March 12, 2008
On Wednesday, Senator Inhofe commented on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) revision of the National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for ozone to .075 ppm (parts per million).
“Today’s announcement by EPA will have a severe economic impact on Oklahoma and the nation for too little environmental gain” Senator Inhofe said. “Despite the fact that air pollution levels across the United States are at an all time low and our nation’s air quality continues to improve, EPA decided to further tighten the standard. The consequence of the Rule means that hundreds of counties across the country – which have worked long and hard to come into compliance with the current standard – will once again face potential stiff federal penalties, lose highway dollars, and become unattractive places to locate new businesses.
“I am proud of the tremendous progress Oklahoma has made in cleaning up its air. Currently, not a single county in Oklahoma is in violation of the ozone standards. But this new standard will put a number of counties in the State into non-attainment. How can EPA, which considers states like Oklahoma to have clean air, suddenly declare the air unhealthy – even as their pollution levels continue to plummet? The nine counties in Oklahoma that will potentially be in violation of the new ozone standard include Canadian, Cherokee, Comanche, Creek, Kay, Mayes, Oklahoma, Ottawa and Tulsa counties.
“EPA’s timing could not be worse as various economic stimulus packages are proposed to counter fears of a weakening national economy. While EPA is precluded from considering costs in setting a standard, the sheer economic magnitude of this rule demands that only the highest quality science be used. This rule will impose a significant economic burden across the country, with the disadvantaged among the hardest hit. Implementing this new standard may help trigger layoffs nationwide, further impair U.S. economic competiveness and add to inflationary pressures. It is ironic that as concerns over our economy grow, EPA would shackle our nation’s counties and states with burdensome regulations based on weak science.
“A more reasonable approach to improving our nation’s air quality is to enforce existing ozone standards. That is why I introduced the Clean Air Attainment Enforcement bill in 2007. My bill focuses on getting areas with truly dirty air into compliance with existing law. The current 8-hour ozone NAAQS remains sufficient to protect public health with an adequate margin of safety.”
Senator Inhofe re-introduced his Clean Air Attainment Enforcement bill in July 2007. The bill would amend the Clean Air Act to strengthen penalties on major emission sources in the most polluted areas of the country that fail to meet clean air standards by the attainment deadlines under the current Clean Air Act. The bill is a narrow amendment that targets only those areas of the country that are out of compliance with multiple pollutants and will not come into compliance by their attainment deadlines. By specifically targeting the dirtiest areas, Senator Inhofe’s legislation ensures that the costs are reasonable in relation to the enormous health benefits.
Toxicologist Dr. Roger O. McClellan testified before the EPW Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety on July 11, 2007, stating: “In my professional judgment, the Administrator’s ‘proposed decision to revise the existing 8-hour O3 primary standard by lowering the level to within a range from 0.070 to 0.075 ppm’ is a policy judgment based on a flawed and inaccurate presentation of the science that should inform the policy decision.” (LINK)
In addition, Mayor George Grace of St. Gabriel, Louisiana, testified at the same EPW hearing, expressing concerns over the potential tightening of NAAQS ozone standards. “EPA’s own data show that between 1970 and 2006, total emissions of the six principal air pollutants dropped by 54 percent,” Grace testified. “The National Conference of Black Mayors is committed to a clean environment and improved air quality for our communities. However, I’d like to stress that air quality is not the only thing that impacts the health of the people we represent. The health and welfare of our communities is also dependant on having good jobs, economic growth and the quality of life that goes with it,” Grace explained. (LINK)
March 14, 2008
Senator Inhofe issued the following statement on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) analysis of the America's Climate Security Act – S. 2191 (Lieberman-Warner) global warming cap-and-trade bill.
