Senate hearings on Kerry-Boxer Climate Bill begin

Climate Bill Hearing Begins in Senate

Climate Bill Hearing Begins in Senate

The Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works began hearings this morning on the Kerry-Boxer climate change bill named “The Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act.”

A summary of the bill is available here.

A team of Obama administration officials are testifying before the committee today. Below are transcripts of opening remarks made by Secretary of the Energy Steven Chu, and EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson.

Secretary of Energy Steven Chu

Chairman Boxer, Ranking Member Inhofe, Members of the Committee, thank you for the opportunity to testify today.

When I appeared before you in July, I focused on the energy challenge and the grave threat from climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found in 2007 that the best estimate for the rise in average global temperature by the end of this century would be more than 7 degrees Fahrenheit if we continued on a high growth, fossil fuel intensive course. A 2009 MIT study found a fifty percent chance of a 9 degree rise in this century and a 17 percent chance of a nearly 11 degree increase. Eleven degrees may not sound like much, but, during the last ice age, when Canada and much of the United States were covered all year in a glacier, the world was only about 11 degrees colder. A world 11 degrees warmer will be very different as well.

Today, I want to focus on the other half of the energy equation: the energy opportunity.

Sec. DOE Steven Chu testifying before Senate Com.

Sec. DOE Steven Chu testifying before Senate Com.

The world now realizes that its current level of greenhouse gas emissions is unsustainable. In the coming years, there will be a vigorous effort to limit carbon pollution that will require a massive deployment of clean energy technologies. The only question is – which countries will invent, manufacture, and export these clean technologies and which countries will become dependent on foreign products?

The Energy Information Administration – an independent statistical agency within the Department of Energy – recently estimated the market for a few key clean technologies. It based its analysis on a scenario derived by the International Energy Agency that could prevent the worst changes to our climate.

EIA found that, globally, the cumulative investment in wind turbines and solar photovoltaic panels from now through 2030 could be $2.1 trillion and $1.5 trillion, respectively. The policy decisions we make today will determine the U.S. share of this market. And many additional dollars, jobs and opportunities are at stake in other clean technologies.

China has already made its choice. China is spending about $9 billion a month on clean energy. It is also investing $44 billion by 2012 and $88 billion by 2020 in Ultra High Voltage transmission lines. These lines will allow China to transmit power from huge wind and solar farms far from its cities. While every country’s transmission needs are different, this is a clear sign of China’s commitment to developing renewable energy.

The United States, meanwhile, has fallen behind. The world’s largest turbine manufacturing company is headquartered in Denmark. 99 percent of the batteries that power America’s hybrid cars are made in Japan. We manufactured more than 40 percent of the world’s solar cells as recently as the mid 1990s; today, we produce just 7 percent.

When the starting gun sounded on the clean energy race, the United States stumbled. But I remain confident that we can make up the ground. When we gear up our research and production of clean energy technologies, we can still surpass any other country.

This work began in earnest with the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The Recovery Act includes $80 billion to put tens of thousands of Americans to work developing new battery technologies for hybrid vehicles, making our homes and businesses more energy efficient, doubling our capacity to generate renewable electricity, and modernizing the electric grid. In fact, today, President Obama will announce an investment of more than $3.4 billion in smart grid projects across the country. This is a major down payment on a more robust, more flexible electricity transmission and distribution system.

However, to truly seize this opportunity, we must enact comprehensive energy and climate legislation. I commend Chairmen Boxer and Kerry for bringing forward this legislation.

The most important element of this bill is that it puts a cap on carbon emissions that ratchets down over time. That critical step will drive investment decisions toward clean energy.

Imagine, for example, that you own a power company and are considering building more generating capacity. Building a new coal-fired power plant or a new nuclear plant is a serious, multi-billion dollar investment. And these investments could last at least 60 years. If you knew that carbon emissions had to decrease, would you build a coal plant without carbon capture and storage technology? Would the nuclear plant look more attractive? Would you consider investing in wind and solar?

