Fact Check from Climate Hearings – 4/22/09

The House Subcommittee on Energy and the Environment is holding hearings this week on landmark climate and energy legislation.

We are launching a regular Fact Check series during the subcommittee and subsequent full committee debate to correct the record on false and misleading statements from climate action opponents.

Here’s our first installment:

The renewable energy requirements in this bill are entirely unrealistic. — Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) 

A cap on carbon will unleash the investment necessary for America to meet this target. Our steel plants need orders, our factories need new customers, and our exporters need high value products to sell to Asia and Europe. A cap will drive enormous clean energy investments throughout the supply chain – generating demand for ball bearings and steel for wind turbines, glass and plastics for solar cells, and hundreds of new technologies.

We know cap and trade works because we have empirical evidence. In the 1990s, the U.S. acid rain cap and trade program achieved 100% compliance in reducing sulfur dioxide emissions. In fact, power plants participating in the program reduced SO2 emissions 22% — 7.3 million tons — below mandated levels.

All this has been achieved at a fraction of the cost estimates. Prior to the launch of the program, costs were estimated to run from $3-$25 billion per year. After the first 2 years of the program, the costs were actually $0.8 billion per year and the long-term costs of the program are expected to be around $1.0-$1.4 billion per year, far below early projections.

The doom-and-gloomers were wrong then. And they’re wrong now.

We must be plain, and we must be honest when we discuss this system. It will pull thousands more out of the family budget every year. — Marsha Blackburn, R-TN

A cap on carbon pollution will help break America’s addiction to oil and create jobs, while protecting the family budget. Best of all, it’s affordable. Based on EPA estimates, it will only cost the average American household about 12 to 15 cents a day more. That’s roughly what it costs to brew one pot of coffee in the morning.

The cost of this cap-and-trade system will kill agriculture long before global warming does. — George Radanovich (R-CA)

Nothing will kill California agriculture faster than global warming. Southern California is already subtropical in the summer. But with climate change, the dry conditions of Southern California could spread to areas like northern California, Washington and Utah.

That means climate change hits the California agriculture with a double whammy — a shift to a climate with less precipitation coupled with the loss of the mountain snowpack that acts as a reservoir for the state, which the state is already experiencing now.

In a worst case, Energy Secretary Chu has said, up to 90% of the Sierra snowpack could disappear, all but eliminating a natural storage system for water vital to agriculture. Actually, under a cap and trade policy, farmers will have the chance to profit in the new carbon markets.

We lack the fundamental piece of evidence that humans are causing global warming. — Mike Burgess, TX

Where to begin?

Fact: The decade of 1998-2007 was the warmest on record, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

Fact: Glaciers are in retreat on every continent.

Fact: Arctic sea ice extent has been diminishing over the past 20 years in agreement with model predictions, according to NOAA.

Fact: Levels of CO2 in the atmosphere are higher than at any time in the last 600,000 years (and probably in the last 20 million), and getting higher every year. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 2,500 of the best climate scientists in the world, citing hundreds of the latest studies, has concluded that global warming is happening, and human activity is responsible. So has the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, which even President George W. Bush called “the gold standard.”

Largest assault on democracy & freedom in this country I’ve ever experienced. — John Shimkus (R-IL)

Well, okay…

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