WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Pete Domenici, ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, today delivered the following opening statement at the energy forum focusing on clean energy independence:
“I want to thank Senator Alexander for hosting this forum and Senator Corker for chairing it. The State of Tennessee is fortunate to have you as leaders on these important issues.
I believe that one of the great challenges of this generation will be to strengthen our energy security by providing affordable, reliable, American energy while also addressing global climate change. This year, I have introduced legislation that seeks to address both of these issues—the American Energy Production Act of 2008, and the Clean Energy Investment Bank.
If enacted, the American Energy Production Act of 2008 would bring billions of barrels of oil and trillions of cubic feet of natural gas to the marketplace. Passing this would send a message to the markets and would help provide relief for American family budgets.
I have also proposed establishing a Clean Energy Investment Bank that would have the ability to provide loans, issue loan guarantees and provide other financial services that would help develop clean energy sources. I believe that this is exactly the type of true market based approach that we should have toward reducing carbon emissions and I am considering offering this legislation as an amendment to the Boxer climate change bill.
Over the past several years, Congress has already stepped in to help develop renewable energy resources through tax credits. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 contained some of the most important provisions to spur growth of renewable technologies we’ve ever passed. Earlier this year, I was part of a group that tried to extend renewable energy tax credits by adding them to the Economic Stimulus package, and eventually we were able to pass these vital extensions in the Senate as part of a different bill.
Unfortunately, though, partisan politics is getting in the way of getting these tax credits extended. For as long as we’ve been working on this, Congress has realized that tax credits for renewable energy pay for themselves by reducing our dependence on foreign oil and by creating jobs. I know first-hand the impact from the growth of the solar and wind industries in New Mexico. But now, all of a sudden, Democrats have decided that we shouldn’t extend these tax credits unless they are “paid for.” The problem is that in this atmosphere, it is very difficult to find ways to do this that everyone can agree on—and “paid for” has become another way of saying “raising taxes.”
I think that Democrats, particularly in the House, should quit playing politics with renewable energy tax credits. These tax credits stand on their own, and provide real, tangible benefits to our economy. We should not be forced to raise taxes in other areas just to extend them. The American people should be absolutely clear that it is not Republicans who are preventing us from moving forward.
Today, the Senate begins debate on a bill that will raise taxes higher and create more regulations than any we’ve ever considered. The costs of that legislation will be discussed by many throughout this week, so I won’t detail them now, but I do want to say that this bill intends to redistribute an enormous tax with unfathomable repercussions to our economy.
Aside from the costs of the bill, we must also consider whether or not it will even work. Based on what I have seen, there is very little evidence that it will. We already know that Europe has implemented a similar scheme—and it has not worked. And according to the Environmental Protection Agency, the Lieberman-Warner bill will reduce global greenhouse gas concentrations by just one over percent by 2050 without additional international action.
EPA projects that global greenhouse gas concentrations would be reduced from 507 parts per million (ppm) to 500 parts per million – a reduction of just 1.3 percent, far less than the level needed to mitigate the effects of global climate change. Each Senator should conduct a careful cost-benefit analysis of this bill. Will the enormous tax actually help us address climate change? The answer, I believe, is no. Unfortunately, the text of the bill we will be discussing has not gone through a committee process, or even had a hearing. It is hard to fathom, but Congress is now debating a bill that will cost trillions of dollars without having so much as a hearing on it!
While it’s clear to me that the Boxer approach is not the right one on climate change, I think its very important that we continue to explore the right approaches. For that reason, I thank Senator Alexander for holding this forum on clean energy. This body needs much more thoughtful and thorough deliberation if we are going to really address the challenges on energy security and global climate change in a meaningful way.”