STATEMENT OF CHRISTOPHER S. BOND
EPW HEARING ON S. 556
Wednesday, June 10, 2002, 9:30 am, SD-406
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for holding another hearing on S. 556. I think it is vital for everyone to know the high price that American families would pay for electricity under S. 556, with very little benefit to the environment or public health versus the President's Clear Skies proposal.
Independent experts appearing before this committee testified that S. 556 would:
- cause American consumers to spend an extra $40 billion to $60 billion on electricity;
- force power plants to cut their use of coal by 40 to 50 percent, costing thousands of jobs in the coal sector;
- threaten tens of thousands more jobs across the country through higher energy costs;
- force total U.S. economic activity, or GDP, downward by almost $100 billion in 2007 alone.
The high costs of S. 556 will hurt those most in need. S. 556 will disproportionately harm low-income families struggling to pay even their utility bills.
EPA estimates that a bill similar to S. 556 would raise electricity prices between 30 and 50 percent by 2015. The EIA estimates that natural gas prices at the wellhead will jump 20 percent by 2020.
We may not care that we are forcing big utilities to pay higher costs. We should care that they will pass these costs on to their consumers. In the end, we will hurt our families, our single mothers, our elderly, with higher electric bills.
Consumers will pay $11 billion more per year under S. 556 than under the Presidentís Clears Skies Initiative. What do we get in return for raising electricity rates on American families by 30 to 50 percent? Are there any benefits from S. 556 to the health of our families or the environment above and beyond the President's Clear Skies plan? The astonishing answer is no!
The President's Clear Skies plan to reduce major air pollution levels by 75 percent would achieve virtually identical, dramatic results as S. 556. EPA estimates that 2,981 counties would meet EPA clean air health standards under Clear Skies and 2,987 counties would meet the standards under S. 556. That's a difference of 2/10th of a percent.
Both the President's plan and S. 556 would avoid thousands of premature deaths from air pollution. Multi-emissions legislation would achieve the goals of the Clean Air Act much faster and for far less money than current law.
There is strong bipartisan agreement and support for reducing air pollution in the form of SO2, NOx, and Mercury. Unfortunately, my friends on the opposite side of the aisle are blocking American families' chances at cleaner air.
The Democrats insist on including carbon dioxide in their multi≠pollutant bill. The main reason we have taken so long to bring S. 556 to markup is the other side refuses to accept the reality that no legislation can pass this Congress with mandatory carbon dioxide caps.
Just this Spring during the Energy Bill debate, the Senate on a bipartisan basis rejected 3 climate-related proposals. I would hate to think that some are still willing to make carbon dioxide a priority over our health.
Another area where some refuse to face reality is in mercury reduction levels. The technology simply does not exist to reduce mercury in Missouri power plants to the levels called for in S. 556.
Similarly, even if Missouri residents wanted to pay electric bills 30 to 50 percent higher than current rates and switch to natural gas burning power plants, the pipeline capacity in Missouri does not exist to supply these plants.
So, I urge my colleagues to lay aside political differences.
I urge my colleagues lay aside the impossible. I urge my colleagues to lay aside plans that will impose billions of dollars in higher electric bills for very little gain in public health or the environment.
††††††††††† We can debate and pass a three-pollutant bill. I look forward to working with my colleagues to get past our differences and bring cleaner air to millions of Americans.†††††
††††††††††† Thank you.