Today’s markup culminates what should be known as “The Year of the Missed Opportunity” for this Committee. We had about 20 climate hearings on the impacts of climate change, but never on solutions. We never discussed the differing approaches to reducing emissions. Instead, we’ve had a rushed process at the end of the year to examine a single approach, without the aid of government analysis.
By focusing on form over substance, we missed an opportunity to consider a more thoughtful and better crafted bill. By failing to discuss issues themselves – such as allocations versus auctions, input versus output, taxes versus caps, permitting issues related to energy supply including natural gas, nuclear power, and transmission lines – we now must attempt to do through the amendment process what should have been done throughout the year and address some of these issues.
Several amendments have been filed on this bill, but as I look at them, it seems to me that they fall into some broad themes:
Lessen the economic burden on households and the poor
Protect America’s workers
Ensure clean technologies are pursued and are available before tighter limits are imposed
Address regional disparities
At the heart of the matter is that this bill is all pain and no gain. An EPA analysis of the various bills issued in October made this clear and was startling in its conclusions. I have long said that, even if you accept all the science of the other side for arguments sake, none of these bills would do much. But even I was surprised at how little these do to curb global concentrations of greenhouse gases.
By the end of this century, the total difference in global concentrations between the most and least stringent climate bills at the Century is only a few parts per million out of almost 700 parts per million. The fact is that none of them do much because China’s emissions will continue to accelerate as it builds coal plants and imports jobs from the U.S.
This will be enormously expensive to households – within 7 years, electricity prices will skyrocket by 35 to 65 percent and the economic hit on households will be up to $1300 and escalating rapidly from that point on. This is far worse than even the McCain-Lieberman bill that was voted down by the Senate two years ago. And the poor are the hardest hit since they pay about 5 times as much per month as a percentage of their monthly expenditures compared to wealthier Americans.
By 2015 this bill will cost up to 2.3 million jobs, and these jobs will go to China and India and other emerging nations without carbon limits.
This bill also does little to ensure that we have the clean technologies such as nuclear and clean coal that would be critical if we adopted this legislation.
Last, this bill creates many regional disparities – winners and losers – and some provisions seem designed solely to gain short-term votes at the expense of bad long-term policy.
I hope that today we can begin the slow process of improving this bill. Thank you.