Friday, June 29, 2007

Top Ten Democrat Energy Bill Failures

June 28, 2007 

Top Ten Democrat Energy Bill Failures

The Democrats recently passed Senate Energy Bill will increase the price of gasoline, do nothing for supply and production, and impose new mandates on energy providers which will increase the cost of electricity for all consumers.  The Democrats claim to want to reduce prices at the pump, claim to support energy independence and help lower income Americans, but this bill fails to meet any of those goals. In particular, low and fixed income Americans will be hit hardest with higher gas and electricity costs for at least the next decade. The bill fails to secure an American energy supply that is stable, diverse, and affordable. 

Top Ten Failures

#1 – Democrat Energy Bill will raise gas prices. The Democrat passed energy bill does nothing to address prices at the pump. In fact, the only amendment that would have helped lower prices, the Gas Petroleum Refinery Improvement & Community Empowerment Act of 2007 or Gas Price Act was voted down. One estimate of the bill’s legacy, with its so-called “price gouging” provisions and new mandates on energy providers -- has the price of fuel at the pump more than doubling by 2016.

#2 - Democrat Energy Bill will raise food prices.  The Energy Bill expanded the corn based ethanol mandate to 36 billion gallons by 2022. Current Ethanol production is using up to 20% of the Nation's corn crop. Ethanol production is already increasing food prices on milk, pizza, chocolate, poultry, ice cream, cereals, beef and tortillas. The current demand for corn is pushing food prices up 4% this year alone. Milk alone could hit $4.50 a gallon this summer. America’s farmers and industry banned together and signed a letter opposing all new mandates on corn based ethanol.

#3 – Democrat Energy Bill lacks energy. At a time when American families are paying near record prices for motor fuels and natural gas, the majority party failed to increase any supplies of abundant domestic resources like gas, coal or nuclear. Democrats have instead told energy starved Americans to go on a diet. There are no provisions for increased domestic oil production. Democrats voted against an amendment that sought to improve the permitting process for the construction of coal-to-liquids production facilities. Coal-to-liquids was praised by Montana’s Democratic Governor Schweitzer. “’Synfuels’ have remarkable properties: they are high-performing substances that run in existing engines without any technical modifications, and they burn much more cleanly than conventional fuels,” Governor Schweitzer said. In addition, while claiming to support renewable fuels, Democrats voted down another amendment to help spur cellulosic ethanol.

#4 - Democrat Energy Bill means U.S. job flight overseas. A May 31, 2007 article in the Monterey County Herald details how no new refineries have been built in the U.S. in the past three decades and only one is currently in the works. The article explains that "oil companies are scaling back planned investments in new, expanded or modernized U.S. refineries rather than increasing them," while at the same time there is a boom underway overseas where it is "generally cheaper and easier to build refineries." The article explains that these developments mean "Americans increasingly will be filling their tanks with imported gasoline."

#5 – Democrat Energy Bill’s “price gouging” provisions will promote gas shortages.  The provisions include subjective phrasing, vague and undefined terms. In a complex market such as fuels and commodities, regulatory certainty is required. Subjective phrases such as “unconscionably excessive” along with the imposition of heavy fines and prison terms up to five years serve to discourage fuel suppliers.  The Democratic attempt to “protect” consumers will have the opposite result.  A June 27, 2007 op-ed in the Detroit News summed up the energy bill’s shortcomings: “Price controls and taxing our way to energy security backfired in the 1970s, draining billions of dollars from domestic oil and natural gas development, and they won't work now.” “price gouging” provisions may have a worse effect than outright price controls.

#6 – Democrat Energy Bill’s $3 million Capitol Power Plant carbon capture demonstration project fails to achieve stated sequestration goals. Although many technologies are touted for possible use at the plant, none of those technologies actually would qualify under two year the bill. In addition, there is little purpose to carbon capture and storage if the stored carbon is released back into the atmosphere.

#7 - Democrat Energy Bill harms U.S. workers. A June 27, 2007 op-ed in the Detroit News explained: “For Congress to increase taxes on our own investor-owned oil companies and raise royalty rates to pay for a big increase in renewable fuels doesn't make economic sense. It will be potentially harmful to working people, since most of the tax money would come from eliminating the manufacturing tax deduction, which Congress authorized in 2004 and was designed to boost the number of U.S. jobs, including those in the oil and gas industry.”

