Opening Statement of Senator James M. Inhofe
Environment and Public Works Committee
“Hearing on Climate Change and National Security.”
July 30, 2009
Thank you, Madame Chairman, for calling this important hearing today on climate change and national security. These are two issues that I have followed closely for years, both as a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and as ranking member and former chairman of this committee. In fact, I have worked on both issues on both committees with my good friend and former colleague, Sen. Warner. It’s good to see you here and I look forward to your testimony.
Welcome to the other witnesses here today. Captain Powers and Vice Admiral McGinn, thank you for your service to this country. I read your testimony with great interest. Not surprisingly, there are a number of areas where we agree. I’d like to talk about those in a minute.
Obviously, we differ about the credibility of the science used in your reports—and we differ about some of the report’s conclusions based on that science. But that’s not what my focus is today. Instead, I’m going to stipulate that the central finding in your reports—that climate change poses serious national security threats—is true. I’m even going to stipulate that all of the science informing your reports is true.
What I am going to focus on is the link between developing American resources and America’s national security. And I’m going to explain why passing cap-and-trade won’t solve any of the legitimate issues you identify in your reports.
Let’s be clear from the outset: even if we experience catastrophic changes in climate, the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill, and its soon-to-be Senate variant, will do nothing to stop them. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said as much before this committee a few weeks ago. She agreed that unilateral action to address global warming is futile without meaningful participation from China, India, and other developing countries.
Chip Knappenberger, an environmental scientist with New Hope Environmental Services, has recently confirmed Administrator Jackson’s statement. In a quantitative analysis released this morning, he found that, using the IPCC’s own science, Waxman-Markey would reduce global temperatures by less than one-tenth of a degree Fahrenheit by 2050. In other words, the bill is all pain for no climate gain.
So if Waxman-Markey does virtually nothing to affect climate, what will be its impact on energy security? Vice Admiral McGinn, Captain Powers, in your testimony, you discuss with compelling force that the U.S. needs to reduce dependence on foreign oil, particularly from hostile regimes. I couldn’t agree more. I have argued for years that, for national security purposes, the United States must provide access to all forms of domestic energy supplies, including wind—which I have in good measure in Oklahoma—solar, geothermal, nuclear, clean coal, oil, and natural gas.
And it’s clear we have the resources. According to a report by the Utah Mining Association, America's recoverable oil shale resources are nearly three times as large as those in Saudi Arabia. The study concluded that utilizing U.S. oil shale deposits could provide America with the "potential to be completely energy self-sufficient, with no demands on external energy sources."
That’s the economic way to increase our energy security. Waxman-Markey is just the opposite: it would close access to American resources, destroy jobs, send manufacturing overseas, and therefore make us more dependent on energy from abroad.
What’s more, Waxman-Markey won’t achieve the main goal its supporters routinely trumpet. In its analysis of Waxman-Markey, EPA found that cap-and-trade would not “substantially change consumer behavior in their vehicle miles traveled or vehicle purchases at the prices at which low GHG emitting automotive technologies can be produced.” It further stated that Waxman-Markey “creates little incentive for the introduction of low-GHG automotive technology.”
It’s notable, too, Vice Admiral, that in your 2007 and 2009 reports, cap-and-trade is never mentioned—and there is no recommendation to enact cap-and-trade. Instead, in your 2007 report, you call for, among other things, U.S. engagement with the “international community” to forge a meaningful climate change agreement. This implies that U.S. action alone won’t solve the problem. I couldn’t agree more.
If we decide as a nation to regulate greenhouse gas emissions—and I hope we won’t—then the result will be carbon leakage. That’s a fancy term that means manufacturing jobs and emissions will move overseas to countries that don’t regulate emissions. By sending our jobs and basic industries to China and India, America will be weaker, and our strategic competitors will be stronger.
How can the United States continue to be the world’s economic leader if we effectively de-industrialize the United States economy? I have in my hand a new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO), which was requested by Sen. Baucus, a member of this committee. The report examines the impacts that climate change measures could have on U.S. manufacturers. I recommend reading it to everyone here today.
According to GAO, “if domestic greenhouse gas emissions pricing were to make emissions more expensive in the United States than in other countries, production costs for domestic industries would likely increase relative to their international competitors, potentially disadvantaging industries in the United States. As a result, some domestic production could shift abroad, through changes in consumption or investment patterns, to countries where greenhouse gas emissions are less stringently regulated.”
This needs no comment. It speaks for itself. It’s clear, then, that passing cap-and-trade will do great harm to our economic security, to our energy security, and therefore to America’s national security. We cannot on the one hand de-industrialize America and on the other hope that America will remain a great power. The sensible solution here is to free ourselves from Middle East oil by producing more of our resources—all of our resources—right here at home, and to pursue policies to encourage manufacturing here in the United States.