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October 10, 2008

Inhofe Honored For Protecting U.S. Taxpayers from Devastating Climate Tax

Americans for Prosperity Foundation Honors Inhofe with Prestigious ‘Washington Award’

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator James  Inhofe (R-Okla.), Ranking Member of the United States Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, will be honored tonight by the Americans for Prosperity Foundation with their prestigious "Washington Award." Senator Inhofe will join George Will, Ed Meese, Dinesh D'Souza and more than 1,800 grassroots free-market advocates from 38 states that are gathering for Americans for Prosperity Foundation's (AFP's) 2nd annual Defending the American Dream. The event is the largest gathering in the nation of free-market activists and leaders who want to transform the policy landscape on issues such as taxes, spending, and pro-growth economic principles. Visit http://www.defendingthedream.org/ for a full agenda. 

"I am honored to receive AFP's prestigious Washington Award for my efforts to stop the United States Senate from passing massive climate change tax legislation," Senator Inhofe said. "With the serious financial crisis we face today, it is obvious that the Senate was right to reject a devastating climate tax, which would further drive up energy costs and put Americans out of work. 

"I appreciate the opportunity to join thousands of free-market conservatives who are willing to stand tall against those in Washington-regardless of party-who appear ready to abandon our American capitalism.  Those of us gathered here today must be ready for the assault against reason and be prepared to stand our ground in protection of our free-market economic principles. It is easy to be ‘principled' and oppose the march of big government during good economic times, but conservatives and other free-market advocates must be especially courageous when times are tough. It is not often that I cite the Washington Post, but an article in today's paper entitled, 'The End of American Capitalism?' accurately detailed how America now appears so willing to abandon economic liberty and the principles of our founders. In 1964, Ronald Reagan said: ‘The more the plans fail, the more the planners plan.' You can be sure that the words of Reagan will once again ring true as Washington attempts an unprecedented management of our economy." 

Confirmed speakers at the Defending the American Dream Summit include columnist George Will, best-selling author Dinesh D'Souza, former Attorney General Ed Meese, Dr. James Miller, President Reagan's budget director, ABC 20/20 Co-Anchor John Stossel, the Weekly Standard's Fred Barnes, Steve Moore and John Fund of the Wall Street Journal, U.S. Representative Tom Price (Ga.), and AFPF President Tim Phillips.

Americans for Prosperity Foundation (AFPF) is the nation's premier grassroots organization committed to advancing every individual's right to economic freedom and opportunity. AFPF believes reducing the size and scope of government is the best safeguard to ensuring individual productivity and prosperity for all Americans. AFPF educates and engages citizens in support of restraining state and federal government growth, and returning government to its constitutional limits. For more information, visit www.americansforprosperity.org

Inhofe's Remarks As Prepared for Delivery: 

Thank you for the introduction and thank you to AFP Foundation Chairman, David Koch and the grassroots members of Americans for Prosperity Foundation. I understand your members are people who volunteer their time and energy -- making phone calls, writing letters, going to town hall meetings, visiting state Capitols -- all in defense of free market principles.  Now more than ever, that is something worth fighting for.  I am honored to be here tonight and appreciate receiving AFP's prestigious Washington Award  for my efforts to speak out and work to stop the United States Senate from passing massive climate change tax legislation in the United States Senate. Now as our nation and the world's economy face a financial crisis, we see the wisdom in rejecting legislation that would have been the largest tax increase in American history.   

"I appreciate the opportunity to join thousands of free-market conservatives who are willing to stand tall against those in Washington-regardless of party-who appear ready to abandon our American capitalism.  Those of us gathered here today must be ready for the assault against reason and be prepared to stand our ground in protection of our free-market economic principles. It is easy to be ‘principled' and oppose the march of big government during good economic times, but conservatives and other free-market advocates must be especially courageous when times are tough. It is not often that I cite the Washington Post, but an article in today's paper entitled, 'The End of American Capitalism?' accurately detailed how America now appears so willing to abandon economic liberty and the principles of our founders. In 1964, Ronald Reagan said: ‘The more the plans fail, the more the planners plan.' You can be sure that the words of Reagan will once again ring true as Washington attempts an unprecedented management of our economy." 

