Senate Floor Statement by U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.)

Climate Debate

Link to Lieberman-Warner Climate Bill Exposed Page: www.epw.senate.gov/lieberman-warnerbillexposed
 
Selected Excerpts of Senator Inhofe’s floor statement:
 
 
We believe that any climate legislation must offer Clean Energy Solutions. 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.  It makes good business sense to produce energy more efficiently and American companies are at the forefront of developing new technologies.  We support investments in solar, wind, hydro, geothermal and other innovative technologies.  But we must be careful not to interfere in the free market system or we might stifle new innovations. Any approach that addresses climate change must incorporate more emission-free nuclear power.  […]
 
We must seriously consider how climate legislation will impact Economic Competitiveness. Emissions are a global issue which should be addressed globally, not unilaterally. All major emitting countries, including developing nations, must participate in order for any U.S. program to produce meaningful reductions in atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases.  Today, China emits more carbon dioxide than we do and the divide is only going to grow.  China adds two new coal power plants online each week and thousands of new cars on their roads.  The Kyoto Treaty expires next year and any future treaty should include the developing nations. Any action must provide real protections for the American economy and jobs.  American jobs should not go overseas where environmental laws are less strict and emissions increase.  If the U.S. were to act unilaterally, manufacturing facilities will go overseas where the environmental regulations are more lax.  This will result in more emissions at the industrial source and more emissions in transporting the products back to the U.S. We must protect American families. 
 […]  
 
We must carefully consider the Policy Tools used to enact any climate legislation. Any solution must not include 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.  Senator Corker has examined this legislation carefully and has outlined the over 45 new programs created by this bill.  As the Wall Street Journal said last week, “This Bill would impose the most extensive government reorganization of the American economy since the 1930s.”  We can not afford any tax increases, either directly or indirectly, and we must recognize that true innovation comes from the private sector.  This Bill will raise over $6.7 trillion from carbon sales and auctions primarily coming from the consumers.  It directs less than $2.45 trillion back to the consumers, if all of the transition assistance funds go directly to consumers without the businesses or states keeping any of the funds to run their transition programs, which they are allowed to do. 
[…]
 
Unfortunately the Bill we are discussing today violates all of these principles.  It ignores the needs of American families, it jeopardizes the jobs of American workers, it does not offer a global solution and in fact will increase global emissions, and it does not promote good clean energy solutions and in fact will make us even more dependent on foreign sources of energy. 
 
[...]
 
The mechanics of this bill, the impacts, and the costs have never been fully debated, and they deserve to be.  Proponents of this legislation have talked about how important this bill is and why we need to act.  I believe this warrants a full debate.  In 1990, this Senate spent over five weeks debating the Clean Air Act Amendments.  This bill goes much further in its impact on the American economy, its impact on jobs, and its impact on our international competitiveness.  It will do more to direct our energy policy for the next fifty years than either the Energy Bill of 2007 or the Energy Bill of 2005 combined.   I hope the majority intends to provide enough time to fully debate this legislation and doesn’t plan to rush it on and off the floor in an attempt to check a box.  Over the next few days you will see a number of republican amendments, which I believe will get bipartisan support, which will attempt to protect our workers, our families, our international competitiveness, and will promote clean energy solutions.  There have been many comments in the press, particularly from the Chairman of the Committee, that this bill will be pulled if any so-called weakening amendments are adopted.  I would hope that we will have a constructive and open debate on this bill.  There will be many amendments offered and I hope debated and voted upon.  This bill is the largest bill we will consider this congress; in fact it’s probably the largest bill ever considered by the Senate in its impact on the economy and our entire way of life, and I hope the majority will give it the time it deserves. 
 
Full Text of Floor Statement:
 
Mr. President, as we begin our debate today on the Climate legislation I want to make a few points.  I would like to first discuss what we, as Republicans, stand for, then talk briefly about the process of how we got to the debate on the floor today, and then finally discuss how we would like to see the floor debate progress over the coming days and perhaps weeks. 
 
First and foremost, we, as Republicans, believe any legislation that attempts to address climate change must protect American families, it must protect US workers, it has to maintain global fairness, and finally offer clean energy solutions.  Unfortunately this bill, the Climate Security Act of 2008, fails on all of these counts. 
 
We believe that any climate legislation must offer Clean Energy Solutions. 
 
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.  It makes good business sense to produce energy more efficiently and American companies are at the forefront of developing new technologies.  We support investments in solar, wind, hydro, geothermal and other innovative technologies.  But we must be careful not to interfere in the free market system or we might stifle new innovations. 
 
