Congress Budget for the United States Government for Fiscal Year 2009

Floor Speech

By:  James DeMint
Date: May 15, 2008
Location: Washington, DC




Mr. DeMINT. Madam President, I send a motion to the desk.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will report.

The legislative clerk read as follows:

The Senator from South Carolina [Mr. DeMint] moves that the conferees on the part of the Senate on the disagreeing votes of the two Houses on the concurrent resolution S. Con. Res. 70 (the concurrent resolution on the budget for fiscal year 2009) be instructed to insist that if the final conference report includes section 304 of S. Con. Res. 70, the deficit neutral reserve fund to invest in clean energy, preserve the environment and provide for certain settlements, as passed by the Senate, that such section shall include an additional requirement that legislation providing for new mandates on greenhouse gas emissions that would harm the United States economy or result in a loss of jobs should not be enacted unless similar mandates are enacted by China and India.

Mr. DeMINT. Madam President, I want to take a few moments to explain this motion. I hope we can all agree on it. If there is one thing that we hear from both sides when we are talking about trade around the world, and trade agreements, it is there needs to be a level playing field; that trade needs to be fair; that the terms should be the same on both sides.

This motion to instruct the conferees addresses that one issue. It would prevent Congress from passing any law with new mandates on greenhouse gas emissions that would harm the U.S. economy or result in job loss unless both China and India had the same mandates--in other words, if we had a level playing field. It is not going to help the environment in the United States or the world if we pass mandates that raise the cost of doing business in our country, particularly those companies that are energy intensive, especially manufacturing, if we create mandates that do not exist in India or China. Our companies will simply relocate to other countries, taking American jobs with them.

The point of this motion is to put in front of all of the conferees the idea that it is important for us to reduce greenhouse emissions, to reduce CO2 emissions all over the world. But it is also important for us to keep in mind that if we do something that is isolated to the United States, that hurts our economy and costs us jobs. It makes no sense if we don't require the major industrial countries, such as China and India, to do the same.

So we have seen over the last 15 years that CO2 emissions in the United States have actually grown less than the economy has grown. So our productivity is increasing, and our use per capita, as far as CO2, is actually declining. We see at the same time a 100-percent increase in emissions from China and India. Anybody who watched the prelude to the Olympics in China can see the results of that in the air.

So I ask my colleagues--particularly the conferees--to support the idea that we will not do anything that puts new emissions standards on our companies in this country, if we know it is going to hurt the economy or jobs, and that we need to insist the same standards apply in China and India.

With that, I will yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum.


Mr. DeMINT. Madam President, I appreciate the comments by my colleague from California. Certainly, it should be our highest priority as a nation to continue to remove CO2 emissions throughout our country. We don't need to wait for any other country to act, only our own.

We do need to recognize that if we put such a burden on our industries in America, they will move production to China, and they will do their polluting somewhere else rather than here. If that is what our legislation does, then we do nothing for the environment, and the only thing we do for our country is send jobs overseas. We need to be smarter in how we deal with this matter.

The side-by-side motion by my colleague from California would add insult to injury. She wants to leave us open to lose jobs in America by putting mandates on our companies that hurt our economy and cost us jobs. Then she wants to add taxes on products that are coming from other countries that don't abide by our mandates so that products cost more for the people who live here, many of whom would not have jobs.

We cannot solve our environmental problems with this kind of convoluted logic. The motion I have put forward simply says if--and only if--a mandate is known to hurt our economy and costs our jobs, then we need to figure out a different way to deal with it than to put a mandate on a U.S. company in competition with businesses that don't have the same mandate in other countries we trade with.

It is only common sense, and it doesn't make sense, again, to send jobs overseas and then try to add taxes to products that we buy from around the world. I encourage my colleagues to think this through. Let me provide a few more facts about what we are trying to do.

We need to work to reduce greenhouse gases, and there are many things we can do that do not hurt our economy and don't drive jobs out of our country. In fact, if we look at it closely, good economics is usually good for the environment. We see that if we move with all compassion but just knee-jerk reactions, we end up with programs, such as an ethanol mandate, that do not help the environment, raise the price of food, and hurt people all over the world. I am afraid that same type of thinking is going on right now.