I first began speaking out on global warming alarmism when I became the Chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in 2003. Recognizing the tremendous cost a climate tax like Kyoto would have on the American people, I felt it important to take a closer look at the science and listen to what scientists had to say. It didn't take long until I found out that the science was far from what was being reported by the mainstream media.                         

Therefore, when climate change legislation came to the Senate Floor in 2003, I lead the efforts in the US Senate against the largest tax increase on the American people. At that time, there were only two Senators willing to stand up with me and speak out against liberal special interests on the issue. I led the fight again in 2005 and a few more Senators joined me in expressing strong opposition.  And again, just this past June, despite a Democratic majority in the Senate, we once again stood our ground and I was pleased to see twenty five of my colleague's line up on the Senate Floor to oppose to such a devastating tax. Now consider what scientists are saying today about man-made global warming: MIT Climate Scientist Dr. Richard Lindzen recently wrote that "A general characteristic of Mr. Gore's approach is to assiduously ignore the fact that the Earth and its climate are dynamic; they are always changing even without any external forcing. To treat all change as something to fear is bad enough; to do so in order to exploit that fear is much worse."  Nobel Prize Winner for Physics, Ivar Giaever declares himself dissenter on July 2, 2008 saying. "I am a skeptic...Global warming has become a new religion."  Environmental Economist and global warming co-author Dennis Avery's 2006 book, Unstoppable Global Warming: Every 1500 Years, wrote on May 1, 2008.  

"How many years of declining world temperature would it take now-in the wake of the ten-year non-warming since 1998-to break up Al Gore's "climate change consensus?"  Atmospheric Scientist Dr. Joanne Simpson, the first woman in the world to receive a PhD in meteorology declared she was skeptical of man-made climate fears, February 27, 2008. "As a scientist I remain skeptical.... Since I am no longer affiliated with any organization nor receiving any funding, I can speak quite frankly."  When the economic facts are brought to light about the severe impact a climate tax would have on American families, the Senate has rejected it.  With the serious financial crisis we face today, it is certainly good that the Senate has thus far refused to go along.  Today the American people are outraged with Wall Street and Washington. They want to know why the tax payer is being asked to bailout Wall Street to an amount of $700 billion.  In 2005, I supported the efforts of Senate Republicans, led by Senator Shelby and Senator McCain, to rein in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. We argued at the time that their size and structure were a systemic threat to the global economy. With the terrible financial news coming out each day, I very much wish we had been wrong. That is why this upcoming election is one of the most important in a generation.  American families have been feeling the economic strain from higher prices at the pump, at the grocery store, and in their homes for quite some time. Now they are watching as the stock market continues to drop and worry about their hard earned savings. When Americans go to the polls in a little over three weeks, they will be voting for the candidate best ready to provide leadership on economic and energy issues.  

Facing the likelihood of major Democratic gains in Congress, and possibly a liberal Democrat in the White House, we will be fighting a steep uphill battle.  The upcoming election has led to one major victory. Just two weeks ago Congress finally saw fit to allow the expiration of the ban on offshore oil drilling and the leasing of oil shale. Allowing the moratorium that bars offshore development will lead to greater domestic energy supply and American jobs.  The fact is, a vast majority of Americans now support offshore drilling and greater use of domestic energy resources. Republicans have consistently proposed measures to address high gasoline prices by increasing our domestic production. As often noted, America is not running out of oil and gas or running out of places to look for oil and gas. America is running out of places where we are allowed to look for oil and gas.  After decades of refusing to allow common sense resource extraction, the Democrats finally folded on the issues of offshore development and oil shale just five weeks before Election Day. Quite simply, Democrats feared opposing the will of the American people to utilize more domestic energy supplies. Despite the Democrats complete capitulation on this issue; they undoubtedly will once again attempt to restrict access to domestic energy sources after the political expediency of Election Day passes.  