On-again, off-again incentives will not drive the level of clean energy investment we need. A cap on carbon will give the energy industry the long-term direction and the certainty it needs to make appropriate technology and capital investment decisions.

To achieve our long-term goals in a cost-effective way, we will also need a sustained commitment to research and development. Only R & D can deliver a new generation of clean technologies.

Much of this work is underway at the Department of Energy using the resources provided in the Recovery Act. However, continued investment will be needed. S. 1733 would continue portions of this work, and the legislation reported by Chairman Bingaman’s committee would also bolster these efforts.

I applaud you for holding this hearing and look forward to working with this committee and the full Senate to swiftly pass comprehensive clean energy and climate change legislation. Thank you.

Statement by EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson

Chairman Boxer, Ranking Minority Member Inhofe, and members of the Committee, thank you for inviting me to testify about the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act.

I last appeared before this Committee on July 7. Since then, this Administration has, under President Obama’s leadership, taken unprecedented steps to decrease America’s dependence on oil, put our nation in the lead of the 21st Century energy economy, and reduce the greenhouse-gas pollution that threatens our children and grandchildren.

On September 15, for example, Secretary LaHood and I jointly announced coordinated Department of Transportation and Environmental Protection Agency rulemakings to increase the fuel efficiency and reduce the greenhouse-gas emissions of cars and light-duty trucks of model years 2012 through 2016. The rules will reduce the lifetime oil consumption of those vehicles by 1.8 billion barrels. That will mean eliminating more than a billion barrels of imported oil, assuming the current ratio of domestic production to imports does not improve. At today’s oil prices, we are talking about saving 78 billion dollars on buying oil from other countries. In the process, the rules will eliminate nearly a billion metric tons of greenhouse-gas pollution.

Each of my colleagues here can describe other steps that this Administration has already taken to make America’s economy stronger by getting it running on clean energy.

Even as the President and the members of his Cabinet move forward under existing authority, we continue urging Congress to pass a new clean-energy law. Only new legislation can bring about the comprehensive and integrated changes that are needed to restore America’s economic health and keep the nation secure over the long term.

This Committee held its July 7 hearing shortly after the House of Representatives passed the American Clean Energy and Security Act. So I took the opportunity to echo President Obama’s request that the Senate demonstrate the same commitment that we had seen in the House to building a clean-energy foundation for a strong American economy.

The introduction of the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act on September 30 shows that the Senate is responding to the President’s call to action. I commend you, Madame Chairman, and Senators Kerry and Kirk, for introducing that bill. I applaud the many other Senators, including members of this committee, who contributed meaningfully to the introduced legislation. And I thank Senator Graham for joining with Senator Kerry in a recent statement that reminds us all that giving America control over its own energy destiny can and should be a bi-partisan mission.

Earlier this year, EPA ran the major provisions of the House clean-energy legislation through several economic computer models. When it comes to the specifications that the models can detect, the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act is very similar to the House legislation. Nevertheless, EPA has examined the ways in which the Senate bill is different and determined which of the conclusions reached about the House-passed bill can confidently be said to apply to the Senate bill as well.

EPA delivered the result of that inquiry to the Committee last Friday, and the members can review the report in detail. But let me just state three of the projections about the House bill that EPA feels confident also apply to the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act.

First, the legislation would transform the American economy from one that is relatively energy inefficient and dependent on highly-polluting energy production to one that is highly energy efficient and powered by advanced, cleaner, and more domestically-sourced energy.

Second, the legislation would bring about that transformation at a cost of less than 50 cents per day per American household in 2020.

Third, the finding that regional cost differences would be small applies to the Senate bill just as it did to the House legislation.

The American people have waited decades while our nation has become increasingly dependent on foreign energy sources; while our global competitors create the clean energy jobs of tomorrow; and while we fail to safeguard the wellbeing our children and grandchildren.

I think Americans want reform that harnesses the country’s can-do spirit. I think they want to fuel long-term economic recovery with a wise investment that sparks a clean-energy transformation in our economy and that protects our children and grandchildren.

The Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act is a significant milestone on the road to that reform. There of course remains road ahead, and there are many Senators on and off this Committee who have tremendous value to add. Thank you for your continuing work, and for inviting me to testify today.

Committee Schedule

Other panels scheduled to testify before the committee are:

Hearing 2 — Wednesday, 9:30 a.m., Dirksen 406

Panel I: Jobs and Economic Opportunities

• Peter Brehm, vice president of business development and government relations, Infinia Corp.

• Dan Reicher, director of climate and energy initiatives, Google

• Dave Foster, executive director, Blue Green Alliance

• Michael Nutter, Philadelphia mayor

• Kate Gordon, senior policy adviser, Apollo Alliance

• Bill Klesse, chairman and CEO, Valero Energy Corp.

• Brett A. Vassey, president and CEO, Virginia Manufacturers Association

Panel II: National Security

• Retired Sen. John Warner, R-Va.

• Kathleen Hicks, Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for strategy, plans and forces, Defense Department

• Vice Admiral Dennis McGinn (Ret.), member of the Military Advisory Board, Center for Naval Analyses

• Maj. Gen. Robert H. Scales (Ret.)

• Drew Sloan, fellow at the Truman National Security Project

• Lt. Col. James Jay Carafano (Ret.), deputy director, Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies, and director, Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies, both at the Heritage Foundation

Panel III: Utilities

• David Crane, president and CEO, NRG Energy

• Ralph Izzo, chairman, CEO and president of Public Service Enterprise Group

• Kevin Law, president and CEO, Long Island Power Authority

• Nathaniel Keohane, director of economic policy and analysis, Environmental Defense Fund

• Joel Bluestein, president of Energy and Environmental Analysis at ICF International

• Barry Hart, CEO of the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives

• Dustin Johnson, commissioner, South Dakota Public Utilities Commission

Panel IV: Adaptation

• Shari Wilson, Secretary, Maryland Environment Department

• Ronald E. Young, president, California Association of Sanitation Agencies

• Peter C. Frumhoff, chief scientist, Climate Campaign, Union of Concerned Scientists

• Larry J. Schweiger, president and CEO, National Wildlife Federation

• Fawn Sharp, president, Quinault Indian Nation

• Jim Sims, president and CEO, Western Business Roundtable

• Kenneth P. Green, resident scholar, American Enterprise Institute

Hearing 3 — Thursday, 9:30 a.m., Dirksen 406

• Panel I: Moving to a Clean Energy Economy

• Preston Chiaro, CEO, Energy Product Group, Rio Tinto

• John Rowe, chairman, president and CEO, Exelon Corp.

• Willett Kempton, marine policy professor, University of Delaware

• Bob Winger, president, International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Local 11

• Fred Krupp, president, Environmental Defense Fund

• Mike Carey, president, Ohio Coal Association

• Bob Stallman, president, American Farm Bureau Federation

Panel II: Transportation

• Sherwood Boehlert, co-chair, Bipartisan Policy Center’s National Transportation Policy Project

• William Millar, president, American Public Transportation Association

• Mike McKeever, executive director, Sacramento Area Council of Governments

• Barbara J. Windsor, president and CEO, Hahn Transportation

Panel III: Actions in Other Countries

• John Podesta, president and CEO, Center for American Progress

• Ned Helme, president, Center for Clean Air Policy

• Jonathan Lash, president, World Resources Institute

• Iain Murray, director of projects and analysis, Competitive Enterprise Institute

Panel IV: Moving to a Clean Energy Economy

• Linda Adams, Secretary, California EPA

• Dave Johnson, director, Laborers’ Eastern Region Organizing Fund, Laborers’ International Union of North America

• J. Stephan Dolezalek, managing director, VantagePoint Venture Partners

• David Hawkins, director, Climate Center, Natural Resources Defense Council

• Eugene Trisko, attorney on behalf of the United Mine Workers of America

• Charlie Smith, president and CEO, CountryMark

• Paul Cicio, president, Industrial Energy Consumers of America

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