“The EPA economic analysis released today is consistent with multiple studies that expose that the Lieberman-Warner for what it is: a job killer,” Senator Inhofe said. “If Democrats have their way, Americans will pay significantly more at the pump, in their homes, and in many cases, with their jobs. No matter how anyone attempts to spin the economic impacts, this bill is wrong for America. Even using optimistic assumptions of increased nuclear plant generation and deployment of carbon capture and storage, Lieberman-Warner would still cost up to $983 billion in 2030 with a 44% increase in electricity prices.
“Further, Democrats made clear this week their refusal to do anything to help alleviate the economic pain of this bill. With liberal special interest groups at her side, Senator Boxer announced that Democrats would not allow any amendments during the bill’s floor debate to lessen the devastating economic impacts. As a result, this bill now appears to be headed for a cameo appearance on the Senate floor before being tabled for a future Congress.”
1.8 MILLION JOBS MAY BE LOST BY 2020, NEW STUDY SAYS; Meanwhile Democrats Vow to Fight Any Attempt to Lessen the Blow of Lieberman-Warner Job Killing Bill
March 13, 2008
If Democrats have their way in passing global warming legislation this year, the United States “would lose between 1.2 and 1.8 million jobs in 2020 and between 3 and 4 million jobs in 2030," according to a new study conducted by Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC). Job losses would result because of “lower industrial output due to higher energy prices, the high cost of complying with required emissions cuts, and greater competition from overseas manufacturers with lower energy costs.” The new study comes at a time when the beleaguered Lieberman-Warner climate bill (S.2191 - America's Climate Security Act) looks to be headed for a cameo appearance on the Senate floor in June only to be shelved and passed on to another Congress. (See: Boxer Waves White Flag on Lieberman-Warner Climate Bill )
The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and the American Council for Capital Formation (ACCF) released the SAIC study today highlighting the damaging economic impacts of the Lieberman-Warner global warming cap-and-trade bill.
The enormous costs outlined in the new study come as federal stimulus packages are being passed and the Federal Reserve is attempting to invigorate the economy.
Nevertheless, Democrats made clear this week their intention not to support any amendments to help reduce the numbers of jobs lost or skyrocketing energy costs. Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW) Chairman Barbara Boxer declared the Lieberman-Warner bill would be pulled from the June 2008 scheduled Senate floor debate if “weakening amendments” were added. (LINK)
EPW Ranking Member Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.), responded, “This should send a chilling message to any Senator who wishes to make any changes to the bill to lessen the economic impact on their constituents." Senator Inhofe continued, "As Chairman Boxer is aware, several amendments designed to protect the economy and to deploy low emission energy sources like nuclear are likely to pass during a floor debate. Even ardent supporters of cap-and-trade in the business community, notably Jim Rogers, CEO of Duke Energy, believe this bill is the wrong approach for America.” (LINK)
The comprehensive NAM and ACCF study assesses the harmful economic costs of the Lieberman-Warner bill on future energy costs, economic growth, employment, production, household income and low income earners.
The NAM/ACCF study is the latest in a long series of studies revealing the massive harmful impact of Lieberman-Warner and other global warming cap-and-trade proposals. See: New CBO Study Further Exposes Cap-and-Trade Flaws; NEW ANALYSIS: CARBON MANDATE WOULD HARM CONSUMERS, JOBS AND ECONOMY; U.S. Chamber of Commerce's new TV 30 Second ad opposing the Lieberman-Warner bill; Lieberman-Warner will lead to ‘higher energy prices, lost jobs and reduced GDP'; Lieberman-Warner Climate Bill Meets Resistance from Unexpected Sources; Cutting Emissions May Cost U.S. Economy Up to $1.8 Trillion; and Senators Propose $4500 Climate Tax on American Families.
From the Study:
The NAM/ACCF study also found that “higher energy prices would have ripple impacts on prices throughout the economy and would impose a financial cost of $739 to $2,927 per year by 2020 on national households, rising to $4,022 to $6,752 by 2030.”
The study also found that “most energy prices would rise under [Lieberman-Warner], particularly, coal, oil, and natural gas.” According to the study, “the price of gasoline would increase between 60% and 144% by 2030, while electricity prices would increase by 77% to 129%.”
