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Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, And Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2010

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, And Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2010


Mr. VITTER. Madam President, I rise to talk about the Kerry-Boxer climate change bill which, sadly, was reported out of the EPW Committee, contrary to its rules and precedents, without any discussion or amendment.

First of all, let me underscore that I think it is very unfortunate that a 1,000-page bill, a bill with enormous potential impact on our economy--indeed, on our way of life--was pushed out of committee with no Republicans being present, with not a single amendment being considered, and, in my opinion, directly contrary to the very rules and precedents of the committee. But I want to focus on specific provisions of the bill that are particularly troubling to me that underscore how serious a matter this is and what an enormous impact it could have on our economy and, indeed, on our way of life.

I guess in many ways the title of the presentation is ``Why Carbon Credits Don't Matter.'' So many folks, so many companies, so many people particularly within the beltway are concerned about their allocation of carbon credits. But because of these significant sections in the bill which also exist word-for-word in the Waxman-Markey bill, the carbon credits will not matter because sections 705 and 707 will shut down significant economic activity, no matter what carbon credits certain people and certain companies have.

Let me explain what I am talking about. Section 705(e) and section 707 are very important in the bill. Basically, section 705(e) says that we are to track the global measurement of greenhouse gas emissions and specifically to see if they are held below a threshold set in the bill, a goal set in the bill of 450 parts per million carbon dioxide equivalent. Then section 707 says that, beginning July 1, 2015, if the global concentrations are above this 450 parts per million line, then:

..... the President shall direct relevant Federal agencies to use existing statutory authority to take appropriate actions identified in the reports submitted under sections 705 and 706 and to address any shortfalls identified in such reports.

What does that mean? That means if you bust this 450 parts per million line, the President does not have authority to take action; he is mandated to take every administrative action possible, to use every agency in the Federal Government under him--he shall direct them to address whatever shortfalls there are between that 450 parts per million line and where the measurements are.

One significant factor in all of this, whether we can ever reach that goal of limiting greenhouse gases to 450 parts per million, is what other countries, particularly the developing world, are going to do.

One thing that is really problematic with this entire plan is the G5 developing countries and Russia have made it crystal clear that they will not accept any hard caps. I cite here a clear quote from a top Chinese Foreign Ministry official, a clear quote from the Minister of State for Environment of India and the top economic adviser of Russia's President about that issue. All of these statements and many more make it crystal clear that the G5 and Russia will not accept any such hard cap.

This is a pretty significant issue. Because of this, I wrote to the EPA on July 15 and asked several questions. One is basic to this issue: What does your modeling say if the G5 and Russia reject hard caps? That is a pretty significant scenario because it seems pretty clear that it is the scenario that will happen based on the statements of those countries. The EPA answered that it has not even analyzed that scenario. These other countries have made it clear they are going to reject hard caps. The EPA has not analyzed this scenario.

Because of that, I then went to the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. That is the leading modeling expert in these matters that Federal Government agencies, starting with the EPA, depend upon. In fact, the EPA helped direct us to this laboratory. I asked the same question: What does the modeling say if the G5 and Russia reject hard caps as they have absolutely promised to do? The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory answered that none of the models they use--and they use 10 models--none of those models, under this scenario, produced global concentrations at or below 450 ppm of CO-equivalent greenhouse gases. So under all of those models we break through this goal set in the bill.

This chart shows what DOE's specific Northwest National Laboratory model predicts when the G5 and Russia reject all hard caps. Already we are in the four hundreds. In about 1 year we break through the 450 limit--451. Then it goes up from there.

What does that mean in the context of this legislation and, specifically, the sections I talked about a minute ago? Well, the legislation says that on July 1, 2015, if this green line is above 450, then the President is mandated to take whatever action is necessary: Use all tools available to get us back to this 450 limit.

Under this scenario, the G5 and Russia rejecting hard caps, which is an absolute certainty based on their clear pronouncements, this mandate, under those significant sections of the legislation, both Kerry-Boxer and Waxman-Markey, exactly the same language in both, this mandate goes into effect and would absolutely go into effect.

What does that mean? Well, the first thing it means is carbon credits, which everybody is so focused on, so many people and companies are fixated on, carbon credits will not matter if your project, if your economic activity takes any discretionary Federal permit because, beginning July 1, 2015, the President will be mandated, not authorized, not encouraged, nothing is suggested, he will be mandated to take any action possible to get us down to that limit. That would include denying all discretionary permit requests.

What else does it mean? It means, under that mandate in the law, you can bet that every leftwing environmental group in the world, much less in this country, will sue to block all economic activity that requires discretionary permits. Quite frankly, they will have a very compelling case. They will point to this legislative language, if it is enacted, and say: Time out. The President is not just authorized to do this, the President is not just encouraged to do this, the President is mandated to take every action he can, which clearly would include denying all discretionary permits to push that curve, that green curve, back down to 450 or as low as it can go.

So what does that mean? That means carbon credits are meaningless if you need a discretionary permit for certain economic activity or for any new economic project. This is a very important aspect of the bill. Again, it is in Kerry-Boxer. Exactly the same language is also in Waxman-Markey as it passed the full House of Representatives.

This gives an enormous mandate to the President of the United States to absolutely take action once those global greenhouse gas emissions get above 450. So my message is clear, particularly to the companies that have supported this legislation because they have been assured certain carbon credits.

The message is clear: Carbon credits will not matter if any of your activities, if any of your new projects or proposed projects requires any discretionary Federal permit. To deliver that message, crystal clear, to those companies, in particular, tomorrow I am writing to a significant leading handful of those companies that so far have supported the legislation, pointing out the enormous impact of those sections, 705 and 707, and asking them to focus very clearly on what it means to their projects, to their economic activity, to their bottom line because, again, carbon credits will not matter once this enormous mandate and authority of the President goes into effect.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The time is 12:35 p.m.

Mr. VITTER. I yield the floor.

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