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Public Statements

Climate Security

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

CLIMATE SECURITY -- (Senate - June 04, 2008)


Mr. CHAMBLISS. Mr. President, I first of all commend my colleague from Alabama, and I associate myself with his remarks because he is dead on target.

I also rise today to discuss the Climate Security Act that is before the Senate. First, I thank all of our colleagues who have been responsible for bringing this bill to the floor because we need to debate this issue. It is a critical issue that is important to all Americans, not only this generation but future generations. I have two grandchildren, and I want to make sure we leave our grandchildren an America better than we inherited it. So it is a critically important debate.

The Climate Security Act will require the transformation of the U.S. economy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in an attempt to lower the average world temperature in 2050 and beyond. I note, however, that in a study done by the University of Georgia, released last year, it was determined that over the past 100 years the actual temperature in America had been reduced by 1 degree, not raised any at all but actually reduced.

It is estimated the Climate Security Act will generate increased revenues of $6.7 trillion using allowances and auctions. A large portion is given directly to various Federal and State programs outside of the normal budget and appropriations process. However, this amount of revenue must come from somewhere, and unfortunately, under this bill, it is going to come from you, me, and from American individuals and families who will pay higher costs for the energy we use to live.

Economic models have overwhelmingly shown this bill will affect consumers directly through higher gasoline and electricity prices, resulting in lower household incomes and millions of jobs being lost in America. Moreover, the national economy will be harmed as gross domestic product is expected to drop considerably over the next 40 years, should this bill be enacted.

We also know this bill will constrain the supply and significantly raise the cost of transportation fuel. Like many of my colleagues, I spent the Memorial Day recess traveling around my home State. The average price of a gallon of diesel was $4.77 per gallon, and regular gasoline averaged $3.98 per gallon. These are the highest prices ever recorded in my home State of Georgia, and this is my constituents' No. 1 issue.

So it troubles me, as we are seeing almost $4 per gallon gasoline in my home State, that some in this body want to enact legislation that would further increase the price of a gallon of gas. I hear from hundreds of Georgians every day who are struggling to fill their tanks to get to work or to take their kids to school or to run their necessary errands.

I will be honest, I don't know how the average American, the average Georgian in particular, is coping with this issue--with the rapid increase in the price of a gallon of gas.

EPA models show that the gasoline prices will rise by a minimum of 53 cents per gallon if this bill were implemented. Why would we do that to the American people, who are already hurting at the pump?

Regrettably, the legislation before this body would do nothing to increase our domestic supply of oil and help alleviate the lack of supply of gas that is driving the prices up.

Instead, this bill will only keep prices rising. The Energy Information Agency study predicts that gasoline prices will increase anywhere from 41 cents per gallon to $1 per gallon by 2030 due to this legislation. Some estimates have gasoline prices rising by as much as 145 percent in my home State of Georgia. This is unacceptable to the people of my State and unacceptable to the people of this country.

Nobody disputes the fact that the United States is dependent on foreign sources of oil.

We currently import 60 percent of our oil--actually a little greater than 60 percent--and nobody disputes that this problem has been in the making for decades. Over the past 30 years, the United States has reduced our domestic exploration options and left our refining capacity stagnant.

The rising cost of fuel requires a multi-pronged strategy to respond. That is why we must take commonsense action and increase our domestic supply of oil by exploring where we know there are resources available and encouraging the development of alternative fuels, such as cellulosic ethanol, to decrease our reliance on foreign oil.

We must find both short-term and long-term solutions to provide energy security for our Nation and give relief to Americans.

This bill will attack citizens at the pump and increase their electricity costs, thus exacerbating job losses to overseas markets.

Higher energy costs to businesses and the necessity to invest in expensive low carbon technologies will force companies to raise the prices of their products, opening the market up to low-cost international competition, or move businesses to China or Mexico, where environmental regulations are lacking. Millions more jobs will be lost in America as a result. One study estimates that between 1.1 and 1.8 million jobs will be lost by 2020 as U.S. companies close or move overseas. Another study shows that up to 4 million jobs will be lost by 2030 inside the United States if this legislation becomes law. It has been estimated that in Georgia alone we may lose as many as 155,400 jobs, should this legislation be enacted.

Manufacturing jobs will be one of the hardest hit sectors as the Energy Information Administration projects that manufacturing output will decline by up to 9.5 percent in 2030. This country has already lost 19 percent of its manufacturing jobs since 2000. This legislation will only help push those jobs outside of our borders.

The cost to American families will be too much for many to bear. An EPA study estimates that the cost per household in Georgia will be as much as $608 in 2020, and nearly $4,400 per year in 2050. The median household income in Georgia is $64,000. CRA International states that the average increased cost to families is $1,740 per family in 2020.

Workers keeping their jobs would be subject to much lower wages, due to increased competition and increased costs. Even with lower incomes, families would be expected to pay more to heat their homes and fill up their cars. The Environmental Protection Agency has stated that electricity prices will increase an additional 44 percent by 2030. In Georgia, the estimated cost will be 135 percent higher if this legislation is enacted.

This will be devastating to families across the country.

According to Housing and Urban Development, poor families spend almost five times as much of their monthly budget in meeting their energy needs--19 percent--as wealthier Americans, who spend approximately 4 percent.

Increases in energy prices due to carbon limits would hit the poor five times harder, which certainly will be unsustainable. This bill, by some estimates, will hit the average Georgia household in an amount equal to $7,231.

The effects this legislation will have on consumers is outrageous: higher gasoline prices, higher electricity prices, lower household incomes, and job losses.

In closing, let me touch on some specific aspects of the bill. While the bill includes a market-based cap-and-trade system----

The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. NELSON of Nebraska). The Senator has 1 minute remaining.

Mr. CHAMBLISS. I believe this bill could be more fair and equitable. We also should work to make it more predictable for businesses and understandable to taxpayers and consumers. One of the greatest challenges to any climate bill will be to ensure that it does not stymie economic growth and protects American jobs. We need to continue to seek the best way to generate the greatest benefits for the lowest cost. We cannot burden our children and our grandchildren with increased energy costs.

A climate bill must be flexible to adjust to changing science, economic conditions, and the actions of other countries. The Climate Security Act attempts to encourage other countries to reduce emissions, but does not appear to be flexible enough to ensure Americans are not disadvantaged because of the inaction of other nations.

The details of the Climate Security Act will greatly affect every American and are extremely important. Have no doubt about it, a vote for cloture on this bill is a vote to increase gas prices by a minimum of 53 cents per gallon.

I yield the floor.


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