U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith visits the School of Science and Technology in February 2016. Credit: Bekah McNeel / San Antonio Report

Under Donald Trump’s administration, many fear that protections put in place by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) could be in jeopardy. The new president’s statements in favor of decreased regulations have emboldened lawmakers who have sought for years to scale back the agency’s reach.

One such lawmaker is U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), chair of the Science, Space, and Technology Committee. A longtime proponent of decreased environmental regulation, Smith has publicly asserted that the degree to which humans influence climate change has been overstated by “the liberal media.”

“The media’s credibility is at a new low — and it’s self-inflicted. That’s because they have set out on a maniacal mission to destroy anyone who doesn’t bow to their political views,” a statement on Smith’s website reads.

Smith also claims that scientists have fabricated climate change information in order to support EPA regulations.

“In the summer of 2015, whistleblowers alerted the Committee that the Karl study [2015 climate change study] was rushed to publication before underlying data issues were resolved to help influence public debate about the so-called Clean Power Plan and upcoming Paris climate conference,” reads Smith’s statement from Feb. 5, 2017, on the Science, Space, and Technology Committee’s website.

The statement was made in response to the testimony of John Bates, a scientist formerly with NOAA. According to the New York Times, Bates’ testimony was “amplified and sensationalized” by climate change deniers worldwide.

The Rivard Report recently published a letter addressed to Smith from David Lake, principal architect with Lake|Flato Architects. Lake’s letter pointed out the scientific facts that have motivated the billion dollar Green Building construction industry to improve the national housing stock.

Lake’s article came in response to a hearing called by the Science, Space and Technology Committee entitled “Making the EPA Great Again.” The witnesses at the hearing largely represented the energy industry. Lake urged Smith to listen to the scientific community in order to “create a more secure future for our citizens.”

Smith responded to Lake’s letter with the following:

Dear David,

Many thanks for writing. And I welcome the opportunity to clear up some misconceptions about my view of climate change.

Nothing I have said or written should give you the impression that I deny carbon emissions have an impact on global warming. I can only guess that you are relying on a very biased liberal media for your information, which is regrettable.

My preferred way to address climate change is through research and development and technology and innovations. This approach contrasts with government mandates, which are inefficient and ineffective and distort the incentives of the free market to solve the problem.

For instance, if the nearly 200 countries that signed the Paris climate agreement fully implemented their proposed plans, all their efforts together would reduce global warming by only one-sixths of a degree Celsius. That’s the definition of costly and ineffective.

Instead, we should unleash the determination and creativity of the private sector, sometimes in conjunction with the government, which has always solved our country’s challenges in the past. These hurdles that we have cleared include poverty, disease, hunger, poor transportation, and slow communication. I feel that the U.S. will continue to make technological breakthroughs, especially in the area of climate change, which will prove more productive than government regulations.

Sincerely,

Lamar Smith

San Antonio Report Staff

This article was assembled by various members of the San Antonio Report staff.