then goes on to say, “Sometimes it’s actually going faster and sometimes slightly slower than the model predicts, but on the whole it makes no difference to the validity and the robustness of climate science that is telling us that we are facing an absolute challenge that we must address. … And from the EPA, from a public health perspective.”

After some more back and forth, and apparently frustrated by McCarthy’s intentional obtuseness, Sessions replied, “This is a stunning development, that the head of the Environmental Protection Agency–who should know more than anybody else in the world, who is imposing hundreds of billions of dollars in costs to prevent this climate and temperature increases–doesn’t know whether their projections have been right or wrong.”