#8 – Democrat Energy Bill adversely impacts home appliances. The cost of the energy bill's mandates for appliances would outweigh the electricity saved.  Consumer Reports found that current federal efficiency standards have resulted in clothes washing machines which "left our stain-soaked swatches nearly as dirty as they were before washing." The magazine recommended "for best results, you'll have to spend $900 or more” to get a machine that cleans adequately. Improving energy efficiency is a laudable goal, but it must protect and enhance consumer choice.

#9 – Democrat Energy Bill will decrease automotive safety and hinder consumer choice. The Energy Bill mandates Higher Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards for cars and trucks will rise to 35 miles per gallon by 2020. But the current (27.5 mpg) fuel economy standard has already being blamed for causing thousands of deaths due to vehicle downsizing. In addition, the higher mandates can add thousands to the cost of a new car. Politicians in Washington have decided that consumer choice is not sufficient and federal law must now dictate smaller vehicles on the American public.  A spokesman for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers' said of the energy bill: "It's almost like the bill is designed to be anti-manufacturing and [anti]-jobs, rather than energy independence.” ( Link – Subscription required)

#10 - Democrat Energy Bill turns back the clock on the Clean Air Act and the EPA.  Despite claims to be the pro-environment party, the Democrats’ energy bill cuts the Clean Air Act and the Environmental Protection Agency out of regulating fuels and places it under the discretion of the President.  The fuels program would no longer be subjected to environmental safeguards. Fourteen environmental groups opposed the very same bill when it came out of the energy committee. Observers would expect them to maintain their opposition.

Related Links:


Inhofe Praises Bald Eagle Delisting - But Voices Concern Over New ESA-Like Restrictions

June 28, 2007

Inhofe Praises Bald Eagle Delisting

But Voices Concern Over New ESA-Like Restrictions


WASHINGTON, DC – Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Ranking Member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, today welcomed the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s final decision to remove the Bald Eagle from under the Endangered Species Act.

"Today’s announcement to remove the Bald Eagle from protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) recognizes decades of great work done by all levels of government, private industry and local landowners to ensure our majestic national symbol did not disappear," Senator Inhofe said. "Since the Bald Eagle was added to the list in 1974, it has made a remarkable comeback, now boasting population numbers not seen since World War II."

"I am concerned, however, about the recent guidelines issued under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (BGEPA) that will go into effect when ESA protection is removed. It appears that in some cases the guidelines place the same, ESA-like limitations on the backs of landowners under the guise of different law. We need to ensure that when an animal is taken off the ESA list, burdensome restrictions on property owners are removed as well. I hope to work with the Fish and Wildlife Service as they continue to finalize and implement these guidelines."

"What is more troubling are those voices still insisting that the Bald Eagle remain listed despite their thriving populations and their continuing federal protection under BGEPA and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The opposition to delisting the eagle reveals how certain groups care more about using the ESA to stop development and line their pockets with money from lawsuits, than with actually recovering species. There are many other species that are recovering and should be considered for delisting and I hope that the administration steps up the review process to determine which other species should join the Bald Eagle."

Related Link:

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service: Bald Eagle Soars Off Endangered Species List  

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Inhofe Opening Statement: Examining Global Warming Issues in the Power Plant Sector

Opening Statement of Senator James Inhofe

Full Committee hearing on "Examining Global Warming Issues in the Power Plant Sector"

June 28, 2007

Madame Chairman, we have never had a legislative hearing to examine the many proposed climate bills, and this hearing is no exception. But at least today we are discussing some broad concepts. So I would like to thank you for taking a half-step forward and urge you to take the next half-step. To date, we have had a dozen hearings talking endlessly about how urgent and important this issue is, and I believe that they have been useless and a complete waste of time.

For instance, we had a hearing to examine perspectives of religious leaders and little was learned. Indeed, you used the hearing to imply one of our witnesses of misrepresenting the views of the Southern Baptists Convention. But in a direct vindication of his statements, on June 13, the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) approved a resolution on global warming that questions the belief that humans are largely to blame for the phenomenon and also warns that increased regulation of greenhouse gases will hurt the poor.