It is a laudable goal, one with which I agree, that we should continue to work in all reasonable ways to reduce CO2 emissions in our country.

One recent study from the University of California found that China passed the United States in carbon emissions in 2006 and is now the largest pollution-producing country in the world. This has just been in a few short years, and they are growing much faster than we are.

We do need to keep in mind that carbon in the air that comes from China does as much to hurt the worldwide environment, if, in fact, it does affect global warming--it doesn't matter if it is coming from the United States or China. If we ignore what other countries are doing, we do it at our own peril.

My motion is very similar to bipartisan agreements that we had in the Congress when discussing the Kyoto agreement. It makes no sense to bind our own companies with expensive mandates if we do not have cooperation from countries in other parts of the world. We simply move our production and our jobs somewhere else. So we need to be logical about it.

I mentioned before, according to a World Bank study, both China and India have increased CO2 emissions by nearly 100 percent from 1990 to 2004, while the United States emissions in that same period only increased by 25 percent, which is less than the growth of our economy during that period.

This emissions scheme we have talked about would export American manufacturing jobs to China and India. With the solution that is being presented by my colleague from California, she is basically saying: OK, let's hurt the economy and lose jobs in this country, but we can make up for it by raising prices of goods that come to us from China and India. That is not going to help anyone in this country, and it is not going to do anything to reduce emissions in the world. It is playing musical chairs with American jobs and basically encouraging the environment to be spoiled in other parts of the world.

In order to truly address greenhouse gas emissions, it is imperative that China, India, and other countries that are emitting need to work together. So if we take this on simply as one country, we will hurt ourselves, we would not help the environment and we will send jobs overseas and actually encourage pollution, magnified, in effect, by not acting in a way that tries to seek cooperation around the world.

I certainly encourage my colleagues to respond to the need to reduce CO2 emissions and to look at ways we are doing it already that actually create jobs and don't take them from our country. But let's not solve the problem by making it worse and shipping our jobs and pollution overseas and expect to do any good with our legislation.

Madam President, I reserve the remainder of my time and yield the floor.


Mr. DeMINT. Mr. President, my motion has been mischaracterized, I am afraid. I am opposed to the Boxer motion because it would clearly, from the language, add tariffs or some kind of penalties to imports from around the world, unless emissions standards in other countries match ours, I guess, exactly.

This would add to the cost of products that are purchased by Americans. My motion is one that tries to keep jobs in this country. Unfortunately, my colleague is suggesting, I am afraid, as many have over the years, that we have two false choices. We either have a good economy or we have a good environment. Those are not the choices.

In fact, my motion would allow us to continue to develop nuclear generation, which is good for the environment and the economy, or hydrogen cars or electric cars or hybrid cars. Most of what we can do is good for the environment and improves the economy. My motion simply says: We cannot pass legislation unless other countries go along, otherwise we are exporting jobs and pollution.


Mr. DeMINT. Mr. President, during the last vote, some of my Republican and Democratic colleagues asked me if it didn't make sense to vote for both these motions. Both understand we need to be careful in mandates that hurt our economy and jobs, unless we recognize what other countries are doing when they are polluting.

My motion focuses on here at home. I want to make sure folks understand what it is about.

Most of the things we can do to improve our environment and to stop CO2 emissions can actually improve our economy. We know, as we try to build dozens, if not hundreds, of nuclear plants, it will create new jobs all over the country and improve our economy, just as Europe has done. Solar panels and wind, as well as hybrid cars and hydrogen fuel--all of these things are good for the economy and energy. My motion--

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator's time has expired.

Mr. DeMINT. Could I get another minute?

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?

Without objection, it is so ordered.

Mr. DeMINT. I thank the Chair.

My motion does not affect any of the attempts to reduce CO2 emissions except when we know it is hurting the economy and hurting jobs. In that case, we cannot move ahead with penalties and mandates unless China and India--the two largest polluting countries--have similar emissions standards. So it is just a ``hold on,'' let's not hurt our economy and ourselves. There are many ways we can reduce CO2 emissions without hurting jobs in this country.

I encourage my colleagues to support this motion.

Thank you, Mr. President.

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