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Public Statements

Energy Policy Act of 2005

Location: Washington, DC



Mr. DeWINE. Mr. President, I come to the floor today to talk about the amendment offered by Senator McCain and Senator Lieberman. Climate change is happening. There is simply no question about that. It is time the United States takes the lead in slowing its progress and in decreasing greenhouse gas emissions. The amendment before us now, while it certainly has a great deal of merit, is, I am afraid, drafted in a way that I cannot support at this time.

First, the amendment, if adopted as currently written, sets an unreasonable schedule. Simply put, the energy sector would be unable to adjust quickly enough to adopt new technologies and new operating procedures in the limited time mandated by the amendment. When you are talking about energy, you cannot just change and pivot on a dime. It takes time to build infrastructure and capacity. As of today, the technology for capturing carbon is simply not ready yet. In essence, we have designed an engine that is not quite able to run yet.

Second, the amendment uses the year 2000 as a baseline. This concerns me. It concerns me because the fact is that some companies' emissions were at an artificially low point in the year 2000, due to the recession and other economic fluctuations. A sound carbon control system has to be fair. If we provide no flexibility to that standard, some companies would bear a higher burden than other companies with emissions at a normal rate at that time.

Third, the amendment does not provide a big enough upfront Federal investment into scientific research and development. We have to invest substantially more Federal dollars into the development of the technologies we need to reduce the greenhouse gases causing global warming. For instance, we need to dramatically increase funding for the Clean Coal Power Initiative. In the year 2005, we only funded this program at 25 percent of its authorized level. That must change.

We must be bold. We need to be imaginative. We need to be visionary. This is truly a race, and we are not moving forward fast enough. Realistically, greater investments are not going to be made until we, as a Nation, pull our heads out of the sand and accept the reality that climate change is in fact occurring. In 1997, when the Senate debated the issue the last time, the science wasn't as good. Today, however, we know a lot more, and the science is unambiguously clear. Since 1997, we have had the 5 hottest years on record, and there is now a clear consensus that temperatures have risen globally at least 1 degree Fahrenheit over the last 100 years.

Since 1997, the National Academy of Sciences, the Nation's most prestigious, most credible and most vigorous voice for the scientific community has said that:

Temperatures are in fact rising [and that] national policy decisions made now in the long term future will influence the extent of any damage suffered by vulnerable human populations and ecosystems.

Almost daily we hear reports from the field of natural indicators of climate change.

For example, glaciers are melting. Dr. Lonnie Thompson, distinguished professor of geological sciences at the Ohio State University, is an expert on the study of glaciers. All of his work points to one conclusion:

Every glacier we have any data on is retreating ..... Our best evidence for the current loss of tropical glaciers is mainly due to rising temperatures, and those temperatures are higher in many areas than they have been for more than 5,000 years, with the major increase occurring in the past 50 years. Glaciers operate on thresholds and as such are extremely sensitive to global climate change.

Other national indicators strongly suggest the Earth is warming. The sea ice in the Arctic and Antarctic is declining. Coral reefs are disintegrating. Snow cover is decreasing. The oceans are getting warmer, and extreme weather events are occurring with increased frequency.

As the world's biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, the United States has an obligation to take the lead in efforts to control climate change. We have an obligation to be an engaged global player. We have an obligation to urge other nations to join efforts to lower emissions. It is time for our Nation to get into the driver's seat and take the lead in developing the technology and the alternate energy sources that will become an inevitable part of our economy.

Right now, we are falling behind. Japan and Europe are well on their way to developing the very technologies that will be necessary to retrofit our powerplants and make our cars environmentally friendly. We should be the ones developing that technology. We should be the ones designing and creating and inventing the tools we need to adapt and adjust to their future.

Let me repeat: Climate change is happening and a shift to a new global energy economy is also happening. We cannot avoid it. It is inevitable. Without question, we are going to have to change operations and clean up our powerplants and find alternatives to oil and gasoline. Do we want to be the buyers of the technology that gets us there or, rather, do we want to be the sellers?

This much is obvious: If we do not do something, in a few years we will be creating jobs, but they won't be in the United States. They will be in other countries. They will be in Europe; they will be in Japan; they will be other places. That is not the way to go. We will have ourselves to blame and no one else.

