Friday, May 25, 2007

Inhofe Introduces Bill To Address Soaring Energy Prices

Thursday, May 24, 2007

On Thursday, May 24, 2007, Senator Inhofe introduced the Gas Petroleum Refiner Improvement and Community Empowerment Act of 2007, or the Gas PRICE Act, designed to ease America’s soaring gas prices and work toward achieving energy security. As the Ranking Member and former Chairman of the EPW Committee, Senator Inhofe has not only raised concerns about soaring energy prices and energy security over the years, he has also worked to provide sensible solutions. While Chairman, Senator Inhofe conducted a series of hearings detailing how environmental regulations impact energy security. These hearing led to Senator Inhofe introducing the Gas Price Act in 2005 aimed at improving and expanding domestic energy supply in the United States. The bill introduced today builds on that legislation but is different in a few material ways. Today’s Gas PRICE Act answers the understandably loud cry from the public to increase clean fuel supplies from domestic sources.

"As Oklahoman and American families continue to face soaring energy prices in their homes, at the store, and especially at the pump, now is the time to provide serious solutions," Senator Inhofe said. "American’s are looking for real solutions –not more politicking, rhetoric, or finger pointing that is increasingly common here in Washington.

"Today’s Gas Price Act will increase domestic fuel supplies in several significant ways. Importantly, my bill redefines and broadens our understanding of a ‘refinery’ to include a ‘domestic fuels facility.’ Oil has been and will continue to play a major role in the US economy, but the future of our domestic transportation fuels system must also include new sources of energy such as ultra-clean syn-fuels derived from coal and cellulosic ethanol derived from home grown grasses and biomass. The Gas PRICE Act improves the permitting process for the expansion of existing and construction of new domestic fuels facilities, as well as encourages economically distressed communities to consider siting ultra-clean syn-fuels and cellulosic ethanol refineries in their towns. The public demands more supplies but they also demand that they be clean. My bill establishes an EPA program assessing the use of these ultra-clean syn-fuels as a pollution control strategy. Last, in order for there to be a viable cellulosic biofuel market, stakeholders and the public must know exactly what our renewable fuel reserves potentially may be. This legislation requires a task force to determine just that.

"Oklahoma has long been a leader in oil and gas supply, but today it is also a leader in innovating and providing transportation fuels for the future. In particular, I appreciate the research and development done by Noble Foundation and its partners. The key now is to promote investment in this exciting area in Oklahoma and across the country.

"I look forward working closely with my colleagues so we can send the Gas PRICE Act to the President quickly."


Inhofe Opening Statement: Hearing on "The Issue of the Potential Impacts of Global Warming on Recreation and the Recreation Industry"

Thursday May 24, 2007

[ Read highlights of witness hearing testimony ]

Thank you for having this hearing today, Madam Chairman. I have to say, however, that we seem to have hearing after hearing after hearing on climate change – indeed, this is the Committee's second one this week alone – but we don’t seem to actually discuss legislation. While other Committees without jurisdiction on this issue attempt to write our nation’s global warming policies, this Committee sits idly by talking about tangential issues. I believe that if we do wrestle with actual legislation, then the folly of cap-and-trade carbon legislation will become apparent.                                  

The recreation industry’s true threats come not from climate change – which has always changed and will always change – but from the so-called global warming ‘solutions’ being proposed by government policymakers. Misguided efforts to ‘solve’ global warming threaten to damage the travel and recreation industry. In short, it is a direct threat America’s way of life.  If we cannot fly to remote locations, and if few automobiles are capable of pulling boats, jet skies, and campers, and if RVs become a thing of the past as environmentalists would like, then minor climate fluctuations will have little impact on recreation because Americans will not have the means to recreate.

