Sen. Kerry is badly misinformed about many of the key details and issues surrounding the climate change policy debate
Inhofe Point by Point Rebuttal to Senator Kerry 30 Minute Filibuster
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“In reading through the document, one will see that Sen. Kerry is badly misinformed about many of the key details and issues surrounding the climate change policy debate.”
On October 27, 2009, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) appeared before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works to speak on behalf of the Kerry-Boxer cap-and-trade bill. Sen. Kerry spoke uncontested for 28 minutes, allowing no time for questions by members of the Committee.
The following is a line-by-line analysis of Sen. Kerry’s assertions. In reading through the document, one will see that Sen. Kerry is badly misinformed about many of the key details and issues surrounding the climate change policy debate.
KERRY: “Are there some costs? Yes sir, there are some costs.”
FACT: Sen. Kerry is correct that cap-and-trade will impose costs in the form of higher prices for electricity and gasoline. Cap-and-trade will also destroy jobs, even after accounting for so-called “green jobs.”
- According to the National Black Chamber of Commerce, the Waxman-Markey bill would increase gas prices by 19 cents a gallon in 2015, by 38 cents per gallon in 2030, and by 95 cents per gallon in 2050. Also, electricity bills would rise by about 4% to 5% in the 2020, and as Waxman-Markey’s allocations are phased out, “bills would rise more dramatically.”
- According to the National Association of Manufacturers, in 2030, because of Waxman-Markey, “the inflation adjusted, annual GDP level is reduced by 1.8% (or $419 billion) under the low cost scenario and by 2.4% (or $571 billion) under the high cost scenario, compared to the baseline forecast.” To put these GDP losses in perspective, in 2008 the Federal government spent $612 billion on social security payments to retirees. Looked at another way, if GDP levels are reduced by $571 billion in 2030, Federal and State tax receipts will be approximately $170 billion lower that year since Federal and State governments take approximately 30 cents out of every dollar of GDP.
- According to the Congressional Budget Office, the Waxman-Markey bill will result in a net loss of jobs. And the so-called “transition” to a green economy will impose severe hardships on those who lose their jobs because of cap-and-trade. Doug Elmendorf, director of the CBO, said the “transition” will be painful: it will mean leaving high-paying jobs, moving away from hometowns, and “significant reductions in lifetime earnings.”
- In a recent Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) asked the government witnesses-CBO, EPA, EIA, and CRS-whether anyone disagreed with the finding that the net effect of cap-and-trade would be a reduction in jobs. None did.
KERRY: “NASA scientists - the best experts we have - tell us that the last ten years have been the hottest decade on record.”
FACT: In an October 9 story titled, “What happened to global warming,” the BBC (no friend to climate skeptics) wrote: “This headline may come as a bit of a surprise, so too might that fact that the warmest year recorded globally was not in 2008 or 2007, but in 1998. But it is true. For the last 11 years we have not observed any increase in global temperatures. Moreover, the BBC added: “And our climate models did not forecast it, even though man-made carbon dioxide, the gas thought to be responsible for warming our planet, has continued to rise.”
KERRY: “That’s why the countries of the world-including India, China and the United States-have agreed to limit the global rise in temperature to two degrees Celsius.”
FACT: China is the world’s leading emitter of CO2; India is the 3rd largest. Sen. Kerry never mentioned that China and India continue to reject mandatory, verifiable, binding emissions reductions. Consider this statement on June 30, reported in Bloomberg News, from India’s Environment Minister, Jairam Ramesh: “‘India will not accept any emission-reduction target—period,” Ramesh said. “This is a non-negotiable stand.’”
Or consider this statement from a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry: “China will not make a binding commitment to reduce carbon emissions, putting in jeopardy the prospects for a global pact on climate change…” The spokesman went on to say that China is a developing country and its priority was to develop its economy, alleviate poverty and raise living standards. “Given that,” he said, “it is natural for China to have some increase in emissions, so it is not possible for China to accept a binding or compulsory target.”
KERRY: “The pollution reduction measures in this bill are tightly focused for maximum impact: Only companies emitting 25,000 tons of carbon each year are covered. These are big polluters-with an output equivalent to 2,300 homes, 4,600 automobiles, or 130 railway cars full of coal. Even as it exempts office buildings, apartments, homes, malls and stadiums, farmers, small firms, and over 98 percent of America’s businesses, the bill still covers three-quarters of America’s carbon pollution. So this is a smart way to start the ball rolling and transition America to clean energy.”
FACT: First, the Kerry-Boxer bill contains no provisions to stop EPA’s endangerment finding, which would trigger a flood of regulations under the Clean Air Act. As such, all of the sources Sen. Kerry mentions would be covered by some form of regulation under the act.
- Second, Sen. Kerry ignores the fact that the sources he mentions would be severely impacted by higher energy prices, declines in productivity, fewer jobs, and the sluggish economy that would arise because of Kerry-Boxer and Waxman-Markey. The National Black Chamber of Commerce found that under Waxman-Markey, “businesses and consumers would face higher energy and transportation costs,” which would “lead to increased costs of other goods and services throughout the economy. As the costs of goods and services rise, household disposable income and household consumption would fall. Wages and returns on investment would also fall, resulting in lower productivity growth and reduced employment opportunities.”
