Last month, President Obama delivered a speech on climate change during which he announced his plans to increase regulations and impose a costly national tax on affordable energy sources. He intends to enact this proposal through executive action, avoiding Congress and the citizens they represent. Specifically, the president will authorize the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to issue new carbon emission standards for existing power plants.
While the President touted his plan as an effort to "do more" to combat climate change, it will actually do more to raise energy costs than reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
These burdensome new requirements placed on businesses will increase fuel and electricity prices and kill jobs across the country. Hardworking Americans--who will foot the bill when their energy and electricity bills go up--deserve to know exactly how much this new climate change policy will cost.
I agree it is important to examine the science surrounding climate change. I also believe before a problem can be solved, we must understand the nature of the problem itself. While some blame emissions of carbon dioxide for all kinds of harm--including extreme weather--there are various views even within the scientific community.
Earth scientist and Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Dr. Allison Macfarlane--appointed by President Obama--was asked at a hearing earlier this year what the NRC was doing to prepare for "extreme weather." She responded, "I would not call these events extreme. I would call them normal. They may be extreme because we have very limited experience on this earth with them, but they are normal events."
The President's plan also disregards the fact that the United States is not the primary global emitter of greenhouse gases. The biggest sources are China and India, two of our top economic competitors. Moreover, America's share of global greenhouse gas emissions has actually been declining for nearly a decade--from 25 percent in 2000 to 19 percent in 2008. Meanwhile, China's emissions have skyrocketed, increasing by 173 percent from 1998 to 2011, and show no signs of slowing down.
This reality raises the question of whether the environmental benefits of the President's plan are even discernible and importantly, whether they will be worth harming our country's economy at a time when so many Americans and middle class families are living paycheck to paycheck.
President Obama's order to the EPA to cut greenhouse gas emissions from power plants would most adversely impact coal-fired plants. America has more than 1,000 coal-fired generators at nearly 600 plant locations that generate 40 percent of America's affordable, reliable energy.
In Nebraska, nearly two-thirds of our state's electricity is produced from coal-fired plants, which are an integral part of our state's public power system. Under the President's plan, Nebraska's primary source of electricity would be disproportionately penalized, resulting in increased compliance costs on utilities and rising energy prices for Nebraska families and businesses.
Members of Congress have an important responsibility to exercise oversight of federal policy decisions impacting their constituents. That is why I am so troubled by the President's call for unilateral, executive action authorizing EPA to implement these new carbon emission standards without Congressional approval.
I co-sponsored legislation that would require the president to submit his new energy tax proposal for a vote in Congress, rather than enacting it through executive fiat. The American people have a right to have their voices heard, and that means having their elected representatives weigh in.
Instead of promoting a regulatory regime that will raise energy prices, kill jobs, and hurt our economy, the president should be putting forth energy proposals that face reality. It's time to move toward the "all of the above" energy strategy the American people were promised and pursue current opportunities we have here at home to enhance our energy supply and lower prices.
Thank you for participating in the democratic process. I look forward to visiting with you again next week.