Madame Chairman, you need to hurry if you want to pass legislation and you should have hearings on each of the bills. Just last month, it was discovered that increasing wind shear from warming will reduce hurricanes, not increase them. Increasingly, prominent scientists are beginning to reject the global warming hype. Some recent converts include Paleoclimatologist Dr. Ian D. Clark, professor of the Department of Earth Sciences at University of Ottawa, Mathematician & engineer Dr. David Evans, who did carbon accounting for the Australian Government, and Climate scientist Dr. Chris de Freitas of The University of Auckland, New Zealand.

But I cannot believe the Senate will pass cap and trade mandates. According to MIT, the Lieberman-McCain bill will impose costs on our energy sector that are passed onto consumers equal to $3500 per family. The Sanders-Boxer bill would be equal to $4500 per family.

Hopefully, today’s hearing will be more constructive than past hearings. I strongly disagree with the approach being taken by the 3 utilities represented here today. But I want to be clear – as Ronald Reagan used to say, “my 80-percent ally is not my 20-percent enemy.”

I have long been a sturdy supporter of our energy sector and championed legislation that would increase our supplies and minimize regulatory costs. In fact, when I chaired this Committee, one of the witnesses today, Jim Rogers, testified in favor of my Clear Skies bill. Welcome, Mr. Rogers.

While we disagreed then and now about the need for regulating carbon dioxide, we shared the view that 70 percent cuts in air pollution could be achieved if we were smart about it. A key aspect of that legislation is something that too often gets sugar-coated in this debate – we cannot get ahead of the technology and we must not disrupt energy markets.

I also believe our nation needs more energy and more diverse energy. While we continue to move toward greater efficiency, we will continue to need more energy to supply our growing nation. We need more nuclear generation, more natural gas exploration, more coal and more hydro. We need clean coal and coal-to-liquids. And the legislation I have supported makes it clear that I back up my beliefs with action.

The Edison Electric Institute has said that any mandatory legislation should be economy-wide. I agree with the sentiment that the utility industry should not be singled out for special treatment.

As I go through the list of things where we agree and disagree, when it comes to a utility that parts company with me on this issue, I consider it to be my 80 percent ally. Madame Chairman, I guess that means you probably belong in the 20 percent range.

Energy is the most fundamental ingredient of America’s economic engine. Our nation has done a poor job in keeping supply up and costs down. I would add that the energy bill we just passed does little to increase supply, but much to increase costs. Likewise, carbon cap and trade schemes would decrease supply while driving costs through the roof.

Ultimately, that means more costs passed onto the consumer in the form of higher prices. That is really what today’s hearing is all about – how much will carbon schemes cost and who will bear the burden of these higher costs?

As each of our utility witnesses speak today, I would like to hear their views as to the issue of economy-wide versus utility specific, the differences between regulating carbon where the technologies are in their infancy and regulating something such as sulfur dioxide where the technologies are mature? And I would like all the witnesses to discuss the elephant in the living room – costs to consumers and jobs moving to China, the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases on the planet.

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June 25, 2007


WASHINGTON, DC – Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Ranking Member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, today lauded the Supreme Court’s ruling on the “National Association of Home Builders et al. V. Defenders of Wildlife et al." The Court’s 5-4 ruling overturned the Ninth Circuit decision that would have allowed the Endangered Species Act (ESA) to override other federal environmental laws by forbidding the Environmental Protection Agency from delegating water pollution control authority to the state of Arizona based on possible indirect effects to threatened and endangered species. 

“Today’s Supreme Court ruling limiting the scope of the Endangered Species Act is a huge victory for states’ rights and property owners in America. The Court took a strong stand against judicial activism in overturning a Ninth Circuit Court decision that would have essentially voided a section of the Clean Water Act,” Senator Inhofe said. 

“While Defenders of Wildlife and others may want the Endangered Species Act to trump all other environmental laws, the Supreme Court has once again reaffirmed that it is the Constitutional duty of Congress to write the nation’s laws; not for the courts to reinterpret statutes to add requirements that are clearly not there.”


Under section 402(b) of the Clean Water Act, EPA is required to transfer permitting authority to a state if that state meets nine statutory requirements.  In the case, Defenders of Wildlife argued that compliance with section 7(a)(2) of the Endangered Species Act, effectively adds a 10th statutory requirement, thus preventing the state of Arizona from having the authority to manage of its own water pollution control program.  Section 7(a)(2) requires federal agencies to consult the Department of Commerce or the Department of Interior to assure that a proposed agency action is unlikely to jeopardize an endangered or threatened species.  