“US consumers would pay between 84% and 146% more for their natural gas by 2030,” the study found.
Echoing a previous CBO study, the NAM ACCF study found Lieberman-Warner would disproportionally harm low income families.
“The impacts of [Lieberman-Warner] will be felt especially by the poor, who spend more of their income on energy and other goods than other income brackets. By 2020, higher energy prices mean that low income families (with average incomes less than $18,500) will spend between 19% and 22% of their income on energy under [Lieberman-Warner] compared to a projected 17% without [Lieberman-Warner]. Others on fixed incomes, such as the elderly, will also suffer disproportionately,” the study found. [Note: A 2006 survey of Colorado homeless families with children found that high energy bills were cited as one of the two main reasons they became homeless. - LINK]
In addition, the study found Lieberman-Warner’s impact on industry will take a heavy toll. Excerpt: “Some major economic sectors will be adversely hit by emission caps. By 2020, primary metals output would be reduced by between 15% and 19%; stone, glass, and clay products would be reduced by between 10% and 12%; motor vehicle manufacturing would be reduced by between 6% and 14%; and paper products would be reduced by between 5% and 7%. In addition, the general shift away from coal would result in a 35% reduction in coal production and electricity production would fall around 12%. These losses would be significantly higher by 2030 and would have a lasting impact on the economic base of the US.”
March 12, 2008
Environment and Public Works Committee Chair Barbara Boxer conceded on Wednesday that the Lieberman-Warner global warming cap-and-trade bill would be pulled if “weakening amendments” are added during the scheduled June 2008 floor debate. Boxer’s pledge today appeared to signal the 2008 exit strategy for pulling the Lieberman-Warner bill (America's Climate Security Act - S2191.) Greenwire reporter Darren Samuelsohn described Boxer as “pledging to punt the issue into 2009 if any amendments get added that weaken the legislation.”
“Boxer made combating global warming her top priority after she became chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee” reported an October 19, 2007 article in the Sacramento Bee. Political reality now appears to be denying Boxer the achievement of her “top priority” during the current Congress.
During today’s press conference, Boxer pledged to use the failed bill as a political tool during this election year.
“We will hold those who weakened it accountable in November,” Boxer said at a press conference with the heads of 15 environmental groups today. “We will pull the bill and bring back the legislation after we have a new Congress and a new President,” Boxer added, sounding a political warning to opponents of the bill. During the question and answer, Boxer said she would play “hardball” with Senators who vote against the bill.
[Note: Noticeably absent from today’s press conference were the bill’s authors, Senators Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and John Warner (R-VA). Also of note, not a single speaker during today’s press conference uttered the bill’s commonly referred-to name, “Lieberman-Warner.”]
Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Ranking Member of the Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW), commented on Boxer’s warning to her fellow lawmakers.
“This should send a chilling message to any Senator who wishes to make any changes to the bill to lessen the economic impact on their constituents,” Inhofe said.
Inhofe further commented on Boxer’s press conference today.
"It's clear from Chairman Boxer's comments today that she does not anticipate being able to move this bill this year," Inhofe said. "As Chairman Boxer is aware, several amendments designed to protect the economy and to deploy low emission energy sources like nuclear are likely to pass during a floor debate. Even ardent supporters of cap-and-trade in the business community, notably Jim Rogers, CEO of Duke Energy, believe this bill is the wrong approach for America. It's inconceivable to me that supporters of this bill would try to force upon Americans more burdensome regulations while China remains exempt,” Inhofe added.
[Note: Opponents of the bill include Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, prominent businessmen, and Senators normally open to cap-and-trade legislation like Senator John McCain (R-AZ) – LINK - See also: Lieberman-Warner Climate Bill Meets Resistance from Unexpected Sources ]
Today’s Greenwire also reported: “If anything, Boxer said she hoped to tack on amendments that strengthen the mid-century emission targets from around 70 percent to 80 percent.” Boxer’s pledge to stop “weakening amendments” and strengthen the bill appears to contradict several of the co-sponsors of the Lieberman-Warner bill. Dozens of amendments that were designed to protect the economy were deferred to the floor debate during the December 5, 2007, EPW Committee markup of Lieberman-Warner.
