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Domestic Energy

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. GOODLATTE. Well, I thank the gentleman from Illinois for holding this Special Order to talk about the cap-and-tax proposal that has been offered by Chairman Waxman of the Energy and Commerce Committee and subcommittee Chairman Markey of the subcommittee dealing with energy on that committee. And it concerns me greatly as it should concern all Americans.

When you look at the sources of energy that we have in our country today, this legislation is going to drive up energy costs for the average American. It is going to drive up the costs of a whole lot of other things than simply their electric bills and the cost of other energy they receive. It is also going to drive up the cost of virtually every good that they receive and a lot of services that they receive as well. It concerns me greatly.

I have served as the ranking member and previously the chairman of the Agriculture Committee. Today I serve as the ranking member on the subcommittee of the Agriculture Committee that deals with energy. And quite frankly, it is a situation where this is a solution in search of a problem. And quite frankly, the solution is going to create great problems for the American people.

What we really need to have in this country in this time of very severe economic turmoil when people are losing their jobs and the economy is suffering is we need to be looking at producing more domestic sources of energy of all kinds. And yet this legislation is going to discourage the production of most of the principal sources of energy that we utilize in our country today, including coal production and nuclear power.

The gentleman may correct me if I'm wrong, but my understanding is that nuclear power, which is completely CO

2 gas emission-free, is going to not receive any credit for the availability of electricity that is produced from this source which today produces about 20 percent of all of our electricity in the country. And it seems to me that if you're truly dedicated to solving our problems of energy sources, you would want to be encouraging increased production of all different sorts of energy.

Now nuclear power is very capital intensive. But once you have a new nuclear power plant, it is the cheapest source of electric generation that exists in the country, even far cheaper than coal as a source of energy. And yet the fact that it is CO

2-free doesn't seem to make any difference, because there are those in the environmental community who are very hostile to nuclear power production, even though we have--and countries like France which now produces more than 75 percent of its electricity from nuclear power--have addressed in new and innovative ways the waste disposal issue and other safety issues that make nuclear power very, very attractive.

And then when it comes to coal, do you know that more than half of our electricity in this country is generated by coal? It is a very, very important source of energy. And yet it is treated like the lost step-child in this legislation because no effort is really made here to help coal address the serious concerns that have been raised by some about the amount of CO2 that is emitted from coal production. That to me does not make any sense. We are the Saudi Arabia of the world in terms of coal production. We have more coal reserves than any other country in the world. And we have tremendous capabilities in terms of long-term ability to generate cheap, low-cost power.

Mr. SHIMKUS. Would the gentleman yield on coal just for a second? I think this is an important issue, of course, for me. But a couple of recent occurrences highlight the fact that this bill really is an assault on coal. And however they try to clean it up, it is not working. Yesterday in the local paper, what did Speaker Pelosi do? She said the coal-fire power plant here in the Capitol is now switching to natural gas, that coal is gone. At a news conference briefing held last week at the United States Energy Association, FERC Chairman Wellinghoff told reporters that nuclear and coal power was too expensive. He estimated the cost of building a nuclear plant at about $7,000 per kilowatt and discouraged investors from undertaking such ventures.

So the signals are no nuclear and no coal.

Mr. GOODLATTE. So what are they going to replace it with?

Mr. SHIMKUS. They don't like coal. They don't like hydro. But don't like nuclear. But they like electricity.

Mr. GOODLATTE. They like electricity? I like electricity. You like electricity. But you have to produce it with something.

Mr. SHIMKUS. Here is the President's comments.

Mr. GOODLATTE. Seventy-five percent of our electricity--people who are paying attention to this issue should know that 75 percent of the electricity produced in our country today is produced from coal and nuclear.

Mr. SHIMKUS. And here is the President's statement during the campaign: ``What I have said is that we would put a cap-and-trade system in place that is as aggressive, if not more aggressive, than anybody else's out there. So if somebody wants to build a coal-fired power plant, they can. It is just that it will bankrupt them because they are going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that is being emitted.''

So the signals are ``no'' in a venue when the demand for electricity is going to go up by 30 percent. But we want to limit the ability to produce electricity which is why we fear the real price escalations.

I just want to tie this in with the leadership of this House in Washington and down at the White House and through the Federal agencies. They are saying ``no'' to coal and ``no'' to nuclear when we have all these challenges that face us.

Mr. GOODLATTE. And they have no good answer in terms of what to replace it with. Wind power and solar, two that are very commonly cited, produce just a tiny percentage of the electricity in our country today. I think wind power and solar are great and they have great potential and we should encourage more of them, but there is no way that they are going to replace our traditional sources of generating electricity any time in the near future.

So the natural result is going to be that if you write legislation that heavily penalizes other sources of energy, particularly coal, what you are going to have as a result is much higher energy costs. And it will affect people all across the country in very dramatic ways, and they will see it when they open their bill for their electricity. But they are also going to see it in ways that may surprise them in terms of the cost of goods and services and in terms of their very livelihood because many jobs will go outside of the country to other countries like Russia and China and India that have no intention of complying with the same type of a cap-and-tax system that is being proposed right here in this Congress. Therefore, they are going to have cheaper sources of energy.

China and India, right now, are building one new coal-fired power plant a week. Are they going to comply with cap-and-tax? Are they going to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions? No, they are going to dramatically increase those greenhouse gas emissions, and the end result is they will produce electricity cheaper. Therefore, they will be able to produce goods cheaper in those countries. They will be a magnet to draw jobs to those countries, to become manufacturing bases, as they are already growing to be. It is just going to get worse.

Even though China has grown so much in terms of its manufacturing in
recent years, the United States is still the world's largest manufacturing country. We are going to lose that when this bill takes effect if we don't get the American people to speak out about it and let the Members of Congress know that this kind of damaging legislation will cost jobs and raise the cost of living in this country if it is not brought to a halt.

Every source of energy that we have, whether it is coal or nuclear power or oil or natural gas or solar or wind power or geothermal or renewable biofuels, all of them have environmental issues attached to them. You can't name a one that doesn't.

Wind power has all kinds of environmental issues attached to it. People have attempted to build wind power facilities in my district and have gotten great push back on the effect about birds and bats and noise.

Solar generating facilities that have been proposed for the southwest of this country have had lawsuits brought against them to prevent them from building these solar facilities because of the impact it will have on desert vegetation and desert wildlife and so on.

Ethanol and other renewable fuels have environmental opponents to them as well.

So it seems to me that the all-of-the-above approach of the Republican Conference, of promoting the development of new sources of energy, of promoting energy conservation and efficiency, and of promoting the development of all of our sources of energy, including our traditional sources, and producing them domestically to reduce our foreign trade deficit problems and to create more jobs in this country is the way to go here. That ought to be the alternative that this Congress turns to instead of a cap-and-tax government planning scheme that stifles private sector innovation, that causes higher consumer energy prices and causes job losses and lower wages and stock devaluation.

Its potential for abuse and corruption is great. It is a windfall for certain people who didn't do anything to deserve the benefits that they will get when they suddenly find that they have something to sell or trade under this system. And it is not likely to actually reduce any emissions significantly.

This idea that somehow we can reduce greenhouse gas emissions to the extent that we can turn down the thermostat of the world when other countries are going to increase their CO2 emissions around the world is folly. That is what this legislation is, and it has no guarantee that it will solve the global warming issue that many have focused on. Instead, we do have a guarantee that it will have a devastating impact on our economy.


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