Friday, March 26, 2010

Watch/Read: Inhofe Welcomes NGVAmerica President Kolodziej to EPW Committee

Senator Inhofe welcomed Richard Kolodziej, president of NGVAmerica, to testify at the March 24 hearing on transportation policy. Senator Inhofe has been a leader on promoting bipartisan policies to encourage the growth of natural gas and propane powered vehicles since 2008.

Inhofe With NGVAmerica President Richard Kolodziej

Watch: Kolodziej Testimony Before EPW Committee

Watch: Inhofe-Kolodziej Discuss Bipartisan Support for NGVs

"There is no question about the supply of natural gas - we have plenty of it and we can develop it ," Inhofe said. "Last year, the Potential Gas Committee released its latest assessment showing that America possesses 2,047 trillion cubic feet of natural gas - an increase of more than 35 percent just since the Committee's 2006 estimate.  At today's rate of use, this is enough natural gas to meet American demand for 90 years.  Just this January, the Department of Energy released new statistics showing that the United States had eclipsed Russia as the world's largest producer of natural gas."

During the hearing, Senator Inhofe highlighted the growing bipartisan support for NGV cars in a question to Kolodziej, asking, "I would like to say to you Mr. Kolodziej that we've been working on this for so long, and I appreciate the comments that you made. We have bureaucratic obstacles, and quite frankly the EPA is helping us, working with us right now. As you know, in my home town we have Tom Sewall, who has developed technologies that he's actually selling to other countries. He's doing conversions along with the home units-you can convert your own natural gas to compressed natural gas. So, we're making some headway there. And you're right, I just want to make sure everyone knows that those who are supporting our legislation to do this are Harry Reid, Orrin Hatch, Robert Menendez, Mark Begich, Mark Pryor, Lisa Murkowski, and myself and others. So, the question to ask you, just a yes or no question, have you ever seen anything that is enjoying that kind of bipartisan support?" Kolodziej responded "No."


In 2008, when gasoline prices were above $4 per gallon, Senator Inhofe was the first in Congress to introduce a comprehensive bill, The Drive America on Natural Gas Act, to promote the use of natural gas and propane as a realistic alternative for the many Americans who were looking for price relief. 

In 2009 Senator Inhofe joined with Senator Pryor to once again introduce a comprehensive bill, The Fueling America Act of 2009, to promote these fuels for America's drivers.  Further, in October, Senators Wicker and Inhofe introduced legislation, the Streamline Alternative Fuel Vehicle Conversions Act, to simplify the EPA emissions certification process for aftermarket fuel conversion systems.  Senator Landrieu is now a cosponsor of that bill.

Climategate Shows Theres No Global Warming Consensus

U.S. News and World Report

Climategate Shows There's No Global Warming Consensus

By Senator Inhofe

March 23, 2010

Link to Op-Ed

Link to EPW Committee Minority Report on Climategate

Call it the global warming crackup, an unfolding proc­ess of contradictory claims about glaciers, weather, and scientists asserting a consensus when none exists. Global warming alarmists can't make up their minds because the entire basis for their energy rationing project has collapsed into a mess of errors, exaggerations, and deceit. Let me explain.

The Obama administration said the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is the "gold standard" for climate science, yet now the Environmental Protection Agency administrator won't defend it. The IPCC and Al Gore won the Nobel Peace Prize. Now the IPCC has retracted several false claims concerning, among other things, rain forests shrinking, crops dying, and sea levels rising. We've been told weather is not to be confused with climate, except when you have heat waves or blizzards. We've been told cap-and-trade would create thousands of green jobs, yet the Congressional Budget Office, Department of Energy, National Black Chamber of Commerce, and others say it would mean a net loss of jobs.

We are told that increasing levels of CO2 will increase temperature, yet the key scientist in the climategate scandal says there's been "no statistically significant warming" in the past 15 years-all while CO2 levels have increased. We've been told that there is an "indisputable consensus" that human-caused global warming is happening and pushing the planet to certain disaster. Yet that same scientist-Phil Jones, former director of Britain's Climatic Research Unit, the foremost such center-now says that the vast majority of climate scientists don't agree on what the data are telling us.

