April 27, 2021
Today, U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), ranking member of the EPW Subcommittee on Clean Air, Climate and Nuclear Safety, gave opening remarks and questioned witnesses at a legislative hearing on S.283, National Climate Bank Act.
As Prepared For Delivery:
I would like to welcome our panel to the first Clean Air subcommittee hearing of the 117th Congress. I’d like to give a special thanks to Mr. Isaac and Commissioner Bell for joining us today. Before I discuss my thoughts on the Chairman’s bill, I’d like to say that I’ve known my colleague from Massachusetts for many years. He’s a friend and before he was elected to the Senate, we served in the House together. Senator Markey is a true liberal and while we often disagree, I have great respect for him. I look forward to us working together just as I’ve worked effectively with other Democrats like former Senator Boxer and Chairman Reed on the Armed Services Committee.
Now I have serious concerns with the bill we are discussing today.
Sadly, it appears the “National Climate Bank Act” may be phase one of Democrats’ far-left climate agenda--the end goal, of course, being the “Green New Deal.” We all know the Green New Deal seeks to end our way of life as we know it – abolish fossil fuels, air travel and control how much beef we eat. This bill creates a federally-funded, D.C. based climate bank solely focused on funneling $100 billion taxpayer dollars into “green” projects favored by Washington Democrats.
While there are many issues with the bill, the bottom line is we simply don’t need it. The bill’s own findings indicate that in 2018 alone, there was over $100 billion invested in renewable energy and energy efficiency projects.
Furthermore, this bill does not take into account that the Department of Energy’s loan program office is flush with cash—with more than $40 billion in loans and loan guarantees for energy projects.
Even President Biden’s $2 trillion slush fund for all things “infrastructure” plan devotes less than $30 billion for a carbon bank. That’s less than 2% -- clearly not a real priority. That says a lot.
Secondly, let’s talk about who controls the money in this bank—Washington activists. The Bank’s Board of Directors would be handpicked by the President or cabinet officials in his Administration. A seat is given to the Director of the unaccountable CFPB. That is a far cry from the nonpartisan or bipartisan standard for federal boards and commissions we have today. This Board would likely be used to reward political allies of Washington Democrats and at the expense of taxpayer dollars.
Worse, nothing in this bill prevents the Bank from being used as a slush fund for billionaires or other politically connected Democrats.
Finally, this bill places coal country in its crosshairs. It establishes a “Cash for Carbon” program to force the closure of reliable coal-fired power plants and even clean natural gas-fired power plants as well. That would be devastating to communities across America, including my state of Oklahoma and Gillete, Wyoming, where our witness, Commissioner Bell resides.
The winter vortex from February reminded everyone that renewables alone won’t keep our lights on – we need coal and natural gas. I could go on but the simple fact is we shouldn’t risk taxpayer dollars in loans to well-connected industries of the left. I look forward to hearing from our witnesses today and discussing these important issues.