Opening Statement of Senator James Inhofe
Full Committee hearing on "Examining Global Warming Issues in the Power Plant Sector"
June 28, 2007
Madame Chairman, we have never had a legislative hearing to examine the many proposed climate bills, and this hearing is no exception. But at least today we are discussing some broad concepts. So I would like to thank you for taking a half-step forward and urge you to take the next half-step. To date, we have had a dozen hearings talking endlessly about how urgent and important this issue is, and I believe that they have been useless and a complete waste of time.
For instance, we had a hearing to examine perspectives of religious leaders and little was learned. Indeed, you used the hearing to imply one of our witnesses of misrepresenting the views of the Southern Baptists Convention. But in a direct vindication of his statements, on June 13, the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) approved a resolution on global warming that questions the belief that humans are largely to blame for the phenomenon and also warns that increased regulation of greenhouse gases will hurt the poor.
Madame Chairman, you need to hurry if you want to pass legislation and you should have hearings on each of the bills. Just last month, it was discovered that increasing wind shear from warming will reduce hurricanes, not increase them. Increasingly, prominent scientists are beginning to reject the global warming hype. Some recent converts include Paleoclimatologist Dr. Ian D. Clark, professor of the Department of Earth Sciences at University of Ottawa, Mathematician & engineer Dr. David Evans, who did carbon accounting for the Australian Government, and Climate scientist Dr. Chris de Freitas of The University of Auckland, New Zealand.
But I cannot believe the Senate will pass cap and trade mandates. According to MIT, the Lieberman-McCain bill will impose costs on our energy sector that are passed onto consumers equal to $3500 per family. The Sanders-Boxer bill would be equal to $4500 per family.
Hopefully, today’s hearing will be more constructive than past hearings. I strongly disagree with the approach being taken by the 3 utilities represented here today. But I want to be clear – as Ronald Reagan used to say, “my 80-percent ally is not my 20-percent enemy.”
I have long been a sturdy supporter of our energy sector and championed legislation that would increase our supplies and minimize regulatory costs. In fact, when I chaired this Committee, one of the witnesses today, Jim Rogers, testified in favor of my Clear Skies bill. Welcome, Mr. Rogers.
While we disagreed then and now about the need for regulating carbon dioxide, we shared the view that 70 percent cuts in air pollution could be achieved if we were smart about it. A key aspect of that legislation is something that too often gets sugar-coated in this debate – we cannot get ahead of the technology and we must not disrupt energy markets.
I also believe our nation needs more energy and more diverse energy. While we continue to move toward greater efficiency, we will continue to need more energy to supply our growing nation. We need more nuclear generation, more natural gas exploration, more coal and more hydro. We need clean coal and coal-to-liquids. And the legislation I have supported makes it clear that I back up my beliefs with action.
The Edison Electric Institute has said that any mandatory legislation should be economy-wide. I agree with the sentiment that the utility industry should not be singled out for special treatment.
As I go through the list of things where we agree and disagree, when it comes to a utility that parts company with me on this issue, I consider it to be my 80 percent ally. Madame Chairman, I guess that means you probably belong in the 20 percent range.
Energy is the most fundamental ingredient of America’s economic engine. Our nation has done a poor job in keeping supply up and costs down. I would add that the energy bill we just passed does little to increase supply, but much to increase costs. Likewise, carbon cap and trade schemes would decrease supply while driving costs through the roof.
Ultimately, that means more costs passed onto the consumer in the form of higher prices. That is really what today’s hearing is all about – how much will carbon schemes cost and who will bear the burden of these higher costs?
As each of our utility witnesses speak today, I would like to hear their views as to the issue of economy-wide versus utility specific, the differences between regulating carbon where the technologies are in their infancy and regulating something such as sulfur dioxide where the technologies are mature? And I would like all the witnesses to discuss the elephant in the living room – costs to consumers and jobs moving to China, the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases on the planet.
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