(EnviroNews Utah) – Salt Lake City – “Let me challenge you on something. Would you be willing to bet your house against my house, that you cannot find anywhere where I said, or advocated, or suggested that we dissolve the EPA? Would you be willing to do that?”
These were the brazen words spoken by freshman Republican Congressman and newly elected Chair of the Environmental Subcommittee, Chris Stewart, to a question posed to him by Dr. Brian Moench of the Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment (UPHE) at a heated town hall meeting last week.
The event drew a large crowd and followed a warm-up rally and protest sponsored by local environmental groups who were initially denied access to the forum when the venue filled quickly to capacity with a crowd that clearly contained a healthy percentage of Stewart supporters.
A small handful of the citizens from the rally was finally permitted to enter the event after Cherise Udell of the Utah Moms for Clean Air practically busted into the meeting and made a strong plea for people who had been asking questions to go outside and allow others a turn.
A few minutes after the rally-goers entered the room, Dr. Brian Moench stood up and grabbed the microphone to a room full of applause before he even began speaking. This was the dialog that ensued:
Moench: You say you haven’t been attacking the EPA, except when you were running for Congress last year, you made multiple statements that your position was that the EPA should be dissolved.
Stewart: That’s not true.
Moech: It’s been reported in the news media. Let me elaborate on my follow-up question. My follow-up question is this in regards to the EPA: Every major medical organization in this country, representing every specialty, has endorsed stricter clean-air standards. Every single one. So, if the entire medical community endorses stricter standards, do you have an entity somewhere outside of mainstream medicine that can do this re-evaluation of medical studies that you have asked for? (Applause.)
Stewart: Let me challenge you on something. Would you be willing to bet your house against my house that you cannot find anywhere where I said or advocated or suggested that we dissolve the EPA? Would you be willing to do that? (Applause from two or three people.)
Moench: (Inaudible.) There are reporters quoting you that way.
Stewart: I bet you can’t even find that. But you would have to find something direct from …. and if I was advocating that, wouldn’t it be on my web page? K, so that’s the question. What you’ve just said that I’m telling you is untrue. I never said that. Ok, now to your question: I think you came in late, didn’t you?
Moench: We came in early.
Stewart: I think we’ve answered the question. I’m not going to go back to it for the whole group because we spent a long time answering it. (Loud boos from the audience.)
“I bet you can’t even find that.” Really? Does Mr. Stewart not realize that the Pony Express is a long time gone and that nowadays we live in the era of Google, harnessing the power of the search query at nearly every juncture?
On August 25, 2012, the St. George News reported on a town hall event in southern Utah when Rep. Chris Stewart was running for his seat. At that time, Mori Kessler used these words to describe the position that Stewart had taken in the meeting, as well as afterward in a one-on-one interview:
In an interview following the meeting, Stewart said the Environmental Protection Agency was a federal agency he would like to see dissolved. ’The EPA thwarts energy development,’ he said.
Mother Jones followed up on this topic when reporter Tim Murphy ran a report on the first-term congressman after he took the reins as chair of the Environmental subcommittee.
In a conversation with Joyce Kuzmanic, who is Editor-in-Chief of the St. George News, she told EnviroNews USA that they “stand by their reporting” but did make note that this was not a surprise, based upon all of the dog-and-pony rhetoric experienced in political campaigns these days. Naturally, this holds especially true for non-incumbent individuals making their first bid at an elected position.
Nevertheless, Mr. Stewart should think a little more carefully before he starts wagering houses around in his attempts to deny previous positions that he has taken in the past.
“I bet you can’t even find that!” Well, here it is — the reference to reporters chronicling him as taking a stance to kill the EPA. So, I guess the only question to ask now is just when is Representative Stewart going to sign the deed to his house over to the medical doctor who asked him the question? After all, it was Mr. Stewart’s challenge to begin with.