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Statement of Senator Enzi on the Lieberman Warner Bill
June 3, 2008

Posted By Marc Morano – 5:58 PM ET – Marc_Morano@EPW.Senate.Gov  

Statement of Senator Enzi on the Lieberman Warner Bill

June 3, 2008

Click Here for Senator Enzi's Press Release 

   Mr. President, I have an important message for everyone listening to me right now. This bill will cost you money! It will make your gasoline more expensive. It will increase your electric bills - dramatically. It will take hard earned money out of your pockets. Companies don’t pay the cost of higher energy - they pass it to you, the customer. You need to think about what you want to pay for your gas and electricity in 2013 when this bill has its full effect on you.

   How willing are you to pay the personal cost of global warming legislation - even if it probably won’t make a difference? What you and I need is a bill that spurs innovation and recognizes what is possible with technology. What you and I need is a bill that cleans the environment, without destroying our economy. I am in favor of using alternative sources of energy and reducing emissions and giving incentive to invent cleaner air. I am in favor of increasing our supplies of energy. I am in favor of actions that bring down your cost of energy

   We are now debating an issue that Congress has been discussing a lot lately. We have held hundreds of hearings on the issue of global warming and today we have before us a piece of legislation that is the product of those hearings.

   I’ve been involved in the global warming debate for a long time. I was a member of the original Senate delegation who attended the Kyoto Conference, at which the Kyoto Protocol was created. I saw immediately at that conference that it wasn’t an environmental conference - it was an economic conference with the United States as a target. Well before that, I was also the Mayor of Gillette, Wyoming, the largest coal producing area in the nation. Like many of my colleagues, I’ve spent a lot of time studying this issue.

   Some say this bill is essential. I'm not convinced that such is the case because I'm not convinced it takes the right approach to reducing emissions. We may need to address this issue, but not through the legislation that we have before us today.

   I'm concerned that this is a piece of legislation that will make energy much more expensive for Americans at a time when the number one issue that I am hearing about is the need to decrease energy prices. I'm concerned that we are debating a bill that will send American jobs overseas. I'm concerned that we are debating a bill that will irrevocably harm our ability to use our nation's most abundant energy source – coal.

   I am not a fearmonger. I am an environmentalist. I am in favor of using alternative sources of energy. As my constituents will tell you, we have great potential for wind energy and solar energy in Wyoming. I'm for conservation. We need to find ways to consume less energy. I'm for inventions that reduce gasoline and diesel consumption, and I'm for inventions that reduce or eliminate all chemicals and gasses. But I am not a fearmonger.

   We have held congressional hearings - but hearings around here aren’t designed to get at the truth they are to make a preconceived point. The chairman selects all the panel members but one. The Ranking Republican gets to pick that one. Then both sides show up to make specific points and to discredit any other approach. We have a bill before us that is one approach to this issue. Now, we need to determine if it is a sensible solution, and we must determine what you are willing to pay, what we are willing to make you, our constituents pay, to implement the plan that we have before us today to address global warming. I suspect that my constituents are not willing to pay the enormous costs associated with this bill.

   This bill is a one size fits all approach. It is expensive. It creates a huge new bureaucracy. It assumes technology is further along than it truly is and it ignores the fact that nations like China and India do not have similar programs. What we need is a bill that spurs innovation and recognizes what is possible with technology. What we need is a bill that recognizes that, if we want a clean environment, we cannot destroy our economy.

   I figured out when I was Mayor of Gillette and we were going to have a coal boom that we could wait to be run over or we could work to realize benefits from development. We worked with the mines. We got the necessary facilities and amenities their employees would like. We made sure that they did a reclamation job that makes us proud.

   In the early days of my hometown’s coal boom, the critics of coal said, "Don't let them tear that area up. It isn't reclaimable." Today visitors to the Gillette area say, "don't let them tear that lush land up" and I have to say, "that's where the mine used to be and that area is where the mine is headed." Instead of reluctance, those same visitors say, "let the mines move ahead if they can improve it like that!" Of course, the next generation is going to say, "you moved all that dirt and you didn't make a bigger difference than that?"

   You see, the mining companies have to put the contours back exactly as they found it. That comes from one-size-fits-all legislation. People in the East got upset with mountaintop removal and they should be upset when that occurs. But, we mine coal differently in Wyoming. Our coal is in 60 to 90 foot seams under a few feet of dirt.

