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Vitter Summary Statement on Subcommittee Hearing on Climate Change
U.S. Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety “Examining the Threats Posed by Climate Change”
July 29, 2014


Thank you, Chairman Whitehouse, for calling today's hearing, and thank you to our witnesses for coming here today. Last June when President Obama announced his Climate Action Plan, we learned that he preferred his supporters not 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 exactly the topics that need to be discussed, and the witnesses invited today will speak to the costs and benefits of the current strategies the Administration seeks to put in place to regulate carbon dioxide emissions and thereby in theory address climate change.

Focusing on the scientific foundation for President Obama's greenhouse gas regulations has largely become a moot point. Not because there is still so much to learn about our ever-changing climate, but because my colleagues on the other side of the aisle are so comfortable obfuscating the facts. When I took over as Ranking Member, I made the specific request that serious statements of science be made with precision - precision in what the science shows, in what the level of uncertainty in modeling has been, and in presenting what is indicated by empirical evidence.

Since the beginning of this Congress, Republicans have invited many well-qualified scientists to testify at our numerous climate hearings, and each one has spoken to what the empirical evidence shows. According to their testimony, it shows that hurricane and tornado activity has not been increasing in either frequency or intensity. But, most importantly, according to their testimony, it shows that global temperatures have not been increasing at any rate close to what was predicted ten years ago.

In defiance of the President's wishes not to discuss the economics of the Climate Action Plan's agenda, just last week EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy stated that the Existing Source Proposal for carbon dioxide emissions from power plants was not about pollution control but was an investment opportunity. An investment opportunity for friends and allies of the Obama Administration, while giving States no other option besides requiring expensive renewable energy mandates while being forced to pass the cost along to local communities, families, and businesses that can least afford increased electricity costs.

The current Administration not only has a credibility problem, it has a consistency problem. A month ago, Acting Assistant Administrator for Air and Radiation Janet McCabe stated that the Existing Source proposal was not an energy plan. The rule was a pollution control rule. So which is it? Ms. McCarthy is said to be known for being a straight shooter -could her comment in front of EPW been a rare moment of "transparency" this Administration promised?

If we are going to bring clarity and precision to the debate, let's look at the facts:

• "Carbon" is an inaccurate term to be used in this discussion -we are discussing carbon dioxide, not carbon monoxide, a pollutant already regulated and a known danger.

• The cost to the domestic economy from actions undertaken in furtherance of the Climate Action Plan remain unknown as the Administration utilizes an internally-developed Social Cost of Carbon estimate that captures the global benefits while ignoring the domestic consequences.

• Without the "co-benefits" reductions in particulate matter and ozone precursors, actions to address carbon dioxide don't pass the cost-benefit test.

And, most importantly, abundant, affordable, reliable electricity drives economies and raises populations out of poverty. It drives our current manufacturing renaissance and competitive advantage around the world. Take that away and families, communities, and small businesses all suffer - and suffer unnecessarily for no tangible gain.

Thank you.

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