Mr. Chairman, I thank you for holding this hearing today on S.2191. This is a much needed hearing in what should be the beginning of the process of looking at the bill, examining it in-depth, hearing from a wide-variety of stakeholders. But that process is getting short-changed. And the full Senate and the American people will be short-changed as well.
Senator Boxer has been reported in the press as saying her goal is to complete Committee action on this bill before her trip to Bali. I would ask Chairman Boxer to repudiate that idea and publicly state that her goal is to get the legislation right, not legislate for a public relations deadline.
When this Committee considered the Clean Air Act Amendment of 1990, the Subcommittee and full Committee heard from over 60 witnesses from a vast cross-section of America during a series of legislative hearings examining the bill.
When we considered Clear Skies, we heard from dozens of witnesses examining the bill over a period of two years. We conducted staff briefings which all Committee staff were invited to participate. We obtained analyses from EPA and the Energy Information Administration. Even through this, members of this Committee complained EPA hadn’t done enough analysis to allow them to understand the implications of the bill.
Yet for this bill, the entire extent of the process prior to a Subcommittee markup is to have one legislative hearing at which only one witness with grave concerns is invited. It also appears that the full Committee process will be truncated – that there will be an attempt to create the appearance of process, but no cooperation in providing Committee Members the opportunity to examine the substance of the bill.
In fact, it appears that no analysis of the massive impacts that this bill will impose on the U.S. economy has been conducted. Nor do we have an analysis of what this bill will achieve in terms of reducing global concentrations and, consequently, global temperatures – in short, the benefits. I fear the bill is all pain and no gain.
Every passing day brings more questions than answers. I have here a short preliminary list of questions about the rationale of various provisions and requests for clarification, which I request be made part of the record. This bill was released only last week, and we have had little time to analyze this bill and to hear from stakeholders, who themselves are just beginning to understand how it will affect them. I hope you will answer these questions and others that will be forthcoming before moving forward with a markup.
My concern is also with the fundamental construction of this bill. Our nation is headed for an energy crisis in the next few years. Just last week, the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) announced its annual 2007 Long-Term Reliability Assessment, and found that unless additional resources are brought into service, some areas could fall below their target capacity margins within two or three years. Over the next 10 years, we are expected to increase our need for electricity demand by 18% -- or 135,000 megawatts. Over that same timeframe, our committed capacity will grow by only 8%, or 77,000 megawatts. This bill will worsen the problem.
We do not know how expensive this bill will be, but we know it will cost more than McCain-Lieberman, which itself increases gasoline and electricity prices by 22 percent cuts production in 33 out of 35 sectors of the U.S. economy.
As Senator McCain’s spokesperson, Melissa Shuffield is quoted yesterday as saying in an article discussing his decision not to co-sponsor the bill:
"We can't effectively reduce our emissions without including nuclear energy, which is more efficient than the technologies in the bill."
Senator McCain and I may differ on the need for climate legislation, but his point is hard to ignore. If nuclear is not part of the path forward, how do you plan to reduce emissions?
As we will hear in testimony from one of our witnesses today, Mr. Paul Ciccio, the unfortunate answer is that this bill will cause massive fuel switching to natural gas, driving industrial users out of the country.
There are many areas of this bill to criticize, such as the creation of what is essentially a new carbon Federal Reserve board completely insulated from oversight, the manipulation of its provisions to send money to certain states for no real reason other than to gain votes, and of course, its completely unrealistic targets and timetables. But I do not have time now to go through them all.
At its core, this bill, like all cap and trade bills, tries to obscure the real costs to our economy and the number of jobs we will send to China and other countries. And based on the experience of the Kyoto Protocol, it will not work. It is a far more honest approach to simply propose a tax. Unlike this bill, it would at least work, and would be far less harmful to the economy. It may not help companies wanting windfall profits, but it would do less harm to American families.