406 Dirksen EPW Hearing Room

James M. Inhofe


Statement of Senator James M. Inhofe, Ranking Member

Madame Chairman, Chairman Sanders, thank you for scheduling this hearing today to examine whether solar energy can fuel our economic recovery. As I've stated many times, I support an all-of-the-above energy policy, which includes using renewable resources such as solar energy to power our economy. While we don't have much solar in Oklahoma, my state has been a leader in wind and geothermal technologies, simply because it makes economic sense to do it there. In fact, on January 8th, the Oklahoma Corporation Commission (OCC) issued two orders authorizing OGE to purchase electricity from two new wind farms currently being developed in northwestern Oklahoma. Both are expected to be in production by year's end and will provide an additional 280 megawatts to the state's already existing 1,130 megawatts of capacity.

I welcome all the witnesses, including Secretary Salazar and representatives from the various solar energy companies, as well as Professor Andrew Morriss. Professor Morriss will focus his comments on current and proposed policies to promote solar and other types of renewable energy, rather than on the technologies themselves.

We know that cap-and-trade or other schemes that raise energy prices are not the solutions that America wants or needs. To promote clean energy you don't have to restrict or penalize other energy sources. And the notion that energy companies will not invest in clean energy without government programs is a myth. According to the Pacific Research Institute, U.S. based oil and gas companies invested an estimated $121.3 billion from 2000 through 2007 on emerging energy technologies in the North American market.

Madame Chairman, we need an all-of-the-above energy policy that includes renewables but not at the expense of other domestic resources. Last fall, the Congressional Research Service released a report on America's combined recoverable oil, natural gas, and coal resources. CRS found that they are the largest recoverable resources on earth. CRS shows that if America opened access to its own resources, we could produce 167 billion barrels of oil, which is the equivalent of replacing America's current imports from OPEC for more than 75 years. The report also shows that, at today's rate of use, America possesses a 90-year supply of recoverable natural gas. To remain competitive, we need access to this resource base, which will help fuel our economic recovery and create thousands of jobs.

While I appreciate the opportunity to talk about this issue today, I am hopeful, Madame Chairman, that you will begin to schedule hearings on other issues, especially those concerning infrastructure. As I've said repeatedly, building highways and bridges can provide an immediate economic stimulus and create thousands of new jobs.

This is our first hearing in 2010. We know enough about climate change and cap-and-trade to put them aside-we know cap-and-trade means fewer jobs and higher energy prices. So let's focus instead on advancing issues that will put people back to work and get our economy moving again.