The Court held that this requirement applies only to discretionary actions by the agencies and because “the transfer of National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permitting authority is not discretionary, but rather is mandated once a State has met the criteria set forth in section 402(b) of the Clean Water Act, it follows that a transfer of NPDES permitting authority does not trigger section 7(a)(2)’s consultation and no-jeopardy requirements.” 

The Justices went on to note that, “[r]ead broadly, the Ninth Circuit’s construction would also partially override every federal statute mandating agency action by subjecting such action to the further condition that it not jeopardize listed species.” 

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Inhofe Opening Statement: Protecting Water Quality at America's Beaches

Opening Statement of Senator James Inhofe

Subcommittee on Transportation, Infrastructure, Security, and Water Quality hearing on

“Protecting Water Quality at America’s Beaches”

June 27, 2007

Thank you Chairman Lautenberg for holding this hearing.  While my state of Oklahoma is not required to comply with the Beach Act of 2000, Oklahoma did adopt EPA’s 1986 bacteria criteria for recreational waters.  Therefore, I am quite interested in EPA’s progress in developing new criteria which it was mandated by the Beach Act to have done by October 2005. 

The Beach Act has been very successful in increasing the public’s awareness of potential problems at their local beaches.  In 1997, 1,000 beaches were monitored for pathogen indicators.  Thanks to the Beach Act, 3,500 of the nation’s 6,000 beaches are now regularly monitored providing potentially valuable information to the public about the safety of these recreational waters. 

However, the information we are getting may not be accurately predicting the risk to people swimming in the water. According to a recent Government Accountability Report, local officials at 96 percent of the beaches in the Great Lakes states indicated it took between 18 and 36 hours to get test results back.  By the time the beach is closed, the contamination has likely cleared up negating the need to close the beach but potentially having left the visitors from the previous day exposed.  EPA is in the process of developing rapid response testing procedures.  Further, our Chairman, as well as our two colleagues from the House each have bills that include provisions addressing real time testing.  While having access to quick information is important, we need to be sure we are testing for the right indicators. 

The Beach Act required EPA to finalize new criteria because of significant concerns raised about its 1986 criteria that all coastal states and many inland states have now adopted.  It is important to look at some of the issues raised regarding the criteria so that similar mistakes are not repeated.  

In its 2002 water quality assessment report to EPA, Oklahoma had more than 5,300 miles of rivers and streams impaired by pathogens.  It is the state’s number one cause of impairments to rivers and streams and yet, like many inland states, Oklahoma has not seen a level of illness consistent with the impairments.  Part of the problem may be that gastrointestinal illnesses often go unreported to health officials and an individual may assume the illness was brought on by something he ate as opposed to the day at the beach.  However, the states have questioned the applicability of the criteria to all waters as well as whether the criteria adequately reflect daily exposure risks.

Furthermore, As GAO noted in its May 2007 report on the Beaches Act, according to EPA scientists, E.Coli may not be a good indicator because it occurs naturally in many environments.  Additionally, on many remote coastal beaches, the bacteria are from animals which are largely believed to pose much less risk to humans than those from other humans. 

With so many questions and concerns about the current criteria, it is critical that the new criteria be correct.  Beaches across the country are being closed every day and as one of today’s witnesses points out, it is costing states and local governments significant recreation dollars.  To test, monitor and treat for the wrong bacteria will not only cost time and resources but it will not result in an improvement in public health.   While Agencies should absolutely meet their statutory deadlines, I am quite concerned about rushing the process and sacrificing science in order to more quickly develop new criteria. 

The Government Accounting Office recommended EPA develop a time frame for the completion of these much needed studies and for the issuance of the new criteria.  EPA has indicated that it may take as many as five years to complete the studies.  The Agency recently convened a panel of 40 experts to determine the best path forward and I believe EPA is heading in the right direction.  While we may all want answers tomorrow, we need to give the Agency the time it needs to develop scientifically sound criteria.

I look forward to working with the Agency and my colleagues as we look at whether the Beach Act should be reauthorized and how to ensure the nation’s recreational waters are safe.

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