Any approach that addresses climate change must incorporate more emission-free nuclear power.  We are on the verge of a nuclear renaissance in this country and it is key to our long-term domestic energy independence.  We must address the remaining issues that hinder the construction of new nuclear plants, such as loan guarantees, waste, and regulatory certainty.  Senator Domenici, the greatest champion the nuclear industry has, is retiring at the end of this year and I can think of no greater honor to him than to make his renaissance a reality. 
 
Coal is our most abundant domestic energy source and it must be a part of any solution.  We must invest in clean coal technologies in order to increase our energy security.  While we must continue to explore carbon capture and storage, we can not hold the future use of coal hostage to this one technological feat.  Senator Byrd has been a tireless advocate for the greater use of coal and I know that Senator’s Voinovich and Barrasso on our Committee have been championing its use. 
 
We need to promote natural gas. 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 have an almost limitless supply of natural gas available and we have proven that we can develop this important resource in an environmentally friendly way.  I would like to see us build upon some of Senator Warner’s past work to open up more of our offshore resources. 
 
We must seriously consider how climate legislation will impact Economic Competitiveness. 
 
Emissions are a global issue which should be addressed globally, not unilaterally. All major emitting countries, including developing nations, must participate in order for any U.S. program to produce meaningful reductions in atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases.  Today, China emits more carbon dioxide than we do and the divide is only going to grow.  China adds two new coal power plants online each week and thousands of new cars on their roads.  The Kyoto Treaty expires next year and any future treaty should include the developing nations. 
 
Any action must provide real protections for the American economy and jobs.  American jobs should not go overseas where environmental laws are less strict and emissions increase.  If the U.S. were to act unilaterally, manufacturing facilities will go overseas where the environmental regulations are more lax.  This will result in more emissions at the industrial source and more emissions in transporting the products back to the U.S. We must protect American families.  Any action should not raise the cost of gasoline or energy for American families, particularly the low-income and elderly who are most susceptible to energy costs.  Those who make twenty thousand a year spend one third or more of their income on energy.  We can not turn our back on the less fortunate.  
 
We must carefully consider the Policy Tools used to enact any climate legislation. 
 
Any solution must not include 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.  Senator Corker has examined this legislation carefully and has outlined the over 45 new programs created by this bill.  As the Wall Street Journal said last week, “This Bill would impose the most extensive government reorganization of the American economy since the 1930s.”  
 
We can not afford any tax increases, either directly or indirectly, and we must recognize that true innovation comes from the private sector.  This Bill will raise over $6.7 trillion from carbon sales and auctions primarily coming from the consumers.  It directs less than $2.45 trillion back to the consumers, if all of the transition assistance funds go directly to consumers without the businesses or states keeping any of the funds to run their transition programs, which they are allowed to do.  This means that over $4.2 trillion dollars will be used to fund new government programs. 
 
Any solution must be national in scope without States or regions imposing duplicative or additional requirements on top of a federal system. It will be impossible for American industries to remain competitive if different regions or States have additional climate programs on top of a federal program.  
 
Finally, any national program must contain a transparent, effective cost control mechanism to avoid harm to the economy and job losses.  There are many ideas out there which might work, including ideas from Senators Bingaman and Spector.  Simply borrowing credits from future years will only create a larger problem later on. 
 
How We Got Here 
 
Unfortunately the Bill we are discussing today violates all of these principles.  It ignores the needs of American families, it jeopardizes the jobs of American workers, it does not offer a global solution and in fact will increase global emissions, and it does not promote good clean energy solutions and in fact will make us even more dependent on foreign sources of energy. 
 
One of the chief problems with this legislation is that it was hastily considered by the Environment and Public Works Committee without the benefit of the appropriate legislative process and a new version is now being considered on the Senate floor, also without the benefit of the appropriate legislative process. 
 
The Chairman of the Environment Committee has stated, as you will hear again and again, that the Committee held over twenty hearings last year before proceeding to a subcommittee and full Committee markup.  However, you must take a look at the type of hearings that we held.  Most of the hearings examined the potential impact of climate change fifty years in the future.  My favorite example was a hearing held on May 24 of last year, “The Issue of the Potential Impacts of Global Warming on Recreation and the Recreation Industry.”  The apparent point of this hearing was to show that if there is no snow in fifty years that the skiing industry might suffer: A fact that, while no one would dispute, can hardly be helpful in informing the Committee how to craft a cap-and-trade program. 
 
Unfortunately, the list of issues unaddressed by this Committee is longer than the actual list of hearings the Chairman did hold.  These topics, which were never explored by the Committee prior to drafting the legislation, include: how to draft a cap-and-trade system; how to allocate credits; how to design an auction system; how many credits to assign each industrial sector; how to structure the Carbon Market Efficiency Board; how to create a domestic offset program; what to do with international offsets; what the impacts would be on fuel switching; whether carbon capture and storage technologies will be available by 2030; whether the number of nuclear power plants can be built in time to provide the necessary electricity; how the impact on the natural gas supply will affect other industries; how many jobs will be sent overseas; how much world-wide emissions will increase when U.S. jobs will be sent overseas; what the international provisions’ impacts will be on trade and particularly exports; how to effectively contain costs through a transparent mechanism; and the list goes on. 
 
