Monday, March 14, 2016

Arkansas environmental regulator dodges climate question

Posted By on Mon, Mar 14, 2016 at 7:01 AM

click to enlarge screen_shot_2016-03-14_at_6.29.27_am.png

You may have read news coverage of EPA-critical testimony before Congress last week by Becky Keogh, the Hutchinson administration  leader of the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality. A couple of points of interest weren't included in news articles.

Keogh, who joined state government from a job with BHP Billiton, a petroleum company, complained about federal environmental rules and deadlines. She suggested the federal agency wasn't cooperative with states. (Speaking of cooperation, Arkansas recently decided to halt any  work toward meeting new federal clean air rules in hopes a court will strike them down.)

You can watch the entire Senate hearing on C-SPAN. Some points to note:

At the 1:21:30 mark, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, a Rhode Island Democrat, questioned Keogh, among others, about climate change.

Whitehouse: Do carbon emissions from fossil fuel burning cause changes to our atmosphere and oceans that portend harm to people and ecosystems?

Keogh: I think you can find scientists that say both — yes and no.

What do you say?

Well, I am not an expert either, as the other witness indicated.
Whitehouse said every scientific institution he knew of would have answered this question with a "plain and simple, yes."

Keogh also was questioned by Sen. Barbara Boxer on her statement that an EPA official justified mandates to states by saying "because we can."

Keogh said she was disheartened and frustrated by additional EPA requirements on a plan to speed efforts to reduce haze. She elaborates on this at the 1:48 mark of the video.

At 1:58, Boxer asks Keogh

Can you please send me the name of the person who told you we are ordering you to do this because we can? I want the name of that person.

Boxer asked Keogh to put the name in writing to her, confidentially. I've asked the state agency whether she has done so.  Boxer also lectured the state officials on the benefits of the EPA in protecting the "health of our people."

Earlier (57-minute mark), Boxer pressed Keogh on the problems of states who get pollution from next-door states. She scoffed at Keogh's suggestion that states could cooperate on problems without EPA intervention.

Keogh's opening statement is at 37 minutes in the video.

UPDATE: I got this response a day later from the ADEQ on my question of whether Keogh had or would provide the name to Boxer and to the public.

We’re coordinating our response to Sen. Boxer’s request through Chairman Inhofe’s office.
I've asked a followup: Has she indeed provided the name to Sen. Inhofe and would she provide the name to Arkansas taxpayers.

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