Vitter Summary Statement for Subcommittee Hearing on Climate Change
U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety “Climate Change: The Need to Act Now”
June 18, 2014
Thank you, Subcommittee Chairman Whitehouse, for convening today's hearing. I look forward to hearing from our witnesses here today: Dr. Daniel Botkin; Dr. Joseph Mason; and the Honorable Luther Strange. The science, economic consequences, and legal underpinnings of the EPA's actions to advance the President's Climate Action Plan are topics the Administration does not want us to discuss. However, their unilateral actions will increase America's electricity bills, decrease a family's disposable income, and result in job losses for little or no measurable impact on our ever changing climate.
On June 2, EPA proposed an unprecedented rule targeting our country's electricity system. Using a provision in the Clean Air Act that has only been used 5 times in 40 years, EPA goes beyond the boundaries of the power plant and requires States to set performance standards that apply to the entire electricity system, mandating renewable energy and rationing energy on which families and businesses rely. EPA argues this rule is a gift to States, that it provides States with the flexibility to create a program that works for them. In reality, though, the term "flexibility" is a red herring - States are forced into achieving questionable emission reduction targets from a limited menu of economically-damaging and legally questionable options. States are left little choice but to join or create regional cap-and-trade programs, which achieves the Administration's goal of making sure we all pay more for energy. Electricity prices in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative states and California are 45% more than in my home state of Louisiana. 56% of Louisiana families spend an average of 21% of their after-tax income on energy. They simply cannot afford the higher electricity bills that will inevitably result from this rule.
The rule is billed as climate change mitigation, with America leading the way. Unfortunately, anyone who has actually read the 645-page rule, as well as its multiple technical support documents, finds it has no material effect on global average temperature or sea level rise. The majority of the benefits touted by EPA come from double-counting reductions of other emissions already regulated through other measures. While this Administration expects other governments to consider the global effects of their greenhouse gas emissions when regulating - just as they did when creating the "black box" social cost of carbon estimates used to justify costly regulations - there is absolutely no reason to presume the world's biggest emitters will follow us down the path of economic destruction.
While extreme claims made over the last three decades about the devastating impacts of global warming failed to come true, empirical evidence does show us that the Earth's climate has, is, and always will be changing. Recently, many of the extreme weather claims being made were found to be without merit. Testimony previously provided to the Committee found that the historical record does not indicate that hurricanes, floods, and tornados have increased in number or intensity. In fact the models upon which temperature increase and sea level rise predictions rely are rife with uncertainty. What has come true is the economic calamity that befalls nations that head down the path President Obama unilaterally selected for America. It provides us a window into our future - and it looks bleak. Our friends in Europe adopted similar carbon constraining frameworks, filled with government mandates and cronyism, and were rewarded with economic meltdown. In an effort to recover, Germany is lifting its ban on fracking and increasing the use of coal, while Spain is abandoning the handouts that supported its renewable energy program. Instead of embracing our domestic energy resources and the bright economic light they provide in our otherwise dismal economy, the President's Climate Action Plan moves us beyond coal, and eventually beyond natural gas, which they characterize as a bridge fuel.
The burden of proof lies with the Administration and its allies to provide the specifics as to how we can power our future with wind, waves and solar-and how we can do it, as they claim we can, quickly and without any cost to the consumer or the broader economy. It's one thing to call for, as some have, moving to "100 percent renewable energy in 10 years." But the problem is, those who have actually done the math, and examined the details, whether it's the Energy Information Administration, the International Energy Agency, or even the IPCC, find that they can't avoid this inescapable fact: fossil fuels and nuclear will continue to meet demand for electricity for decades to come. There's simply no way around it, because coal, natural gas and nuclear are abundant, affordable, and reliable. If we deny this and pursue the pie-in-the-sky path of the Administration and environmental groups, we will end up like Europe.
Today, the American electricity system provides affordable reliable power 7 days a week, 365 days a year to families, schools, hospitals, and businesses. The existing source rule as proposed will increase costs to all consumers, especially the poor, the elderly, and those on fixed incomes for no material effect on climate change. In reality, this rule is essentially a federal takeover of the American electricity system. Is everyone here comfortable with the EPA being responsible for our electricity system?
Thank you, and I look forward to hearing from today's witnesses.