I am pleased to say my home State of Ohio is beginning to position itself to face the future and is already involved in efforts to successfully transition to the new energy economy. Ohio has the opportunity to deploy, and in some cases develop, the very technology our own State needs so we can continue to burn coal in our powerplants but with dramatically lower emissions of nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide, and mercury.

There is a process called integrated gasification combined cycle, IGCC, which will allow coal, including high- sulfur Ohio coal, to be burned more cleanly. The IGCC process immediately reduces the emission of nitrogen oxide. It also makes it possible, for the first time, to capture carbon before it is emitted into the atmosphere.

This is the kind of technology that can put Ohio at the top. As James Rogers, chief executive of the Cincinnati-based Cinergy Corporation, said:

I'm making a bet on gasification. I don't see any other way forward.

Similarly, Jason Grumet, the executive director of the National Commission on Energy Policy, called the IGCC process ``as close to a silver bullet as we are ever going to see.''

Currently, there are only IGCC pilot plants operated in Florida and Indiana. However, American Electric Power, AEP, in Columbus and Cinergy Corporation are on track to build additional plants in Ohio and Indiana, respectively. AEP plans to build a $1.6 billion clean coal plant along the Ohio River in Meigs County.

Ohio also can lead the way in commercialization of fuel cell technology which produces electricity by combining hydrogen and oxygen. Cars are one of the biggest emitters, of course, of carbon. Fuel cells have the potential of providing a carbon-free fuel source for vehicles. Ohio is ideally suited to develop this technology and, at the same time, help begin again its leadership in automotive technology.

I applaud Ohio Governor Bob Taft for his new plan to invest significant funds in fuel cells. He has announced a 3-year extension of the Ohio fuel cell initiative which is a $103 million program aimed at making Ohio the leader in fuel cell technology. Over the last 3 years, already the State has awarded $36 million in grants to 24 future cell projects involving academic researchers and small companies. Indeed, Roger McKain, chairman of the Ohio Fuel Cell Coalition, was correct when he said:

If you want to be in fuel cells, you should be in Ohio.

Use of clean renewable sources of energy is another way to help slow climate change. As we all know, solar power is one of the most commonly recognized renewable sources. Ohio has several companies that are developing technologies to lead to widespread commercialization of renewables. For example, First Solar in Perrysburg, OH, is a leader in the development and manufacture of solar collection systems. And Parker Hannifin, headquartered in Cleveland, is developing a hydraulic drive system that can precisely position solar collectors used in a powerplant, thereby increasing their efficiency.

I encourage the State of Ohio to do all it can to become a leader in energy technology. We are on our way, but we need to do more. It could help decide the future, quite candidly, of our great State.

In closing, climate change is here. We have to face that fact. And we have to address it. We have to do it in a practical, workable, intelligent way. I look forward to working with my friends Senator McCain and Senator Lieberman in the months ahead to craft a bill that will, in fact, work; a bill that will work for Ohio, a bill that will work for the United States, and a bill that will put the United States out front as a leader on global climate change in dealing with this problem.

I am confident we can, in fact, draft a bill that will own up to our obligations to our children and our grandchildren and, at the same time, will have dates that are practical so the emerging technologies will be ready to meet the needs of the energy sector--technologies that will allow us, for example, to expand the use of Ohio coal, something we have in Ohio in abundance, and we have in this country in abundance. We can also craft a bill that will frontload more money in research and development and a bill that will use a baseline date that does not unfairly penalize certain regions of the country.

I am confident we can work together to produce such a bill. We can do these things. If we do, the United States will have done the right thing. We will begin to make demonstrable progress in slowing the rate of climate change and in protecting our environment. History is on our side. History is on the side of passing a bill similar to this bill. It is imperative we get it right. It is imperative we do it right.

I thank Senator McCain and Senator Lieberman for their courage, for their vision and their leadership in taking up once again this tough issue. We must finish the task. I look forward to working with them to do the right thing for Ohio, but, more importantly, to do the right thing for our country and for the world, for our children, and for our grandchildren.

I yield the floor.

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