The co-sponsor of the bill, Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT), has not sounded as rigid regarding potential amendments to the bill. (See Greenwire December 11, 2007, article “Lieberman expects compromises during floor fight.” – LINK)
Montana Democratic Sen. Max Baucus, a co-sponsor of the bill, has also expressed willingness to compromise. Baucus “cautioned that several tricky items still need to be resolved, including the effect of mandatory greenhouse gas limits on U.S. competitiveness and trade policy. But he also suggested that any concerns would be addressed through floor amendments,” reported a December 6, 2007, article in Greenwire. "We'll work out those kinks, those wrinkles, those difficulties when we get to the floor and finally this legislation will pass by a very large margin," Baucus said. (LINK)
Another hurdle the Lieberman-Warner bill faces is the enormous costs it would impose on the U.S. economy during a time when federal stimulus packages are being passed and the Federal Reserve is attempting to stimulate the economy. Senator Lieberman conceded on November 1, 2007, that the bill would cost “hundreds of billions of dollars." (LINK) Other estimates have put the cost of the bill in the trillions of dollars. (LINK)
In addition, the CBO (Congressional Budget Office) has warned that the impact of cap-and-trade energy "price increases would disproportionately affect people at the lower end of the income scale.” (LINK)
The other controversial aspect of the Lieberman-Warner bill is the provision for a presidentially appointed “Carbon Market Efficiency Board” which would create an entirely new federal bureaucracy modeled after the Federal Reserve to help set the price on carbon emissions. Senator Kit Bond (R-MO) warned on December 5, 2007, “The first thing one notices is how extremely complicated and far-reaching this proposal is. Rube Goldberg would be proud.” Bond produced a color diagram to illustrate the burdensome new layers of federal bureaucracy that the Lieberman-Warner bill would mandate.
A March 10, 2008, Los Angeles Times editorial titled “California's cap-and-trade won't work,” lamented the focus on cap-and-trade legislation. “Carbon taxes are a simpler, harder to manipulate and less economically damaging way to make polluters pay the costs of their environmental damage than cap-and-trade,” the editorial stated. In addition, Bloomberg News has called efforts to promote the Lieberman-Warner bill a "vain pursuit" and weighed in with a breakdown of the growing "resistance" the bill faces. (LINK)
Today’s Greenwire article expanded on the lack of unity among environmental groups for this bill.
But two environmental groups were noticeably absent from the press conference: Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth. "While we have great respect for Senator Boxer and appreciate the leadership she is showing on global warming, it is premature to suggest that there is unity behind 'America's Climate Security Act' as introduced by Senators Lieberman and Warner," said John Passacantando, executive director of Greenpeace USA. "The legislation is more a reflection of the pitfalls of political compromise than a real solution to safeguard the planet." Friends of the Earth Action President Brent Blackwelder said his group's opposition to the legislation "is not just strategic, it is also substantive." The Lieberman-Warner plan does not push for sharp enough emission cuts and gives away too many free cap-and-trade emission credits to industry. "Additionally, Friends of the Earth Action strongly disagrees with the assertion that Senator John McCain supports a strong global warming bill," he said, referring to the presumptive Republican presidential nominee. "He does not yet support even this weak bill."
March 10, 2008
Senator Inhofe sent a letter on Monday to the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Stephen Johnson, urging the Administrator to provide “assurances to the American public that their drinking water is in fact safe to drink and that there is no immediate health risk.” Senator Inhofe sent the letter following press reports of trace amounts of pharmaceuticals found in drinking water supplies in several regions across the country. A link to the letter is available by clicking here and the text of the letter provided below.
