Friday, July 17, 2009

Parties At Odds On Climate Legislation Competitiveness Impacts

Jul 16: The Senate Environment and Pubic Works (EPW) Committee, Chaired by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) held another in a continuing series of meetings on various aspect of climate change legislation. The hearing was entitled, “Ensuring and Enhancing U.S. Competitiveness While Moving Toward A Clean Energy Economy.” Witnesses testifying included representatives from: Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB); GE Energy Infrastructure; the Center for American Progress Action Fund; and the National Black Chamber of Commerce.

In an opening statement, Chairman Boxer said, "we must ensure that our existing industries receive fair treatment as we transition to a clean energy economy. We need to make sure that our industries that require a lot of energy operate on a level playing field with manufacturers in other countries of the world. The legislation recently passed in the House contains several provisions to assist industries that are energy intensive and that are subject to international competition, and we are carefully reviewing these provisions as we develop our bill here in the Senate. . . Other countries, especially China and Germany, are already building their clean energy industries. I believe that when we pass strong clean energy legislation that cuts our dependence on foreign oil and protects our children from pollution, we will also provide the impetus that will restore American leadership in the world economy."

Ranking Member James Inhofe (R-OK) said the climate change legislation is based on ". . .faulty logic, which goes as follows: if government imposes taxes and mandates, increases bureaucracy, and spends without restraint, then government can transform the economy and create jobs. This is the faulty logic of cap-and-trade, designed to hide what cap-and-trade truly is -- a massive new tax on American families -- and what it would do -- destroy jobs here at home and send them to China and India. . . In total, Waxman-Markey would cause a net reduction of 2.3 million to 2.7 million jobs. Again, that’s a net reduction, including green jobs. . . This bill hands out pink slips to workers and then promises the unemployed that they will get assistance from the government. Message to the Waxman-Markey unemployed: don’t hold your breath. If this bill actually created jobs, then there would be no need for any of this. . ."

KPCB, a venture capital firm that has launched over 500 companies including Amazon, Google and AOL, testified urging the legislators to "put a price on carbon and a cap on carbon emissions." The company said, "Think of Copenhagen as an opportunity to create world markets and momentum for a low-carbon future, just as the internet set the world on information-rich future. Some say we shouldn't move until China moves. In fact, China is moving full speed ahead -- with or without us. Senators, there is still time for us to get into this global race. But we need low-carbon policies to exploit America’s strengths -- innovation and entrepreneurs. I know that building such a policy is a heavy political lift. But I can tell you, without doubt, that bad energy policy has cost our country dearly, and the costs of continuing it are incalculable."

The National Black Chamber of Commerce (NBCC) testified that it was concerned about its 95,000 business members of and that any legislation Congress enacts must consider the impact that costs will have on small and minority-owned businesses. NBCC said the House Waxman-Markey bill (H.R. 2454) "will negatively impact the most vulnerable of our society. . . the bill doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do, and it does so at a very high cost -- especially high for working families and small business owners." NBCC used the same CRA International analysis that Senator Inhofe cited and said that, "Green jobs gained would be swamped by jobs lost in old industries and businesses, leading to a net loss of 2.3 million to 2.7 million jobs." Countering the testimony of KPCB, NBCC said the, "House bill would limit our ability to compete internationally. Our study found that there is no environmental impact to justify this loss of income and siphoning away our nation’s wealth as long as developing nations such as China and India aren’t part of the program. They’ll be happy to open the factories and the businesses we can’t afford to build here."

Access the hearing website for links to all testimony, opening remarks and a webcast (
click here).