What's going on here? When thousands of E-mails were released from the Climatic Research Unit in November, we finally were able to pull back the veil of the so-called climate consensus. As ranking member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, I have released a minority staff report that uses these E-mails to show that the world's leading climate scientists apparently discussed manipulating data to fit preconceived conclusions and pressuring journal editors not to publish scientific work contrary to their own. This would violate fundamental ethical principles guiding scientific (and taxpayer-funded) research and, our report points out, may violate federal laws.

The E-mail controversy has been airily dismissed by the Obama administration as nothing more than scientists "lacking interpersonal skills." One Democratic senator called it a "little E-mail squabble." The evidence proves otherwise. At the center of the controversy were the same scientists who wrote and edited the IPCC's reports-the reports alarmists claim form the climate science "consensus." Moreover, those reports provide the critical basis for cap-and-trade legislation and the EPA's endangerment finding regarding greenhouse gases. Yet climategate shows what I've asserted all along: The basis for those disastrous policies is flawed and should be thrown out.

Unfortunately, that's not what EPA is doing. It wants $43.5 million in new funding to regulate greenhouse gases. This is seed money for the most economically destructive regulatory initiative in this nation's history.

Back in 2005, I gave a speech urging reforms at the IPCC, trying to get the United Nations body to produce reliable, objective science. But the IPCC ignored my recommendations. And now, after several embarrassing gaffes-for example, stating falsely that Himalayan glaciers would melt by 2035-the calls for reform are deafening.

My minority report shows the world's leading climate scientists acting like political scientists, with an agenda disconnected from the principles of good science. And it shows that there is no consensus-except agreement there are significant gaps in what scientists know about the climate system. It's time for the administration to recognize this. Its endangerment finding rests on bad science. It should throw out that finding and abandon greenhouse gas regulation under the Clean Air Act-a policy that will mean fewer jobs, higher taxes, and economic decline. 

Senators Send Bipartisan Letter Urging EPA Action on Lead Rule

Senator Inhofe, along with several Senators, last night sent a bipartisan letter to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) urging OMB to ensure compliance with EPA's Lead: Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule. The Senators wrote, "We strongly urge OMB to take whatever actions necessary in the next 26 days to ensure that when this rule goes into effect, there are enough certified renovators available to meet the compliance goals of the rule."                                              


Starting on April 22, 2010, renovation work that disturbs more than six square feet in target housing must be supervised by a certified renovator and performed by a certified renovation firm. In its economic analysis of the rule, EPA estimated that it would need to certify 236,000 renovators between April 2009 and April 2010. According to EPA, the agency has certified only 50,000 renovators, well below EPA's estimated 236,000 needed to meet the requirements of the rule.  Additionally there are several states - Oklahoma,  Louisiana, South Dakota, Wyoming, West Virginia--and the District of Columbia, which currently have no approved trainers.

U.S. Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works, joined Senators Mike Crapo (R- ID), David Vitter (R-LA), George  Voinovich (R-OH),  Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Chuck  Grassley (R-IA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), John Barrasso (R-WY), Christopher Bond (R-MO) and John Thune (R-SD) in signing the letter.


The letter echoes concerns raised in recent letters sent to OMB from Senators Byron Dorgan (D-ND), Kent Conrad (D-ND), and a bipartisan group of members in the House of Representatives. Further, Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) urged EPA to come up with a solution that will ensure that contractors have the opportunity to come into compliance with this rule and that children's health is protected at a recent hearing of the EPW Subcommittee on Children's Health.

The issue has also been raised before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. In testimony before the committee on March 11, Bob Hanbury, speaking on behalf of the National Association of Homebuilders, raised concerns about "potential conflicts between Home Star and an environmental rule - e.g., the EPA's Lead: Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule (LRRP) - that may create a serious compliance problem whereby it becomes illegal to work on any pre-1978 without certification by EPA in Lead Safe Work Practices (LSWP) as of April 22, 2010."

The construction and renovation industry has lost nearly 2 million jobs since the recession started.  Unemployment in construction and renovation jumped to 24.7 percent, more than double the national rate of 9.7 percent.  The sector is expecting that another 5 percent of construction workers will lose their jobs in 2010.  Currently, EPA has only 184 accredited training providers and 50,000 certified renovators nationwide.  EPA believes it can train 100,000 renovators by the April deadline-this is less than half of the required 236,000, well short of what's needed to carry out millions of renovations annually.  In addition, EPA has stated that the certification process takes six weeks or more to complete.  Industry estimates that over 200,000 renovators still need to be certified before the April 22, 2010 deadline.