KERRY: “Third, climate change and our dependence on foreign oil are a threat to our national security. There’s nothing conservative about remaining indebted to hostile regimes for our energy.”
FACT: Sen. Kerry is right, which is why the United States should focus on developing its own resources. According to a new report by the Congressional Research Service, America’s combined recoverable natural gas, oil, and coal resources are the largest on Earth. Yet because of government policies that Sen. Kerry strongly supports, 83% of federal onshore land is inaccessible or restricted.
KERRY: “Eleven former Admirals and high-ranking generals issued a seminal report warning that climate change is a “threat multiplier” with “the potential to create sustained natural and humanitarian disasters on a scale far beyond those we see today.” Why? Because climate change injects a major new source of chaos, tension, and human insecurity into an already volatile world. It threatens to bring more famine and drought, worse pandemics, more natural disasters, more resource scarcity, and human displacement on a staggering scale. We risk fanning the flames of failed-statism, and offering glaring opportunities to the worst actors in our international system. In an interconnected world, that endangers all of us. Senator Warner, a friend to many here, will speak eloquently to the national security case for preventing catastrophic climate change.”
FACT: First, the Waxman-Markey and Kerry-Boxer bills would do virtually nothing to stop pandemics, droughts, floods and the like. According to an analysis by Chip Knappenberger, a former official with Virginia’s State Climatology Office, “No matter how the economic and regulatory issues shake out, [Waxman-Markey] will have virtually no impact on the future course of the earth’s climate.” Knappenberger quantified the temperature reduction that would occur because of Waxman-Markey. “By the year 2050,” he said, “the Waxman-Markey Climate Bill would result in a global temperature ‘savings’ of about 0.05ºC.” And this is the case, Knappenberger found, regardless of the IPCC scenario used.
- Knappenberger’s analysis is consistent with Tom Wigley’s conclusions about the temperature impacts of the Kyoto Protocol. It should be noted that Wigley believes that the Earth is warming due to human activities. He thinks Kyoto is an “important first step” to reduce emissions. According to the website of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, Wigley concluded that “the impact on projected temperature increases, with all countries doing only what is required under Kyoto and then continuing with business as usual, would be a scant 0.06 to 0.11°C (0.11 to 0.20°F) shaved off the total warming, roughly a 3% reduction.”
- Finally, the putative catastrophes of climate change will not be the sources of future wars and conflicts. Rather, according to Major General (Ret.) Robert Scales, wars and conflicts “will be precipitated in the future by the same prosaic and predictable factors that have ignited human conflict for millennia: miscalculations by egomaniacal leaders, the coveting of territory, contests over strategic resources such as oil, simple greed, religious or ideological fanaticism as well as many other forms of political, social and tribal friction.”
- A far greater strategic threat, according to Scales, “will come from a dramatically reduced access to raw and refined fossil fuels” caused by Kerry-Boxer.
KERRY: “Fourth, America’s leadership is also on the line. While the Senate stands still, the world is racing ahead: Japan, Mexico, Brazil, South Korea, the EU, and Australia have committed to significant emissions cuts. Last month, Chinese President Hu Jintao pledged to reduce China’s emissions below projected levels. India, for its part, is working on its own domestic legislation to reduce carbon pollution. So it is a myth that China and India have been sitting on the sidelines. The truth is, they’ve been coming to the negotiating table with concrete actions and commitments, and they’re waiting for us to do the same!”
- FACT: There are several inaccuracies in this statement. First, Sen. Kerry claims that “Hu Jintao pledged to reduce China’s emissions below projected levels.” But Sen. Kerry flatly ignores the fact that Hu Jintao also expressed adamant opposition to mandatory, binding emissions cuts, which is the critical point. According to MSNBC, “While Hu’s comments were well-received, he did not budge from China’s stance that it and other developing economies should not have to agree to mandatory cuts in greenhouse gases. Developing nations ‘should not ... be asked to take on obligations that go beyond their development stage,’ Hu said.” According to the report, “Beijing wants to link emissions to growth in gross domestic product, meaning it still may increase emissions even as it takes fundamental steps to curb them in the long run.”
- Sen. Kerry also claims that India “is working on its own domestic legislation to reduce carbon pollution.” As the Washington Post reported, India is considering energy efficiency, building codes, and fuel economy standards-it is not considering cap-and-trade. At best, these steps are loosely related to climate change. And Sen. Kerry ignores the key point: according to the Washington Post, “[India’s] cuts would be a national goal; they would be neither an internationally binding commitment nor open to international verification.”
- As for Australia, the Australian Senate in August rejected Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s climate change legislation. As Bloomberg News reported, “Senators voted 42 to 30 against the law, which included plans for a carbon trading system similar to one used in Europe.”
- In Japan, Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama has vowed to cut carbon emissions 25 percent from 1990 levels by 2020. Yet, as Bloomberg News reported, “His proposal is contingent on other countries adopting targets as well, something China, the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gasses, has resisted.”