I will not belabor my views about the scientific underpinnings of global warming alarmism, other than to make a few observations. The fact that climate fluctuates – changes – is nothing new, and should not be feared. It has always changed, and unless the processes of the planet suddenly stopped, it always will. There is little disagreement that it warmed in the Northern Hemisphere from about 1970’s until 1998, and that since that time, temperatures flattened. And there is general agreement that some human activities such as the building of cities and expanding agriculture, have contributed to this. But there remains much debate in the peer-reviewed scientific literature as to the many factors which may influence climate that is of importance to the question of whether climate fluctuations are natural or caused by humans. But regardless of that debate, a healthy functioning planet means constant changes in our climate.

There are winners and losers as climate fluctuates.  A warming period could be a boon for warm weather destinations like beaches and lakes and a cooling period like we experienced from 1940-1970s could be beneficial for cold weather recreation like skiing and snowboarding.  This past winter saw record snows in the Rocky Mountain region as well as an unusually cold spring in Alaska. Currently, we are seeing a Memorial Day snow advisory for the Colorado Mountains. Wyoming being buried in a May snowstorm and parts of Canada are still enduring winter. In addition, South Africa just set 54 new cold weather records with some parts seeing snow for the first time in 33 years as snow and ice continue to fall.  And I am not finished.  A massive snowstorm in China has closed highways and stranded motorists. And finally, winter has arrived early in Australia as the snow season is off to a promising start for the winter recreation industry.

But the most verifiable threat to the recreation and travel industry is the unintended consequences of misguided government policy and environmental activists. The chilling effect of guilt that the climate alarmists are attempting to instill in Americans for owning four wheel drive vehicles, flying in an airplane and enjoying travel is enough to harm the industry. For examples of this promotion of misguided policies and guilt, you need look no further than a proposal in April by the UK-based Institute for Public Policy Research, which called for tobacco-style health warnings on airplanes to warn passengers that the plane flight may be contributing to a global warming crisis.  The group proposed posting signs on airplanes which read “flying causes climate change.”

Another example of unintended consequences by climate crusaders was the recent proclamation by a UK grocery store announcing it would usher in ‘carbon friendly’ policies and stop importing food from faraway nations. This proposal may have been popular with wealthy Western environmentalists, but the idea did not sit so well with poor African farmers. As a February 21, 2007 BBC article details:

“Kenyan farmers, whose lifelong carbon emissions are negligible compared with their counterparts in the West, are fast becoming the victims of a green campaign that could threaten their livelihoods. A recent bold statement by UK supermarket Tesco ushering in ‘carbon friendly’ measures - such as restricting the imports of air freighted goods by half and the introduction of "carbon counting" labeling - has had environmentalists dancing in the fresh produce aisles, but has left African horticulturists confused and concerned.”

The BBC article continues:

“Half of this produce goes to the UK's supermarkets, generating at least £100m per year for this developing country. The dependence on the UK market cannot be underestimated, says Stephen Mbithi Mwikya, chief executive of FPEAK. For Kenya, horticulture is the country's second biggest foreign exchange earner after tourism. ‘This announcement from Tesco is devastating’, says Mr Mbithi.”

The recent announcement by travel guru Mark Ellingham, the author of the Rough Guide travel book series, that he was now recanting his promotion of worldwide travel is another blow to the travel and recreation industry. Ellingham now says that our addiction to ‘binge flying’ is killing the planet.

This kind of alarmism should concern the travel and recreation industry, not natural climate fluctuations which mankind has no control over.

There is even more proof showing that the dangers facing travel and recreation are coming from climate hysteria. The Associated Press on May 16, 2007 reported that ecotourism --the type of travel you would expect environmentalists to endorse--is no more Earth friendly than regular travel due to the long plane flights necessary to bring vacationers to exotic locales.  The Norwegian Environment Minister Helen Bjoernoey is now warning about long distance travel.

"Long distance travel — especially air travel — is a challenge to all of us. We know that it has serious impacts on the climate," Bjoernoey said. 

I cannot think of a more devastating sentiment to the industry than that.  Reduce air travel because of unfounded fears of climate doom.  That is the authentic threat not only to the travel industry, but the developing world which depends so much on tourism to improve the life its residents.  Clearly, the unfounded fears of a man-made climate catastrophe and the proposed solutions represent the gravest threats to the industry.