In addition to last night's letter, Senators Inhofe and Vitter have sent letters (here) and (here) to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson regarding the pace at which EPA was certifying trainers and training facilities. 

Inhofe Comments on EPA Drinking Water Proposal

Senator Inhofe commented Monday, March 22 on the announcement by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on a new approach to regulation of drinking water:

"EPA's goal to strengthen protection for the drinking water Americans use is both laudable and necessary, and one that I certainly share," Sen. Inhofe said.  "I am concerned, however, by the manner in which EPA is attempting to achieve this goal.  Using the Safe Drinking Water Act to ‘leverage' other statutes that regulate chemicals is not the most effective way to provide safe drinking water or regulate chemicals.  In the coming weeks, I will be seeking information from the agency as to how it developed this proposal, including how well EPA assessed the impact on small, rural drinking water systems, many of which cannot afford to meet existing standards, and whether it engaged and sought input from stakeholders such as farmers and small businesses." 


In February, Senator Inhofe introduced the Small System Drinking Water Act of 2010, a bill to assist water systems in Oklahoma and throughout the country in complying with Federal drinking water standards, and require the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to utilize all of its resources provided by the 1996 Safe Drinking Water Act amendments (SDWA).

Watch/Read: Obama Administration Restates Opposition to Gas Tax Increase

The Obama Administration restated its opposition to a gas tax increase during an EPW hearing Wednesday, March 24. Senator Inhofe asked Deputy Secretary of Transportation John Porcari if the Obama Administration remained opposed to a gas tax increase, including one tied to a cap-and-trade program. Porcari said, "That is still...the  position, and I would add, Senator, as we are in the beginning stages of a recovery it is as important as ever to make sure that that recovery is accelerated in every way possible." 


Houston Chronicle: Republican senator decries industry-backed carbon fee on fuel

Read/Watch: Hearing on Energy Security and the Environment through Transportation Policy

The Administration's opposition shows that the so-called "linked fee"-which is a gas tax-the level of which is tied to the price of tradable allowances in a cap-and-trade program, lacks the support needed to pass as part of global warming legislation. To be sure, as gas prices approach $3.00 a gallon, and potentially climb higher in the summer driving season, consumers will have little appetite for paying more at the pump. 

Transcript from Wednesday's hearing:

Sen. Inhofe: First of all, I think there is an area where we all agree, I know the Chairman and I do, and I think also from the information that we've got from Secretary LaHood that he does, and that is-they were talking about in this proposed bill that we still haven't seen and may never surface, the Kerry-Graham-Lieberman bill-they talk about the linked fee, and what they're talking about is an increased gas tax. We've had conversations amongst ourselves up here and of course hearings with Secretary LaHood.  And the statement he had made was, "With these hard economic times, President Obama, and the Administration, does not believe that raising the gas tax is good for Americans who are out of work and can least afford the gas tax being raised.  We will stand by that."  I would ask that if you agree, if that is still a good statement and the position of the President?

Deputy Secretary of Transportation John D. Porcari: "That is still...the  position, and I would add, Senator, as we are in the beginning stages of a recovery it is as important as ever to make sure that that recovery is accelerated in every way possible." 


During an EPW Committee hearing last July, Senator Inhofe raised the question about the Obama administration's position on increasing the gas tax as well. Secretary LaHood dismissed increasing the gas tax, as did Senator Boxer.

Transcript from July 14, 2009 EPW Hearing

In the News . . . Tension - Senators at odds - Skeptical - Risk Averse

 Inhofe EPW News Roundup

The Hill:  Graham: Health vote saps red state Dem support for climate change legislation  (03/25/10) - Sen. Lindsey Graham has added a new wrinkle to his argument that healthcare's passage toughens chances for climate change legislation.  Graham (R-S.C.) told reporters Thursday that Democrats from conservative states will now be less likely to embrace the climate effort now that they've cast a tough vote on healthcare "I think it creates risk aversion," he told reporters after the Senate passed a package of changes to the health care law. Graham singled out Democratic Sens. Blanche Lincoln, Jon Tester and Ben Nelson as being less likely to vote for climate change. "Go talk to Blanche Lincoln. 'Hey, you want to do energy and climate? You want to do immigration?' Go talk to [Jon]Tester, to Ben Nelson, give them a shout-out," he said. "I just think the idea of doing hard things has been tainted because the blowback they are getting on health care has made them risk averse."

