Vitter Summary Statement for Hearing to Review the President's Climate Action Plan
U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works Hearing “Review of the President’s Climate Action Plan”
January 16, 2014
Thank you, Chairman Boxer, for calling today's hearing. It is long overdue. In 2013, the Committee failed to hold an EPA budget hearing and held only one climate hearing which excluded federal witnesses. Today's hearing precedes an abundance of regulatory actions that are set to take place in 2014 that will further frustrate our already struggling economy -- only a fraction of the jobs economists had hoped for were created in December.
Last June, when President Obama announced his Climate Action Plan, we learned that he did not want his supporters to engage in straight economic arguments, overpromise on the impacts taking action will have, or debate the validity of the claim that the science is already settled. However, these are topics that should be discussed. Just how much this politically driven exercise will cost the taxpayers remains unanswered. In order to understand the consequences, risks, and what the President's Climate Action Plan will actually accomplish, Congress and the American public are not only entitled to but require the facts and figures, not fiction or fantasy. The public has been completely left in the dark with the facts so far.
While the current EPA Administrator argues that the President's Climate Action Plan is part of an overall strategy positioning the U.S. for leadership in international discussions, her predecessor argued that such action would have no impact without international participation. For the purposes of facilitating international closed-door discussions and buy-in, the Administration is moving forward with an agenda that will damage our ability to utilize our abundant energy resources and support a manufacturing renaissance.
These policies show the international community three things: how to undermine chances of economic recovery and growth; how to achieve the lowest workforce participation rate since the Carter Administration; and how to increase energy prices by denying the ability to utilize all energy resources. While these policies were squarely rejected by Congress in 2009, since that failure the President has sought to regulate through executive fiat what he failed to legislate.
President Obama promised his Administration would be the most transparent in history; however, his record reflects a determined effort to do the opposite. Since last June, a number of my Republican colleagues joined me in asking the Administration to provide details on the Social Cost of Carbon (SCC) estimates, which were developed in a black box and are used by multiple federal agencies to justify costly regulations. The first confirmation of participation in these closed-door meetings was acknowledged at a November EPW hearing by EPA's Director of Atmospheric Programs. She committed to providing further, detailed information to the Committee, but has yet to fulfill this commitment. Afterwards, the Administration gave in to pressure from Congress and the public and announced that the estimates would be noticed in the Federal Register and open to comment -- yet they are still being utilized in various iterations across the federal government in rulemakings.
At the climate science hearing last July, many of the extreme weather claims put forward were found to be without merit. Testimony provided at that hearing found that the historical record does not indicate that hurricanes, floods, and tornados have increased in number or intensity. It's very clear there's a lot of uncertainty in the area of climate science and the models upon which proposed actions are based. One of our witnesses, Dr. Judith Curry, will bring some much needed transparency to the process and discuss the uncertainty with the science and models.
While the President's Climate Action Plan includes a role for almost every federal entity, the EPA is clearly at the core. The real consequences of the Climate Action Plan, like shutting down power plants, putting Americans out of work, increasing the cost of energy for those who can least afford it, and jeopardizing the reliability of flipping a switch and having the lights turn on is a discussion the Administration wants to avoid at all costs. EPA waited over three months to publish a second try at proposed greenhouse gas new source performance standards for power plants. This may not only help postpone controversial news during an election year but it may also give EPA more time to make excuses about why they are taking action clearly beyond the scope of their legal authority. As the lead regulator for Texas from 2001 to 2007, Kathleen Hartnett White may be able to explain the impact at the state level of EPA's practice of wishful thinking, questionable justification, and reliance on projects yet to be completed or operational to prove a technology is adequately demonstrated for the purposes of regulation.
Regardless of the flawed legal justifications and perceived theoretical benefits, the simple fact is that the President's Climate Action Plan makes zero economic sense. The plan undermines our economic recovery, threatens to keep off limits our energy abundance and manufacturing renaissance, exponentially increases the federal bureaucracy red tape, hurts those who can least afford it, and denies those around the world the opportunity to energy access and an increased standard of living. The Climate Action Plan will leave all of us -- at home and abroad -- in the dark.