KERRY: “Fifth, and as important as anything, if we act, the economic opportunities will be enormous: millions of new jobs and major improvements in every sector of the energy economy. But if we hang back, we know what will happen, because it is happening already.”
FACT: The director of the Congressional Budget office said the Waxman-Markey bill will cause an overall net reduction in jobs. The National Black Chamber of Commerce reached the same conclusion: “The present study finds that the cap-and-trade program would lead to increases in spending on energy efficiency and renewable energy, and as a result that significant numbers of people would be employed in “green jobs” that would not exist in a no carbon policy world. However, any calculation of jobs created in these activities is incomplete if not supplemented with a calculation of the reduced employment in other industries and the decline in the average salary that would result from the associated higher energy costs and lower overall productivity in the economy. This study finds that even after accounting for green jobs, there is a substantial and long-term net reduction in total labor earnings and employment. This is the unintended but predictable consequence of investing to create a ‘green energy future’.”
KERRY: “Today, only five of the top thirty companies in the world in solar, wind and advanced batteries are based in the United States. We invented solar and wind technology, but we let others master it first, and now Germany has created 280,000 renewable energy jobs and actually employs more people in its renewable energy sector than in the legendary German auto industry.”
FACT: Sen. Kerry should read a new study titled, “Economic impacts from the promotion of renewable energies: the German experience,” by the German think tank Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung (RWI), which found that Germany’s feed-in tariff-basically a subsidy for electricity produced by wind and solar power-has “failed to harness the market incentives needed to ensure a viable and cost-effective introduction of renewable energies into the country’s energy portfolio.” The authors concluded that the “government’s support mechanisms have in many respects subverted these incentives, resulting in massive expenditures that show little long-term promise for stimulating the economy, protecting the environment, or increasing energy security.”
- As an example of these “massive expenditures,” the study shows that per-worker subsidies for photovoltaics reaches as high as 175,000 € (US $240,000). And despite being heavily subsidized by German taxpayers, “the amount of electricity produced through solar photovoltaics was a negligible 0.6%.”
KERRY: “State by state, a smart energy bill can deliver growth and jobs. Wind energy alone can bring tremendous economic benefits. In Montana, there’s a plan to build a $25 million wind turbine manufacturing plant in Butte, with scientists trained at Montana Tech. In Pennsylvania, the wind turbine manufacturer Gamesa has invested over $175 million and put over 1,100 Pennsylvanians to work. In Norman, Oklahoma there’s a 30-year-old family-owned company that has become the third-largest manufacturer of small wind turbines in the world, with installations in all 50 states and over 100 countries. And that’s just a few examples from one clean energy sector!”
FACT: Sen. Kerry apparently doesn’t understand that manufacturing parts for wind turbines is highly energy-intensive. The Kerry-Boxer and Waxman-Markey bills intentionally seek to raise energy prices, for consumers and businesses alike. Waxman-Markey could force these manufacturing facilities to move to China and India, both of which refuse to accept mandatory, binding emissions cuts. An analysis of Waxman-Markey by the National Association of Manufacturing concluded that, “Industrial production (manufacturing, mining and electric utilities) begins to decline immediately in 2012, relative to the baseline forecast, under the Waxman Markey bill. In 2030, U.S. industrial output levels are reduced by between 5.3 % and 6.5 % under the low and high cost scenarios.”
- Here is the number of jobs destroyed by Waxman-Markey for each state Sen. Kerry mentions:
Montana: By 2030, 4,964 to 6,761 jobs.
Pennsylvania: By 2030, 71,500 to 97,500 jobs.
Oklahoma: By 2030, 22,100 to 30,099 jobs
KERRY: “I understand that there is some concern inside the Senate that this process is moving too quickly. I’ll put aside my own feeling that a process that began over twenty years ago is quick only by Senate standards.”
FACT: Sen. Kerry should consult his fellow Democrats, many of whom oppose the Waxman-Markey and Kerry-Boxer bills. In the House, 44 Democrats voted against Waxman-Markey. In the Senate, the number of Democrats, particularly in the Senate, expressing reservations or outright opposition continues to grow. For example, just today, during the hearing at which Sen. Kerry appeared, Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) said, “I have some concerns about the overall direction of the bill before us today, and whether it will lead us closer to or further away from passing climate change legislation. For example, I have serious reservations with the depth of the mid-term reduction target in the bill and the lack of preemption of the Clean Air Act’s authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.”
- Some Democrats are regretting their vote. Consider the case of Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va.): “U.S. Rep. Rick Boucher voted for cap-and-trade legislation but said he doesn’t endorse the House-passed version of the bill,” read the lead of an Aug. 29 story in the Kingsport Times-News.
KERRY: “Failure to act comes with another cost. If Congress does not pass legislation dealing with climate change, the administration will use the Environmental Protection Agency to impose new regulations. Imposed regulations are likely to be tougher and they certainly will not include the job protections and investment incentives we are proposing.”
FACT: Sen. Kerry’s apparent concern for EPA regulations would have more credibility if he actually included provisions in the Kerry-Boxer bill to preempt EPA regulation under the Clean Air Act (note: see Sen. Baucus’s statement above).