GOP Senators criticize Obama climate policies ahead of hearing

An argument has broken out, ahead of a July 18 hearing on climate change by the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, about whether federal witnesses should testify on what the government is already doing in the name of fighting climate change.

Sen. David Vitter, R-La., top Republican on the committee, was joined by fellow EPW Republicans in sending a July 10 letter to Chairman Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., asking her to reconsider a decision to exclude government witnesses in the upcoming hearing “Climate Change: It’s Happening Now.”

The committee website, as of July 12, didn’t have a list of hearing witnesses. There had also been no competing statement issued as of that point by Boxer.

“The American people should not be kept in the dark regarding the scope of the actions this Administration is taking under the guise of controlling our climate – actions that have the potential to negatively impact employment, job creation, and our national debt,” wrote the senators. “An Administration taking such sweeping actions on climate change should be ready to defend those actions before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. We are certain the President would accommodate a request to have his Administration officials represent what he so proudly touts as being good for America.”

The July 18 hearing follows closely on the heels of President Obama’s recent announcement of a “Climate Action Plan” that commits to a “coordinated assault on a changing climate.”

Said the July 10 GOP letter: “The potential of these government actions to exacerbate the serious economic problems that currently persist justifies asking a panel of federal witnesses, charged with implementing the President’s agenda, to testify as to the scope, purpose, and consequences of such unilateral action. Today, only 47% of Americans have a full time job, the workforce participation rate is at its lowest level since the Carter Administration, and the national unemployment rate has exceeded 7.5% for the longest period since the Bureau of Labor Statistics started tracking the national unemployment rate. By the time President Obama leaves office, the federal debt will likely exceed $20 trillion, further frustrating America’s future.”

These actions to combat climate change are being taken without China, India, and Russia – some of the world’s largest carbon emitters – placing similar constraints on their economies, the letter added. “European nations continue to reconsider their own climate policies as their economies continue to suffer, interest in an international agreement further wanes, global warming continues to poll as one of the issues of least concern to our fellow Americans, and global temperatures continue to fail to meet the climate model predictions of the last thirty years,” the GOP added.

Recent federal actions in this area include:

  • The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has, without providing for public comment or peer review, adjusted upwards the Social Cost of Carbon (SCC) to modify the accounting for benefits claims from regulatory actions. “Regulation of greenhouse gases from new and existing sources is set to cripple numerous large scale manufacturing and energy projects across the nation, creating an environment in which foreign countries will become far more attractive for future investment, potentially undermining our economy,” the GOP said.
  • For more than nine months, the Treasury Department “stonewalled” multiple transparency requests regarding internal work on the development of a carbon tax, as well as the sources of funding for international climate commitments that were negotiated behind closed doors, the letter said.
  • The Department of Interior continues to cut off access to minerals and other natural resources for energy development. It also is crafting multiple new layers of federal designations and bureaucracy certain to continue the decline in energy production on federal lands, said the GOP.
  • The Department of Energy’s (DOE) “green” energy grant programs have been a disaster, they said. While the stimulus funds that went to now-bankrupt Solyndra received the most public notoriety, total federal stimulus spending is costing $11.25m for every permanent “green” job, and the DOE Inspector General has on more than one occasion found problems with efficiency and other federal grant programs, the GOP said.
About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.