Inhofe Calls ESA Emission Proposal ‘Flagrant Attempt’ To Bypass Legislative Debate
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Ranking Member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, reiterates the calls for the removal of a rider added to the omnibus spending bill that would authorize the Department of the Interior to regulate greenhouse gas emissions and reverse common-sense revisions to the Endangered Species Act (ESA) consultation procedures. The current omnibus bill includes language that would direct Interior Secretary Salazar to rescind the recently finalized ESA rules – specifically, rules stating that if an activity is permissible under the stricter standards imposed by the Marine Mammal Protection Act, it is also permissible under the Endangered Species Act with respect to the polar bear, and a rule modernizing ESA Section 7 consultations.
"These recent rules are commonsense changes to an outdated law," Senator Inhofe said. "The omnibus rider is flagrant attempt to regulate emissions without going through the proper process of public regulatory or legislative debate. This provision is a direct attack on our economy and energy security. Rescinding the polar bear rules with the congressional stroke of the pen means that any emitter of greenhouse gases could be regulated in the name of protecting habitat regardless of whether sufficient scientific evidence justifies that action.
"ESA was never intended or designed to regulate greenhouse gas emissions or air quality. The fact is that activists and their Congressional supporters are selectively ignoring their commitments to transparency in order to improve their odds in court."
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When President Dwight Eisenhower first conceived the interstate system more than 50 years ago, he envisioned a system to connect the nation and enhance national defense. The enormous economic benefits provided by the system were not fully understood for some time.
Today, however, the link between a robust economy and a strong transportation infrastructure is undeniable. For example, our nation’s roads and bridges move close to $40 billion worth of goods daily. That number would be higher, but congestion costs our nation $8 billion annually, according to Department of Transportation estimates. If we don’t take dramatic action to improve our transportation infrastructure system, growing congestion and deteriorating pavement conditions will choke the U.S. economy.
As we move toward reauthorization of our surface transportation programs, we must recognize that our nation’s transportation needs have outgrown our current transportation policy. Simply tinkering around the edges of current programs and policies is not an option. We must be bold in refocusing our limited resources to our nation’s greatest needs.
This reauthorization is the time to address several complex policy questions. First, we must determine the fundamental missions of the federal program. I am a firm believer in a national transportation system, but I think our current federal-aid program tries to be all things to all people. I would argue there is no more essential federal role in transportation than to address the needs that affect the vitality of our interstate commerce and our economy as a whole.
It is critical that we explore new ideas of how to improve freight movement and reliability. On the other hand, we must seriously reconsider the federal government’s role in continuing to support many of the nonessential activities added to the program over the years.
Next, we must ensure that Americans receive a full and effective return on the fuel taxes they pay into the Highway Trust Fund. This may include establishing performance goals and ways to measure progress toward those goals. It certainly includes ensuring that transportation projects are not needlessly delayed, and therefore made more costly, by required environmental reviews.
Too often the environmental review process is used as the means to slow or stop projects, not based on substantive environmental grounds but rather simply because selected individuals oppose the projects. We need to reduce the ability of these not-in-my-backyard interests to continue to manipulate federal law this way.
Finally, but possibly most importantly, we must address funding issues. It is clear that current revenues going into the Highway Trust Fund are not sufficient, as evidenced by DOT’s estimate that the backlog of needed projects to simply maintain the current highway and bridge network is $495 billion and growing.
As Congress begins to re-evaluate the appropriate federal role, we must determine how to pay for that federal share. In particular, as vehicles become more fuel-efficient, the existing funding model of paying per gallon of fuel will not be effective. We need to explore numerous alternative financing mechanisms, because no single option will provide a complete solution. We must be willing to explore new options, including expanded use of public-private partnerships, tolling, congestion pricing, mileage-based road pricing, and requiring all users — not just highway users — to contribute to the trust fund.
Complicating the funding question, of course, is our current economic situation. It is more important than ever that we not demand so much of the American taxpayers that we worsen economic conditions. At the same time, we must remember the economic benefits of transportation spending. According to economists, every $1 billion of federal investment in infrastructure adds $3.4 billion to the gross domestic product and creates 34,800 jobs.
One thing we must not do in this year’s reauthorization discussion is allow debate over other national policies to distract us from surface transportation issues. This bill historically has enjoyed broad bipartisan cooperation and support. The insertion of controversial issues, such as global warming, would pose serious threats to that bipartisanship and would significantly slow, or even halt, the reauthorization process.
Democratic leaders in both the Senate and the House of Representatives have voiced the intention to consider stand-alone global warming legislation at some point in the next two years. It is within that context, and not during transportation reauthorization, that we should debate the merits, or lack thereof, of various proposals to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.
The needs of our surface transportation system and the system’s importance to our national economy demand our immediate and focused attention. I look forward to working with my colleagues in Congress, as well as with the Obama administration, to craft a reauthorization bill that brings focus to the federal program and ensures a system that will continue to provide the basis for economic growth.
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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Ranking Member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, commented on President Obama’s State of the Union Address."President Obama committed to the largest annual tax increase in the history of America, through the implementation of a global warming cap-and-trade system," Senator Inhofe said. "The range of the tax increase that would be brought on by this cap-and-trade legislation is somewhere between $300-$330 billion per year. As bad as the stimulus spending bill was, this would be much worse because instead of being one-time spending, the cap-and-trade tax increase would keep occurring year after year. During times of economic turmoil it is folly to impose more pain on families by intentionally raising their energy costs through cap-and-trade. The American people will be outraged when they realize that any so-called global warming ‘solutions’ will not have a detectable impact on temperatures but will have very painful and real impacts on their family budgets.