“Serious concerns have been raised by the press regarding the safety of our nation’s drinking water,” Senator Inhofe said. “I believe it’s important for the EPA to provide assurance to the American public that their drinking water is in fact safe to drink and that there is no immediate health risk. As a result, I have written a letter to Administrator Johnson asking him to provide these assurances to the public as soon as possible as well as to create a group of appropriate state and federal experts to establish workable and reasonable measures to reduce public health risks from pharmaceutical disposal into water supplies. I am confident that EPA will take the necessary steps to ensure the public trust.”
Dear Administrator Johnson:
Due to the recent press attention pertaining to small traces of pharmaceuticals in drinking water supplies in several regions across the country, I would ask that you provide, in writing and without delay, assurances to the American public that their drinking water is in fact safe to drink and that there is no immediate health risk.
Beyond that assurance, I would ask that the Environmental Protection Agency establish a working group of appropriate state and federal experts or a committee under the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) comprised of representatives from state and local water authorities, state departments of environmental quality, federal health agencies, and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to establish workable and reasonable measures to reduce public health risks from pharmaceutical disposal into water supplies.
I am confident that EPA will take the necessary steps to continue to ensure the public trust. Please advise my staff if EPA needs additional legislative authority to carry out the goals listed above.
Senator James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.)
Ranking Member, Environment & Public Works Committee
Thank you Chairman Boxer for holding this hearing, and thank you Secretary Woodley and General Van Antwerp for testifying before us today.
hearing is to look at the President’s fiscal year 2009 budget request
for the Corps of Engineers as well as the implementation of WRDA 2007. Let me first say a few words about WRDA 2007 before I speak to the budget request. Many of us on this committee worked very hard for several years to enact what should have been WRDA 2002. Instead,
we had 5 extra years in which project cost estimates increased
significantly and many local communities had to hope that the delay
wouldn’t prove disastrous. We owe these local communities and federal taxpayers nationwide better than that.
In order to avoid these circumstances going forward, Senator Boxer and I have both previously indicated how important we feel it is to get back on a two-year cycle by working on a WRDA 2008. Today I want to reaffirm my commitment to doing so.
We should not underestimate how important the many project authorizations and policy improvements in WRDA 2007 are to the country’s economy, public safety and environment. I look forward to hearing from the Assistant Secretary and the Chief what their plans are for speedy implementation of these many important provisions.
As far as the President’s budget request for FY09, I have to say that I was extremely disappointed to see that this request was not only a significant decrease from FY08 enacted levels, but that it was even a decrease from the FY08 budget request. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for a Presidential budget request to come in under the previous year’s enacted levels. It doesn’t seem to matter which party is in the White House or which party controls Congress, Congress typically does more to acknowledge and address our water resources needs than does the executive branch. To see a reduction from last year’s budget request, however, is truly disheartening.
fiscal conservative, I strongly support the overall goal of reigning in
government spending, but I firmly believe that the two things the
federal government should spend money on are defense and infrastructure. It
may not be as exciting or headline-grabbing as some other areas of
government spending, but a robust and well-maintained national
infrastructure system is what allows our economy to remain strong and
continue to grow.
I was pleased to see the Administration acknowledge the need for continued investment in our inland waterways system. Just from a parochial perspective, I know that the McKlellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System in Oklahoma and Arkansas could function much more efficiently and productively if we proceed with deepening it to 12 feet from its current 9 foot depth. I am not fundamentally opposed to user fees where appropriate, but I plan to wait for more details before deciding whether to support or oppose this proposal.
Finally, let me convey my appreciation for the Corps’ work in subsidence reporting, clean up and resident assistance at the Tar Creek Superfund site. The Corps has consistently responded quickly and helpfully to the variety of issues that have arisen during our efforts at this site.
I look forward to hearing the witness testimony and to discussing these issues in more depth during the question and answer period.