   When we talk about coal mining, the first question should be: "What would we hurt by mining?" The second question should be: "Can we improve on what was there before? Are there any local needs that could be met?" Wildlife is part of Wyoming's heritage. It is a part of our recreation and even our food. What can we do to improve the habitat for wildlife? These questions are all asked before we allow mining to move forward in Wyoming. Unfortunately, sometimes policy in Washington dictates that we can't do everything we want.

   A few years ago a prime emphasis from Washington was wetlands. Wyoming was photo surveyed during our wettest spring in years - and we have been maintaining at that level. But, as the Mayor of Gillette, I wanted to do better. I worked to get more wetlands on reclaimed mine property - but was turned down because they weren't wetlands before. I finally got permission for a demonstration on one mine. It worked beautifully. It looked lush and attracted the animals and birds that were supposed to be attracted. It was a marvelous success. Do you think we have been able in the next twenty years to do another project? NO we have NOT. And why not, because restrictive policies in Washington have held us back.

   The Lieberman-Warner bill is an example of a similar policy. Instead of recognizing that, if given the proper tools, American innovation can solve any climate crisis, the bill is prescriptive. Instead of trusting that industries will make advances and will improve technology providing they can pass the cost on, the bill assumes that technologies are far ahead of where they truly are. And it does so at a tremendous cost to consumers. You may be paying for huge costs that will not make any difference.

   There are so many studies on this bill you can't count them all, but the bottom line is that this bill is expensive. You can explain it any way you want, but this bill will increase the energy costs for all of you hard working Americans. I have heard a lot of my colleagues talk about the struggling middle class. Well, if you implement a policy that will significantly increase energy prices, they will struggle even more.

   There is also a lot of talk about the need for the United States to be the leader on climate policy. People argue that, if the United States acts, the world will follow. Europe is working to meet the greenhouse gas reduction standard they set by shipping their manufacturing to India and China because those countries don't have to meet any sort of standards. I don't want the United States to do the same thing. Presidential candidates are complaining about jobs going overseas. Whose jobs will be shipped out because of this bill. I can't support a bill like this that does little to include the developing world in this effort. We have already reduced our logging - and those jobs shipped overseas have almost eliminated the Siberian tiger. We’ve placed an emphasis on ethanol and have Brazilians chopping down the rain forests to plant corn.

   We are going to spend some time talking about this bill. What the American people need to know is that this bill costs money. It will make their gasoline more expensive. It will increase their electric bills. It will take hard earned money out of their pockets. It is the right time to have this debate so we can discuss the approach this bill is taking and determine if we are willing to saddle our constituents with the enormous costs caused by it.

   On June first, George Will did an editorial in the Washington Post. He exposes the cap and trade proposal of this bill for what it is - a carbon tax - but clever and hidden. When I was at the global warming conference in The Hague, the United States was negotiating to get some recognition for the increase in trees in the United States since they absorb Co2 and put out oxygen. The United States has had a significant increase in trees - and studies have shown that the trees absorb more Co2 than people in the United States put out. The other countries would not allow that since the conference every year has been an economic conference - not an environmental conference. But here is how cap and trade will work. Actually, here is how cap and trade will shift wealth. Landowners who have trees on their land can put their trees Co2 absorption on the market. The same trees that have been absorbing and transforming that the world will not credit will now be paid to do what they have always done - and you will pay for it at the gas pump and when you flip the electric switch or have your natural gas furnace or water heater come on. Oh, that’s right, the companies will buy the cap and trade credits for the trees and other absorbers - but you will really pay it as IT WILL BE PASSED ON! I want everyone listening to visualize opening your utility bill the month after this bill goes into effect. Can you see your shocked look as the already high bill is now 50% higher? But that is nothing. Visualize how high your bill will go when we really get into the spirit of selling credits. You will wonder what happened. Your utility will tell you that Washington foisted this expense on you. The utilities will explain how Congress forced them to buy Co2 credits to stop global warming. If it were a carbon tax - and I am NOT suggesting any new tax - if it were a carbon tax it would at least be in proportion to what you yourself used and could be transparent. If this bill becomes law should I have you visualize what will happen when you fill up your automobile? If you have a job manufacturing imagine what will happen to your job when India and China who have no constraints get your job because their energy with no environmental controls is cheaper. Without a way to increase energy supplies that we rely on every day so the prices come down, this bill is out of step with the times and will cost you - dollars - and perhaps your job.

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