U.S. Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works
U.S. Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works
Hearing Statements
Date:   07/29/2003
 
Sen. Wayne Allard, of Colorado
Climate history, science, and mercury emissions

Mr. Chairman, I want to thank you for holding this important hearing today.

As a veterinarian, I have some scientific training in my background. I strongly believe that we should use scientific principals as a guidepost when formulating any regulation. This scientific guidepost approach is particularly important when looking at regulations with the implications and magnitude of regulations on climate change and mercury control..

Climate change has been an ongoing discussion for many years. However, during the 1970s the concerns were exactly opposite what they are now. Then we were told that there was a threat of massive global cooling. Headlines screamed that we were in danger of entering another ice age. Now we are told that massive warming trends are going to cause overheating across the globe. We need answers, not rhetoric.

All of the witnesses here today have a great deal of experience. All of the witnesses here have spent many years analyzing data related to the areas of their expertise. But, I am concerned that, at times, data may be reviewed selectively and in isolation. I am also concerned that emphasis may fall on a limited number of studies. In science we have all learned that the only way to solidly prove a theory is by conducting tests, studies or experiments that repeatedly arrive at the same result. We cannot simply ignore the studies that do not have the outcome we are looking for. This applies whether we are looking at climate change, mercury or any other issue.

I want to spend most of my time and attention today on potential mercury regulations. While today’s hearing is intended to focus on science, I would also like to touch on the impact that potential regulations will have on the economy of my state and the west. As many of you know, western coal differs from other types of coal in several ways. The higher chlorine content in western coal makes it more difficult to remove mercury when burning it. And, while western coal does contain mercury, when it is burned it gives off mercury in the elemental form. It is my understanding that this is not the type of mercury that deposits in the ecosystem to potentially be absorbed by the environment.

The economies of Colorado, and the entire west, will be impacted by harsh regulations placed on their coal. Economies undoubtedly will be damaged by the decrease in use of coal mined in the West. In addition, while jobs are being lost due to the subsequent inability to fully utilize western coal supplies, if power can no longer be generated by using coal mined in the west, other less efficient coal types will have to be transported across long distances. This additional expenditure will add to the price of electricity generation, driving up electricity costs and further damaging an economy that will already be struggling.

This is why it is so important to me that we be cautious when dealing with situations such as these and why we should place strong emphasis on the use of sound science. Our regulations must be thoughtful reflections of what we know - they should not be reflexive or reactive attempts to legislate a cure before we know what the disease is.

Again, Mr. Chairman, thank you for holding this hearing. I look forward to hearing the witness testimony and discussions to come.