Opening Statement of Sen. James M. Inhofe, Ranking Member
Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works
Hearing on S. 1733
October 27, 2009, 9:30 a.m.
We are here today to discuss a 923-page bill to fundamentally redesign our $14 trillion economy. The bill is no doubt ambitious but it’s also extremely costly and ineffective. It is a massive new tax on consumers that will have virtually no affect on climate.
This bill necessarily will raise the price of gasoline, electricity, food, and just about everything else. So we need a comprehensive economic analysis to understand the bill’s impacts. But we don’t have it. We have instead a 38-page narrative from the Environmental Protection Agency, the gist of which is, “This bill is a lot like Waxman-Markey, so go see our analysis of Waxman-Markey.” I did read the analysis of Waxman-Markey. It’s flawed and incomplete. So what do we have here? Not much.
While I have serious problems with EPA’s analysis of Waxman-Markey, and its 38-page “meta-analysis” of Kerry-Boxer, the latter was not entirely EPA’s fault. In its drive to ram S. 1733 through the legislative process, the majority didn’t provide EPA enough time to do a serious analysis. Why would the majority ram through a 923-page bill to overturn the existing economic order? The question answers itself. The public deserves more than just a 38-page description of how much S. 1733 resembles another energy tax passed by the House.
We were told EPA’s work contains “everything that you ever wanted to know.” Yet EPA glosses over and minimizes key issues. Moreover, EPA’s analysis of Waxman-Markey lacks the real-world assumptions that Sen. Voinovich and I asked for in July. EPA rejected our request—we were told to go and find rigorous analysis somewhere else. At this point, I hope we can work with EPA to sort this out, or else our ability to have a markup will be in jeopardy.
Getting the analysis will help us cut through the catchwords. It will bring into focus the words of Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.), who said cap-and-trade is “a tax, and a great big one.” Kerry-Boxer is a tax, and it will mean more economic pain and suffering and fewer jobs.
When President Obama signed the $787 billion stimulus bill into law, he promised to “save or create” 3.5 million jobs. Since then, we have lost 3 million jobs, and the number keeps growing. Today the Administration will argue that cap-and-trade creates jobs. With all due respect, there is a credibility problem here.
The Senate Energy Committee recently had a hearing about the costs of cap-and-trade. Here are some of the headlines that followed: The Washington Post: “Cap-and-Trade Would Slow Economy, CBO Chief Says”; The Wall Street Journal: “Congressional Budget Chief Says Climate Bill Would Cost Jobs”; and The Guardian: “Obama climate change bill could hurt US economy, panel told.”
Let me recount a telling moment in that hearing. Sen. Sessions asked the government witnesses—and they were CBO, EPA, EIA, and CRS—whether anyone disagreed with the finding that the net effect of cap-and-trade would be a reduction in jobs. None did.
Cap-and-trade supporters acknowledge some job loss. They acknowledge a “transition” to the green economy. I’m not sure what that means. The CBO director provided some help. He said the “transition” will be painful: the victims of cap-and-trade can’t just move on and get a new green job. The “transition” will mean leaving high-paying jobs, moving away from hometowns, and “significant reductions in lifetime earnings.”
Now the majority will say Kerry-Boxer has provisions to soften the “transition.” This raises two points: first, it’s an implicit acknowledgement that the bill will destroy jobs; and second, I’m sure the worker at a cement plant, when he loses his job, won’t find much consolation in green welfare programs.
Even as the job-killing impacts of cap-and-trade become clear, we now hear of a grand climate compromise. It entails greater support for new nuclear power plants and more offshore oil and gas drilling. These are sensible policy goals, but why attach them to an energy tax that destroys jobs? And can you really try to drive fossil fuels to extinction on the one hand and increase them on the other?
This apparent compromise will also entail a massive expansion of government bureaucracy. Sen. Webb (D-Va.) compared it “to the old Soviet Union.” Consider that in 2003, the Climate Stewardship Act was 58 pages; the updated version in 2005 was 63 pages; the Lieberman-Warner bill in 2008 was 344 pages; in 2009, Kerry-Boxer is 923 pages and Waxman-Markey is 1,428 pages. So if we’re talking about a deal, let’s focus on nuclear and oil and gas drilling; keep taxes and bureaucracy out of it.
In his speech last week, President Obama dismissed opponents of cap-and-trade as “cynical” and “pessimistic.” I wonder if that applies to the 44 Democrats who voted against Waxman-Markey. I think differently: they object to a policy that will destroy jobs and radically increase the size and scope of government.
This is about prudence and common sense. And it’s about a fundamental difference in vision for the country. We have the approach to tax and destroy versus the approach to expand and create. The American people prefer the latter. And so do I. Thank you.