"Climate proposals should not be concealed under the guise of a deficit reduction tool. We learned last year during the Lieberman-Warner global warming cap-and-trade debate that the massive proposal represented the largest redistribution of wealth in the government’s history and predetermined winners and losers. I believe environmentalists and other special interests that were bought off in the last climate bill would oppose any legislation that attempts to reduce their earmarks. Special interest will oppose any bill that depletes funding for pet programs because the revenue is being held hostage as a deficit reduction tool.
"I was sitting near Sen. Barbara Boxer during the inauguration and she was stunned that the President didn’t address Global Warming in his speech. Unfortunately, it seems that the President is finally folding to the pressure from his special interest constituency. Thankfully, I believe we can still defeat these misguided climate efforts here in Congress."
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Opening Statement of Senator James Inhofe
Update on the Latest Global Warming Science Hearing
Thank you, Madame Chairman, for holding today’s hearing. As you know, no one likes to talk more about climate science than I do. However with this being the first climate change hearing in the 111th Congress, and in the midst of a deep financial crisis and recession, I thought I’d start by quoting Ronald Reagan: “There you go again.” In these turbulent financial times, rather than opening with climate hearings analyzing the issues that concern Americans, such as how cap-and-trade policies and taxes will affect our energy prices and our bottom line, we are here today to focus once again on speculative computer model predictions of 50 to100 years away of a looming climate catastrophe, and the public health and ecological chaos that will result from man’s supposed effect on his climate by the continuing use of fossil fuels.
I don’t need computer models to tell me that people are hurting financially, or that hundreds of thousands of Americans are losing their jobs every month, and I don’t need a degree in science to tell me that the climate will continue to change and challenge us all. I see it everyday. Rather, as lawmakers, it is our duty here in this Committee to analyze the policy issues that affect all Americans, especially in the near term, and I am hopeful that this year we will schedule more hearings that address these types of issues.Now, before I comment on the science and welcome our distinguished witnesses, I thought I would try and put some of these economic issues in perspective with the science. I will use numbers that Americans are unfortunately getting used to seeing with all of the debate on bailouts. As you can see, this chart represents the costs of the various government bailouts within the last year (Auto Bailout $17 Billion, Housing Bailout $200B, Mortgage Bailout $275B, Bank Bailout, $700B, Economy Bailout $787B). The bottom number represents the amount of money the sponsors of the Lieberman-Warner bill said would be generated under their cap-and-trade bill, which is included in the billions, to keep the numbers in perspective.
What they all have in common is they represent previously unimaginable amounts of money that the government is currently spending or eventually taxing to throw at our problems to try to “boost” our economy. In the cap-and-trade context, this comes in the form of taxes through passed-on higher energy costs. In terms of effectiveness, we learned last week that at least with the auto bailout, the initial offering will be ineffective, with GM and Chrysler both asking for billions more and still leaving bankruptcy options open. Time will tell whether these other bailouts are also proven ineffective.Now where does climate science come in? It comes in once again in terms of effectiveness, using our tax dollars wisely. Assuming IPCC’s own targets for stabilization of CO2 in the atmosphere at 450 ppm (parts per million), the EPA has confirmed that a U.S. only cap-and-trade carbon policy will be ineffective. These targets are simply not achievable with the approach to climate change that has been the focus of the policy debate for years.
Now my colleagues will argue that we must focus on a new global international policy the U.S. should lead in order to reach such pie-in-the-sky reduction levels. However, these efforts should be contrasted with last month’s Chinese government reports that show China is aiming to increase its coal production by about 30 percent in 2015 to meet its energy needs. In addition, other developing countries state they will not agree to binding caps and that climate funding is an entitlement, not aid, to be paid for by who else but us? It is time for us to get realistic about these policies, and focus on what is achievable, both globally and domestically, to help bring down energy costs to consumers and make us more energy secure.
Now, regarding the science, I welcome all of our witnesses here today, including Dr. William Happer. Dr. Happer is a professor at the Department of Physics at Princeton University and former Director of Energy Research at the Department of Energy from 1990 to 1993. He is a fellow of the American Physical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the National Academy of Sciences. I welcome his and all of the witnesses’ testimony.
As you know, I regularly serve as a disseminator of information on the latest science that is not being reported in the mainstream media. I have given over twelve floor speeches documenting the politicization of the global warming science issue. My continuing fear is that objective, transparent, and verifiable science gets lost in the public dialogue.
Contrary to what the media and the UN have promoted, there is a growing body of scientific studies and scientists who are openly rebelling against the so-called “consensus.” Recently, I released a new minority report on climate science which documents many of the studies. That report included over 650 scientists who have challenged man-made global warming claims made by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and former Vice President Al Gore. It features the skeptical voices of over 650 prominent international scientists, including many current and former UN IPCC scientists. This updated report includes an additional 250 scientists and climate researchers since the initial release in December 2007. I would note the over 650 dissenting scientists are more than 12 times the number of UN scientists (52) who authored the IPCC 2007 Summary for Policymakers.
I would like to insert this report in the record and I look forward to referencing it in questions for the witnesses.
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