Congress Daily: Cantwell-Collins Duo Skeptical Of Trio (03/24/10)  - While a trio of senators this week is still piecing together a potential deal on climate and energy that could begin to be drafted over the upcoming two-week spring break, one bipartisan Senate duo is not yet convinced and may siphon off much-needed support for that effort. Sens. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, are still pushing for their alternative "cap-and-dividend" idea that would avoid setting up a new carbon trading market. They say their plan, which has been well-received by some energy experts, avoids the volatility and speculation that has skewed oil and other commodity markets, while including a direct refund for consumers based on revenue generated from charging businesses for emissions. It is also, they say, far simpler than the cap-and-trade plan the House passed last year.  "I think that the public is tired of 2,000-page-plus bills and wants a bill that is more straightforward in its approach," Collins told a gathering hosted by the Bipartisan Policy Center today.

NYT:  Dare not speak its name . . . Tracing the demise of cap-and-trade (03/25/10) - Less than a year ago, cap and trade was the policy of choice for tackling climate change. Environmental groups and their foes in industry joined hands to embrace the approach, a market-driven system that sets a ceiling on global warming pollution while allowing companies to trade permits to meet it. President Obama praised it by name in his first budget, and the authors of the House climate and energy bill passed last June largely built their measure around it. Today, the concept is in wide disrepute, with opponents effectively branding it “cap and tax,” and Tea Party followers using it as a symbol of much of what they say is wrong with Washington.

FOOD FIGHT: Senate bill allocation fight expected to go down to the wire (03/26/10)  - The food fight is just getting started. Senators cobbling together a sweeping energy and climate bill are at the early stages of divvying up valuable emission allocations among regulated firms and well-financed interest groups. Their decisions are big ones, worth hundreds of billions of dollars over the climate program's roughly 40-year lifespan. Already, lawmakers are fighting over who should get a bigger share of the allowances, as well as the broader philosophical mechanics of pricing greenhouse gases. Interests pressing for Senate allocations run the gamut. Investor-owned power companies say they need more than a third of the free allocations for their customers to help them compensate for higher energy bills.

Wash. Post: Senators at odds over climate bill (03/24/10) - Two U.S. senators who have been part of negotiations on climate change legislation this year said on Wednesday they disagree with the carbon emissions reduction approach being developed in a compromise bill. Democratic Senator Maria Cantwell and Republican Senator Susan Collins late last year offered a streamlined "cap and dividend" bill to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions blamed for global warming.  It is competing against a more complex "cap and trade" bill passed by the House of Representatives last June and a more limited cap and trade compromise being worked on by a bipartisan group of senators. "We probably still have a difference of opinion on creation of trading platforms," Cantwell told reporters. "There are some who believe that you actually have to have trading to have liquidity," she added. "I think a clear price market signal without volatility will unleash the investment."

Washington Examiner: Editorial: Obama's EPA stifles new energy gains (03/19/10) - It would be simpler if President Obama leveled with energy industry officials and the American people and admitted he's doing everything in his power to suffocate this country's ability to find and develop critically needed new energy supplies. But instead of being honest about it, Obama hides behind misleading rhetoric about the wonders of "green" energy, even as his minions erect a multitude of new bureaucratic roadblocks to the development of the oil and natural gas resources needed to keep American homes heated, factories humming, and laptops processing. These new resources could also create millions of new jobs, generate trillions of dollars in tax revenues, and spark economic expansion in rural areas like western Pennsylvania and upstate New York that have known only decline for generations.

Democrat: Obama's energy and ag policies not selling in rural America (03/23/10) - It is convenient for some to see the results of the 2006 and 2008 elections as a mandate for the enactment of a more extreme progressive agenda.  In actuality, many of the Democratic victories in those elections were won in moderate, rural communities - places where traditional liberal policies are not popular.   Recent polls show that only 23% of American voters consider themselves "liberal," and I am confident this percentage is much lower in rural America.  The same polls tell us that some 77% consider themselves either "moderate" or "conservative."  The fact is, all members are going to be facing a tough election cycle this year - and it will be made even tougher because the policies pursued by many of them have lost the approval of most moderate voters. 