March 10, 2008
USA Today and the Los Angeles Times provided hope today that the media may be turning away from hyping alarmism and platitudes on environmental issues and instead offering the public fair and balanced information. The first hopeful report is from USA Today on the science and politics of listing polar bears under the Endangered Species Act, and the second is an editorial from the Los Angeles Times stripping bare the rhetoric and reality about cap-and-trade legislation.
First, the article in the USA Today presents a very accurate picture of the polar bear and its possible listing on the Endangered Species Act. Reporter Oren Dorell commendably lays out the latest science, politics and cultural impact surrounding the polar bear controversy.
Below are a few excerpts from the USA Today article titled “Polar bears caught in a heated eco-debate.” (LINK):
USA Today Excerpt: Eskimos in Alaska and Canada have joined to stop polar bears from being designated as an endangered species, saying the move threatens their culture and livelihoods by relying on sketchy science for animals that are thriving. Although they say sea ice has melted, some Natives question the accuracy of the most dire predictions of a warming climate in the Northern Hemisphere, and members of the Inuit Circumpolar Council seek evidence that a change would seriously harm the bears. Their stance has put them at loggerheads with a usual ally: environmentalists who say the bears need protection now to survive a warmer climate in the future… The [Endangered Species Act] petition marks the first time a healthy species would be considered at risk under the Endangered Species Act and the first time global warming would be officially labeled a species' main threat. Polar bears have increased from a population of 5,000 in 1972 to between 20,000 and 25,000 today.
This article follows a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing on polar bears on January 30, 2008, where witnesses included Alaskan Arctic ice Geologist and native Alaskan Inupiaq Richard Glenn, who was mentioned in the USA Today article. Read Glenn’s testimony here and see video here. For more information about polar bears, be sure to check out the Senate Minority report on the bears here and see this follow-up report here.
The USA Today article concluded:
Willie Soon, an astrophysicist at the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, said far too few data were used to make predictions about both climate change and polar bear behavior and populations. "We looked at historical studies. The first thing you notice is the whole climatic system undergoes huge fluctuation," Soon said. Over the possibly 200,000 years the polar bear has existed as a species, it has survived "very harsh conditions" of extreme cold, such as ice ages, and warmth, such as the last interglacial period, 100,000 to 110,000 years ago, Soon said. - To read complete USA Today article see here.
In an editorial titled “California's cap-and-trade won't work,” the paper noted that California “has committed to cut its greenhouse gases 25% by 2020, and electricity generation is the state's second-biggest source of greenhouse emissions after the transportation sector.”
The paper then bluntly describes the potential impact of these efforts.
To spur the needed changes, regulators are designing a cap-and-trade program, in which carbon emissions are capped and power generators can trade carbon credits -- permits to pollute -- among themselves. This is a staggeringly complex undertaking that will once again create opportunities for dishonest traders to manipulate the market. In other words, unless the cap-and-trade program is designed extraordinarily well, we could be looking at deregulation déjá vu. And the consequences won't just be higher power bills. If California, which leads the country in addressing the threat of global warming, gets this program wrong, it could discredit efforts to fight the problem nationwide, if not worldwide. [...] To sum up: Carbon-trading markets are easy to manipulate and produce volatile energy prices, and the political influence of business and other lobbies can skew the system to produce unfair outcomes.
The paper further declared that cap-and-trade legislation:
“won't work in California, because from 22% to 32% of our power is generated out of state, and California can't regulate plants outside its borders. Moreover, those out-of-state plants tend to be much dirtier than local ones.”
The editorial concluded:
Carbon taxes are a simpler, harder to manipulate and less economically damaging way to make polluters pay the costs of their environmental damage than cap and trade. Yet because taxes have so little political support, California regulators are charging ahead with a far riskier strategy, which has never been tested. Cap and trade stands a decent chance of working at the national level, where individual power plants could be regulated regardless of which state they're in, but California will be asking for trouble if it imposes a statewide program.
To read complete editorial see here.
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