Vitter Summary Statement for Subcommittee Hearing on Natural Resource Adaptation
U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Oversight “Natural Resource Adaptation: Protecting Ecosystems and Economies”
February 25, 2014
Thank you Chairman Whitehouse and Ranking Member Inhofe for scheduling today's hearing to discuss the ecological impacts of our ever-changing climate. The issues surrounding "global warming" have a long history of claims that have sometimes undermined any constructive debate we might have on climate issues. They have also fueled a politically driven narrative where such claims, including "the science is settled," are allowed to frustrate critical thinking. I have always said that until the science is settled, we need to look at the end goal of what the people pushing the agenda want. And their goal is to implement economically devastating federal policies that limit the use of traditional energy sources that are a major driver of Louisiana's economy. That's why today's hearing is timely and important.
It's important to have a constructive discussion on how to adapt to a constantly changing climate, and it is disappointing that the discussion has deteriorated to such a point where legitimate questions are simply dismissed because they don't agree with the narrative pushed by a political agenda.
As Dr. Judith Curry recently pointed out in testimony before this Committee, oversimplification and unidirectional investment in climate science has led us down the path to where we are today. Some of the world's most intelligent scientists are actively skeptical that anthropogenic CO2 emissions are the primary driver of the earth's climate, and yet their opinions are cast aside.
We should ask ourselves and the scientific community to look into what is behind extreme weather events. Are they getting worse due to human influence alone? Or is there a natural variability in the earth's climate and other influences that we don't yet understand?
Now let me be clear, I believe it is imperative that appropriate research in understanding the earth's climate be done. I also believe that, in representing a State where extreme weather events and coastal erosion have been occurring for a very long time, understanding and preparing for such events is critical to human safety. However, we need to move forward in a manner that makes sense and is based on actual facts, as opposed to misperceptions that are pushed by those who seek to silence actual debate in an attempt to grow government and crony capitalism.
I would propose a few questions. Should we, as this Administration desires, end the use of coal-fired power plants in favor of technologies like wind and solar energy? Or, should we consider the massive land use that those energy sources require and further research whether that land use is actually worse for the environment than the impacts of more traditional energy sources? Should we provide more opportunity for local or regional level decisions, or is the appropriate answer, as some in this room are pushing, an unyielding hand at the federal and international planning level?
Much of today's discussion will focus on the need for sound science. Perhaps it is time to increase the percentage of investment in climate research that investigates natural variability and non-human influences on our climate. Perhaps the reason we still can't predict the climate, despite billions of dollars in research, is because so much money goes to only investigating anthropogenic gases and theoretical human influences? If scientists and my colleagues are concerned with getting the best return on our investment, then let me make you aware of a couple very clear facts:
• According to the EPA's own website, total GHG emissions have only risen 1% in the U.S. since 2005, while levels in China, India, and Russia have combined to rise more than 6%.
• According to the Department of Energy's website, for every one ton of CO2 emissions the U.S. has reduced in recent years, China and India have increased their usage by four tons.
Those two facts suggest that unilateral action by the United States will have no impact on global GHG emissions and make me question why the Administration is looking to enact unilateral policies that will make energy more expensive for most Americans.
While the vast majority of climate models and alarmist predictions in recent decades have either fizzled out or been proven otherwise, I am hopeful that some level of civil discourse is brought back to the discussion before the Administration's policies make energy unaffordable for those who are less fortunate in the same way that similar policies in Germany and the UK have impacted their taxpayers, especially their underprivileged populations. I hope that at some juncture everyone steps back and asks themselves what has proven real, the climate models and catastrophic predictions, or the negative energy and economic consequences folk were warning about before adopting policies based on those catastrophic predictions. Thank you.