OPENING STATEMENT BY SENATOR INHOFE
Hearing on the U.S. Climate Action Partnership Report
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
Madame Chairman, I appreciate you having this hearing today. The issue of climate change has taken on a larger significance lately. And the subject of the day is mandatory carbon cap and trade. More and more, companies that wish to profit on the backs of consumers are coming out of the woodwork to endorse climate proposals in the hope of forcing customers to buy their unnecessary products or to penalize their competitors.
Some companies are coming together in an attempt to profit from government intervention where they have failed in the marketplace. Economists call this rent-seeking. But I think the Wall Street Journal was right. They are climate profiteers. These companies will gain market-share against their competitors while the economy flattens and jobs are sent to China – which in an ironic twist of fate will soon become the biggest emitter of carbon dioxide on the planet. Madame Chairman, not all companies have joined the climate profiteers. Most will be its victims, particularly small businesses that will no longer be able to compete. But the biggest losers won’t be businesses, but American consumers.
This proposal and others like it may be written in the form of government regulatory mandates, but for all practical purposes, it is really a regressive tax on the American economy, where select powerful companies profit at the expense of seniors, the working class and the poor. These groups already pay disproportionately more of their monthly budget for energy, and this situation will only worsen under proposals like we see today. Let me be clear -- this is the biggest tax hike in U.S. history.
I am told that the rush to do something about global warming has gained momentum. But the not so hidden secret is that more and more serious scientists and political leaders are voicing their discontent with both the hype and the symbolic approaches that masquerade as solutions that are designed more to line the pockets of its promoters than to accomplish anything.
Among scientists, of course, there is Claude Allegre – the French Socialist, geophysicist, and member of the French and American academies of science – who has said that warming may be due simply to natural variation and that this debate appears to be about money. There is also Nir Shariv, one of Israel’s top young astrophysicists, who says there is no proof of man’s contribution rather than natural variation.
And then there are the political leaders. Prime Minister Stephen Harper reportedly once called the Kyoto accord a "socialist scheme" designed to suck money out of rich countries. And just last week, Czech President Vaclav Klaus made clear his disdain for politics parading for science when he said "Global warming is a false myth and every serious person and scientist says so. It is not fair to refer to the U.N. panel. IPCC is not a scientific institution: it's a political body, a sort of non-government organization of green flavor.
You don’t have to agree with my position on the science to question the wisdom of the cap and trade approach. These proposals will do little and cost much. Moreover, as White House spokesman Tony Snow stated last week, "there is a carbon cap system in place in Europe, we are doing a better job of reducing emissions here," Snow said.
The simple fact is that we cannot continue to put pressure on demand for natural gas in this country while we curtail the efforts of producers to supply it. We cannot demand significant emission reductions while Senators oppose the construction of new nuclear facilities. In short, we cannot demand reductions from our fossil fuel sector unless these demands can be met.
The result can only be further increases and volatility of natural gas prices, continued and even increased job flight to countries that don’t participate. But the biggest cost will be to consumers, who will be forced to foot the bill for this climate chicanery. That is why I have decided to fight for consumers and plan to introduce the Ratepayer’s Protection Act, which will protect consumers in regulated States from having their rates raised to pay any climate schemes.