Contrast this Committee process with the process currently underway in the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.  Chairman Dingell’s Committee, which has jurisdiction over climate change and environmental issues in the House, is pursuing the issue under a much more methodical and deliberative process, as any legislation of this magnitude demands. Acknowledging the complexity of the issues surrounding any mandatory greenhouse gas reduction policy, the Committee has held a series of hearings and has released several White Papers.  The topics have included the fundamental aspects of greenhouse gas cap-and-trade policy, including the point of regulation and the benefits of auction versus allocation schemes, the interaction of climate change policy with other environmental laws like the Clean Air Act, the Endangered Species Act, and the National Environmental Policy Act, state and federal preemption issues, international competitiveness and how to engage the developing world, and technology barriers. These are only threshold issues, as each one lends itself to further examination. 
 
While the Subcommittee did hold one legislative hearing prior to the markup and the Full Committee held three such hearings over a two week period before the full Committee markup, all of these hearings were held without the benefit of any economic or environmental analysis.  The Committee members had no idea what the impacts of this legislation would be when we considered the bill in December.  We offered a number of amendments to protect workers, families, and try and keep a check on energy prices.  Almost all of them were defeated but we were promised that our issues would be addressed before the bill reached the Senate floor.  That was last December. 
 
On May 20, less than two weeks ago, the Committee Bill and Report was finally filed after a more than five month delay.  For a bill of this magnitude, and I remind my colleagues how the Wall Street Journal characterized it, “this bill would impose the most extensive government reorganization of the American economy since the 1930s,” only allowing Senators to review the report for less than two weeks is highly troubling. 
 
Even more troubling is the same week we all saw for the first time two more versions of the same bill.  Later on May 20, a new version of the bill with a never-before-seen amendment was filed and held at the desk as a new bill, S.3036, which is actually the version that we will be voting on this evening.  Then finally on Friday May 23, a Manager’s substitute which completely rewrote the legislation was circulated to members.  I can only assume that once cloture is invoked and we begin debating this bill that the substitute will be offered, which, of course, has never been subjected to hearings, economic analysis, or an environmental benefits test. 
 
Since the markup last December, we have had numerous economic modeling and analyses conducted by EPA, the Energy Information Agency, and multiple private sector analyses.  Unfortunately the Committee of jurisdiction, the Environment and Public Works Committee, never bothered to hold a single hearing on any of these economic reports.  I would like to point out that the Senate Energy and Natural Resources held an economic hearing on our bill two weeks ago and I applaud Chairman Bingaman for holding that important hearing.  I will be quoting from several of their witnesses over the upcoming days.
 
So, where are we today?  We spent months holding impact hearings to then rush through a few quickly scheduled legislative hearings and hold a markup without any analysis of the bill.  We then waited over five months before receiving yet two more drafts of the bill, the last version a mere ten days ago.  The Senate is now being asked to vote for cloture on the motion to proceed to a bill that was released two weeks ago. 
 
The Floor Debate 
 
It may surprise some of my colleagues but I support the cloture motion because I believe we really need to debate these issues on the Senate floor.   
 
The mechanics of this bill, the impacts, and the costs have never been fully debated, and they deserve to be.  Proponents of this legislation have talked about how important this bill is and why we need to act.  I believe this warrants a full debate.  In 1990, this Senate spent over five weeks debating the Clean Air Act Amendments.  This bill goes much further in its impact on the American economy, its impact on jobs, and its impact on our international competitiveness.  It will do more to direct our energy policy for the next fifty years than either the Energy Bill of 2007 or the Energy Bill of 2005 combined.   I hope the majority intends to provide enough time to fully debate this legislation and doesn’t plan to rush it on and off the floor in an attempt to check a box. 
 
Over the next few days you will see a number of republican amendments, which I believe will get bipartisan support, which will attempt to protect our workers, our families, our international competitiveness, and will promote clean energy solutions. 
 
There have been many comments in the press, particularly from the Chairman of the Committee, that this bill will be pulled if any so-called weakening amendments are adopted.  I would hope that we will have a constructive and open debate on this bill.  There will be many amendments offered and I hope debated and voted upon. 
This bill is the largest bill we will consider this congress; in fact it’s probably the largest bill ever considered by the Senate in its impact on the economy and our entire way of life, and I hope the majority will give it the time it deserves. 
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