Thank you.


Inhofe Opening Statement: "Examining the Case for the California Waiver"

May 22, 2007

EPW Hearing on "Examining the Case for the California Waiver"

As a general rule, I avidly support States’ rights and believe in the principle of decentralization. States and localities are often in the best situation to assess their own particular problems and implement their own solutions. But that does not mean there is no room for federal standards. Air quality and the Clean Air Act is one of those cases. Air pollution knows no boundaries and the Clean Air Act, for all its imperfections, has led to steadily improving air quality in this country.

While the implementation of our clean air laws has been local, which is appropriate, the standards themselves have been national. Now it is true that California’s air pollution problems are worse, so it is allowed to request a waiver to create even tighter standards.

The problem, however, is that the State has not even made much progress complying with existing federal laws, let alone more stringent ones. For instance, California is violating federal law to reduce the soot its citizens are forced to breathe every day. It is in violation of federal particulate matter standards and shows few signs it will come into compliance.

The same is true for ozone. While EPA grapples with whether the federal standards for ozone are tight enough or not, areas of California are not even complying with existing law.

When I introduced legislation last year to tighten penalties for counties that have ignored our air pollution laws and are in serious nonattainment for ozone and particulate matter, it caused uproar because people said I was selectively targeting California. At first, I was surprised by the reaction. But as I learned more about efforts to control pollution in this country, I found out that California is the only State in the Union that is extensively ignoring federal law.

Now I don’t have an axe to grind against California – it’s a great State. But it is the height of hypocrisy for California State officials to sit here today condemning the Bush Administration when it is violating multiple air quality standards.

I’m not introducing my legislation today since it’s not climate specific. I don’t want to confuse people – my bill is not a climate bill. It is a serious attempt to reign in the worst offenders of our federal pollution laws. But I take air pollution very seriously and do plan to introduce my legislation again in order to hold these areas accountable and to help make their air cleaner.

It is hypocrisy for California policymakers to try to be the tail that wags the dog when it comes to the Clean Air Act. When it comes to the issue of whether climate fluctuations are natural or caused by man, you all know my view that the cycles we are now experiencing – and have experienced for thousands and even millions of years – are natural. But even if, hypothetically speaking, I were wrong in that assessment, California is not unique when it comes to greenhouse gases, as it is for traditional air pollution.

Madam Chairman, I know many Californians proudly say that their state leads the nation when it comes to the environment. While I disagree when it comes to California’s commitment to air quality, it may be true in one circumstance. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, over the last two decades, California’s temperature has cooled by .06 °C – or about a third of a degree per century. Yes, I said cooled. So if Russia’s top solar scientist is correct that the Earth is heading into a cooling phase, California is indeed leading the nation and even the world.

Today’s call for an immediate decision on the waiver request is simply grandstanding. Granting California’s waiver immediately would make no difference to global temperatures even if the alarmists were right. And it certainly would not benefit California.

Yet for political purposes, California’s leadership is asking EPA to sidestep its statutory responsibilities to first make a finding whether greenhouse gases endanger human health and the environment.

Even if EPA were to make such a finding, that still would not justify California’s waiver request, as it does not meet the necessary requirements for EPA to grant such a request.

Madam Chairman, I have more to say on the subject of political grandstanding and hypocrisy, but will reserve my comments for the question and answer period.

Thank you.



From the Inhofe EPW Press Blog: WHAT WARMING? Both Hemispheres Report Unusual Cold and Snow

May 23, 2007

Inhofe EPW Press Blog

The media loves to seize on every warm winter day or summer heat wave as some kind of “proof” of man-made catastrophic global warming.  But what the establishment media likes to conveniently ignore is periods of unusual cold or snow. (See post: “Hysterical Global Warming Hypocrisy From ABC Regarding Heat Waves and Cold Snaps” )  Several nations on Earth are currently experiencing rather cold and snowy weather at the moment.

