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Camp Opening Statement: Hearing on Scientific Objectives for Climate Change Legislation

February 25, 2009

FEBRUARY 25, 2009

Thank you for yielding, Mr. Chairman.

Before we get into the substance of this hearing, I would be remiss not to thank the Chairman for exerting our jurisdiction over this issue.  As Dr. Hansen, a witness for the majority, notes in his written testimony, “Tax and Trade is pseudonymously and sometimes disingenuously termed Cap and Trade.”  Dr. Hansen, I’m not sure I could have better stated the fact that any so-called cap-and-trade measure is a revenue measure that should originate in the House, and more specifically, in this committee.

The question of this hearing is: what are the scientific objectives for climate change legislation?  I’d like to take a step farther back and ask: What is the science of climate change? What can it definitively tell us? Can it say who is responsible for it? Can it tell us what impact we can have on it, and if we can, what are the results—both positive and negative?

From what I have read, there remains a great deal of uncertainty with regard to the scientific evidence about climate change.  However, where you can find virtual unanimity is that in acting alone, we can do very little – if anything – to reduce global greenhouse gasses.  Unless large emitters like China and India agree to binding reductions in their emissions, there will be no benefit, yet significant job losses, here in the U.S.

Let me repeat that: unilateral action by the United States won’t reduce global greenhouse gas emissions but it will reduce U.S. economic growth and destroy millions of American jobs – especially in the manufacturing sector, which is the backbone of our economy and critical to the long-term viability of my home state of Michigan.

That is because, at its core, any tax and trade scheme is designed to increase the cost of energy—energy that fuels our cars, lights our homes, powers our assembly lines, and ensures an affordable food supply.

Even if we ask the American worker to make this economic sacrifice, there are no guarantees China and India will follow suit.  In fact, the Chinese and Indians have made it very clear that they will not agree to any reductions in emissions but instead expect millions of dollars in U.S. aid and technology. 

When asked about capping China’s greenhouse gas emissions, Ma Kai, head of the country’s National Development and Reform Commission said:  “Our general stance is that China will not commit to any quantified emissions reduction targets.”

Similarly, Shyam Saran, India’s principal negotiator on climate change, when asked about his country’s interest in capping its greenhouse gas emissions, said: “Industrialized countries should meet their own commitments in the fight against climate change rather than asking countries like India and China to cap greenhouse gas emissions, we don’t want to announce targets which we have no intention of achieving.”

Many of you have heard the Chairman and I discuss the need to work in a bipartisan fashion on this committee.  So, before I yield back, let me offer this bipartisan piece of advice: before any Member votes to eliminate millions of American jobs, let’s find out if an economy-choking “solution” will actually provide any measurable benefit. 

I expect all of our witnesses today will caution that the U.S., acting alone, cannot make a bit of difference in actually changing the climate. 

With that, I yield back the balance of my time. 

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.