We got a hint of this just last week when House Democrats attempted to reinstate the moratorium on oil shale development as included in a Democratic "stimulus" bill. Also last week, when Americans were focused on perhaps the greatest economic challenges this country has faced in over a generation, House Democrats released a set of principles on October 2nd that outline an aggressive plan to cap greenhouse gas emissions. The plan could be even more economically restrictive than the failed Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act, which I will discuss later, and would have cost $6.7 trillion dollars, according to the bill's own sponsors! All of that cost will be passed on to families and workers and will be re-filtered through other government programs.  When it comes to energy and climate issues, we need an all of the above approach, and we need less bureaucracy. 

With skyrocketing energy costs we need to consider all sources of energy - from oil and natural gas exploration, to shale exploration in the West, to alternatives. We need it all to run this machine called America.  And when it comes to alternatives, we are for all sources. But it has to be cost effective. And that is where energy policy and climate policy become intertwined. Mandating more reductions using technologies that do not exist is a dangerous game to play when it comes to protecting already vulnerable American jobs in a global economy. Substantial investment must be made in new, clean energy technologies which generate more energy efficiently by producing less carbon, without the government picking winners and losers as recent climate bills have done.  We must incorporate more emission-free nuclear power.  We must address the remaining issues that hinder the construction of new nuclear plants. Nuclear power is the world's largest sources of non-emitting energy by far. Any credible attempt to reduce carbon emissions must include significant development of new nuclear plants We must promote clean coal and natural gas.  Our most abundant domestic energy source must be a part of any solution. 

We must invest in clean coal technologies in order to increase our energy security.  Increasing supplies of natural gas are needed in order to compensate for fuel switching which could harm America's industrial base and export jobs. We took a great step forward on this by letting the moratoria expire, but we must continue our efforts to make sure these benefits are realized.  On climate change, we learned some important lessons when we debated the Lieberman Warner bill last summer that I hope you all will take note of.  

We learned that the $6.7 trillion cost of the bill that I noted earlier will be passed on to families and workers across the country in the form of higher gas prices, higher electricity and heating/cooling bills, more expensive consumer goods and higher workplace costs. We can not afford any tax increases, either directly or indirectly and we must recognize that true innovation comes from the private sector.  We learned that of the $6.7 trillion, it directed less than $2.45 trillion back to the consumers which means that over $4.2 Trillion dollars would be used to fund new government programs. To illustrate, my staff outlined over 45 new programs created by this bill.  The Wall Street Journal also said this bill would impose "the most extensive government reorganization of the American economy since the 1930s."  

We learned it also included a lot of pork, including slush funds controlled by federal bureaucracies used to reward political friends.  The climate solution should not require an overhaul of our economy and those decisions should not be made by nameless bureaucrats rewarding their friends or pet projects. The cost was particularly bad for my home state of Oklahoma. The Lieberman-Warner Bill (S. 2191) would have increased household costs for every family of 4 in Oklahoma by $3,298. Because of the rising cost of home heating and electricity, the average increase per U.S. household will be $1,740 per year by 2020, according to Charles River Associates.

Oklahoma would have spent almost twice as much as the average U.S. household at $3,298 per year. Further, Lieberman-Warner would add to the already skyrocketing costs at the pump, with various analyses showing an increase somewhere between $.41and $1.01 per gallon by 2030.  So as we learned during this summer's debate on Lieberman-Warner cap-and-trade bill and offshore drilling, the appetite of the American people to unlock America's affordable energy resources is very strong. I believe the current financial crisis will only reinforce the public's concerns about any climate bill that attempts to increase the costs of energy and jeopardizes jobs in the near term. Financial realities will make it much more difficult for the new Administration or Congress to put forth a very aggressive, economy-wide climate bill. 

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