“Issa fired off a 13-page letter to Nichols the other day demanding answers to questions that sometimes take on a have-you-stopped-beating-your-wife tone.”
Syndicated columnist Thomas Elias whines about Congressional scrutiny of the California Air Resourecs Board (CARB):
Climate change skepticism by one congressman among California’s 53 ordinarily wouldn’t matter much. But coming from Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, it’s now leading to one of the most significant attacks ever on California’s top smog-fighting agency — the state Air Resources Board…
For Issa’s committee has legal authority to investigate anything and subpoena anyone short of the president and his immediate aides.
That includes Mary Nichols, chief of the Air Resources Board, which has had some recent problems but still has made the world’s most important contributions to clean air,
clean cars and clean industry. Issa fired off a 13-page letter to Nichols the other day demanding answers to questions that sometimes take on a have-you-stopped-beating-your-wife tone.
It’s all about the role Nichols and the Air Resources Board played in spurring national fuel economy standards for cars and light trucks for the upcoming model years 2017-2025. Underlying is the fact the 1971 federal Clean Air Act, originally signed by Republican President Richard Nixon, gives the Air Resources Board authority to enact regulations tougher than any federal standards…
Among Issa’s questions to Nichols:
Do you believe that a closed and secretive process is the best approach for regulating (the automobile industry)?
Under what express statutory authority is California setting fuel economy standards, a task delegated to (Transportation)?
Do you believe that when Congress enacted the Clean Air Act, (it) intended California regulators to establish fuel economy standards for the national fleet?
Issa is correct that no one can mandate serious cuts to emissions without also increasing gas mileage. Here’s a question for him: Does he really think the authors of the Clean Air Act and its several revisions and renewals didn’t know that and intend the Air Resources Board’s actions to have that effect?
Issa’s committee has the power to expose wrongdoing of all kinds and maybe he thinks that’s what he’s doing here. But his actions could also set him up as a foe of America’s efforts to become energy self-sufficient. Does he really want that as a legacy?
The upshot is that no matter what transpires at Issa’s eventual hearings, it will not have any immediate effect on the fuel efficiency rules. Yes, the House could vote to reverse them, but no such bill would pass the Democratic-controlled Senate, and even if it did, President Obama would veto it instantly.
But what if Republicans win control of both houses of Congress next year and also take the White House? That’s when Issa’s actions could start to matter…
So far, Issa has been a disappointment — his investigations have been too many and too superficial, and have produced nothing of note.