Meetings and meetings but no text in sight (03/24/10) - Senate meetings on planned climate and energy legislation continued at a fast clip Wednesday but the bill's architects - Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) - are not far along enough to release a long-awaited draft before the Spring recess that begins Monday. There were at least two sets of meetings in the Capitol Wednesday afternoon and evening. The chairmen of several committees with jurisdiction over climate and energy huddled with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) in his office. And later Kerry, Graham and Lieberman briefed freshman Democrats on the plan the three are crafting.

E&E: Graham bids to ease tensions over competing Senate bills (03/25/2010) - Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) tried to defuse simmering tensions today over competing climate change bills that threaten to upend the global warming debate before it can even reach the floor. In an interview, Graham said he welcomes legislation from Sens. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) that takes an alternative approach for setting up a pricing system on industrial releases of greenhouse gases. Cantwell and Collins yesterday criticized Graham and Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) for taking some of their ideas and also for spending months in closed-door talks on the issue but not yet producing any official legislative text.

E&E: Senate compromises frighten, infuriate some enviro groups (03/22/2010) - But after the House passed a sweeping climate bill last June, the effort stalled in the Senate. And now environmentalists are being asked to agree to painful compromises that senators say are needed to get something -- anything, really -- across the finish line. "We're not sure what we're getting now," said Erich Pica, president of Friends of the Earth U.S. Jacqueline Savitz, senior campaign director for the marine conservation group Oceana, said she's unhappy with a plan emerging from Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) -- the three lead Senate climate negotiators -- to open up the nation's coastlines for offshore oil and gas drilling. "We've always felt there's no place for expanding drilling in a climate bill," Savitz said. "That's not to say we're going to stop the drilling overnight.

BNA: Collins Wants to Avoid Market Speculation (03/25/10)  - Collins told those attending the Bipartisan Policy Center forum that she and Cantwell want to avoid creating a "huge new carbon market that would be susceptible to speculation and manipulation." By placing their carbon cap upstream on fossil fuel producers, "you prevent those that are neither producers nor users from getting into the market and manipulating it," the senator said. The Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts concluded in a March 24 study that the Cantwell-Collins approach would have relatively modest impacts on household energy costs, in part because the bill includes significant rebates to consumers. A carbon price of $25 per ton would translate to per capita annual payments of $297, which would more than compensate them for increased energy costs triggered by the bill's carbon caps. However, those net benefits would vary by state, according to the study, "Clear Economics: State-Level Impacts of the Carbon Limits and Energy for American's Renewal Act on Family Income and Jobs."

The Hill: Coal fight could see Washington repeat (03/24/10) - A fight in Colorado over legislation that could require the state's largest utility to switch from coal to cleaner-burning natural gas may be a precursor to a bigger battle in Washington over climate legislation.  Coal lobbyists view Colorado as a test case because they worry a trio of senators is also considering extra incentives to encourage utilities to replace older coal-fired power  plants with facilities that use natural gas or other electricity sources like solar and wind energy to lower greenhouse gas emissions. In Colorado, the target is another pollutant, nitrogen oxide, which raises haze and ozone levels that can lead to respiratory problems. Gov. Bill Ritter (D), state lawmakers and Xcel Energy announced a plan earlier this month to require the utility to reduce nitrogen oxide levels by as much as 80 percent by 2017.

WSJ: France backs down on Carbon Tax, Europe-Wide or not at all ! (03/24/10) -  PARIS--France is backing down from a plan to tax carbon-dioxide emissions that had been a central plank of President Nicolas Sarkozy's push for a more prominent role in the global fight against climate change. The plan, launched last September, has been on the back burner since being ruled unconstitutional in December. Mr. Sarkozy's government had insisted a reworked tax would nonetheless go into force by July. Leading conservative legislator Jean-François Copé said after meeting the prime minister Tuesday that they agreed that any carbon tax "would be Europe-wide or not [exist] at all," instead of being a French-only tax.