[Note: The mainstream media also loves to ignore the sea change occurring in the scientific community as many scientists who once believed in man-made climate doom now have reversed themselves and are skeptical.] (See EPW Blog: Prominent Scientists Reverse Belief in Man-made Global Warming - Now Skeptics )

The below articles detail some of the unusual cold and snow occurring at the moment.  One article below chronicles the Memorial Day snow advisory for the Colorado Mountains where up to 8 inches is expected. (and this after the Denver area received “one of the snowiest winters on record” in 2007.) 

Parts of Wyoming are also being buried under a snowstorm while winter weather is persisting in Oregon and parts of Canada. A huge snowstorm in China has closed highways and stranded motorists. In addition, South Africa just set 54 new cold weather records with some parts seeing snow for the first time in 33 years as snow and ice continue to fall. Finally, winter has arrived early in Australia as the snow season is off to a promising start for the winter recreation industry.

Now the question is, will the same media that sensationalizes every warm weather event to promote climate alarmism, highlight the current icy grip of winter for many areas?

Articles from past few days beg question -WHAT WARMING?


From the Inhofe EPW Press Blog: Eco-Terrorists Face Tough New Federal Law Authored by Senator Inhofe

May 25, 2007

Visit Senator Inhofe’s EPW Committee website page on Eco-Terrorism

Eco-terrorism is in the news again this week, providing an opportunity to highlight the new federal law written and shepherded through the Senate by Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.) to combat such acts of violence.

A May 25, 2007 Rocky Mountain News reported on animal rights extremists:

 "They wanted to save the forests, to protect animals such as the lynx, to send a message to governments and corporations that putting profits before the good of the planet would not be tolerated. Instead, the environmental radicals who unleashed arson and other destruction during a five-year span starting in the mid-1990s - including the 1998 fires on Vail Mountain - have found themselves in a federal courthouse here this week, branded as ‘terrorists.'"

In addition, a federal judge declared this week that radical environmentalists were guilty of using "elements of terrorism" for torching SUVs in Oregon. U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken told the convicted arsonist: "It was your intent to scare and frighten other people through a very dangerous and psychological act – arson." Judge Aiken added, "Your actions included elements of terrorism to achieve your goal."

These types of eco-terror acts are the reason Senator Inhofe authored the "Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act," which was signed into law by President Bush in November 27, 2007. The Act, which Senator Inhofe worked closely with Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Representative Tom Petri (R-Wisc.) to pass, received broad bi-partisan support resulting in the bill’s unanimous passage in the 109th Congress.

Senator Inhofe detailed the merits of the bill last November:

 "I am proud the President signed into law my bill that provides law enforcement much needed tools to adequately combat radical animal rights extremists’ who commit violent acts against innocent people because of their work with animal research. My bill, that gained unanimous support of Congress, is an important step in the effort to combat animal rights extremists’ increasingly violent tactics. We can no longer tolerate criminally based activism regardless of the cause it allegedly advances."

Highlights of the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act:

•The AETA gives needed protection to scientists, medical researchers, ranchers, farmers, and any other industry involving animals by expanding current law to address violent tactics used by animal rights extremists to frighten law abiding citizens away from their work.

•Prohibiting the animal rights extremists’ violent tactics will ensure that important animal enterprises, like biomedical industries, stay in California for example, rather than go to India or China.

•The AETA gives law enforcement the tools they need to adequately combat radical animal rights extremists who commit violent acts against innocent people because they work with animals.

•The AETA was introduced after the EPW Committee held two hearings on the issue.

 •The AETA has express first amendment protections.

•The AETA has a staggered penalty structure to meet varying levels of violent offenses.

•The AETA carries a penalty of life imprisonment for the death of an individual resulting from animal rights extremist’s dangerous tactics.

 See Related Links:

Visit Senator Inhofe’s EPW Committee website page on Eco-Terrorism