Madame Chairman, I have found the legislative hearings conducted over the last week to be quite informative, as I'm sure has been the case for other Members of the Committee. As we begin the process of digesting the testimony, I would like to share what I think are the common themes of all these hearings: this will be very, very costly; the impacts will be severe; and the bill will have significant impacts on energy markets.
There remain some fringe elements who still claim that this bill will create jobs instead of destroy them. But most people are acknowledging that this bill will cost a great deal of money. Indeed, I appreciate the acknowledgment by one of the sponsors of this bill, Senator Lieberman, who was quite candid that this bill will cost hundreds of billions of dollars. We have heard testimony from perhaps the premier econometric modeling firms in the country that found the impacts of this bill would be substantial - with national costs escalating to between $800 billion to $1 trillion per year and costs of up to $2700 annually or more than $200 per month to the average family. Within just a few years, up to 2.3 million people will be put out of work by this bill and the cost of gasoline, natural gas and electricity will skyrocket, with electricity prices climbing 36-65 percent.
The Midwest and the South will see the most dramatic increases. If we're lucky, the Northeast and California will see dramatic increases in LNG imports. If we're not, the economic consequences of this bill would be even worse.
A November 6 Washington Post article put it succinctly when it stated that the current global warming proposals "will require a wholesale transformation of the nation's economy and society."
The fact is that many U.S. businesses are at the margin, and industries such as iron and steel, concrete, fertilizer, and manufactured goods would be forced overseas where the carbon footprint would only grow. I would also add that if the costs to provide concrete increases dramatically, it will drive up the costs of highway projects. Moreover, no one has any idea how we will make up the over 30% energy shortfall by 2020.
Much has been made about the California experience, but it is important to remember they are still in the planning phase, and not only have they not decided how to make their reductions yet, but they haven't starting reducing yet either.
The fact is that this bill is not ready for prime time. It appears structured to fail. While they have yet to oppose it officially, it is clear from the positions taken by organized labor that it has serious concerns with this bill and what that will mean to America's workers. In closing, I would ask my colleagues who are thinking of voting for this bill one question: for all the pain and disruption this bill will cause to our nation's families, what are we buying?
From EPA's October 1st analysis, it is clear that our unilateral actions of this magnitude will still do nothing to avert increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases - instead of being slightly above 700 parts per million at the end of the century, we will be at slightly under 700 parts per million - 300 parts per million above today's levels. If there is to be any opportunity to reduce global concentrations, it will have to come from the emerging nations that will be responsible for increasing those concentrations. This bill fails to do that.
It was true ten years ago when we passed Byrd-Hagel, and it is true today - we should not pass a law if it harms the American economy or if developing countries are not part of the equation. This bill fails on both those fronts and should be rejected.