Rep. Blumenauer Remarks on Climate Change

Washington, DC–(ENEWSPF)–December 1, 2015.  As global leaders meet in Paris on climate change, and the House considers this week measures to undercut the Administration’s climate initiatives, Representative Earl Blumenauer (OR-03) today delivered remarks on the House floor on the best solution to the climate threat – enacting a revenue-neutral fee on carbon emissions.

To follow are Representative Blumenauer’s remarks as prepared. Click here to watch his speech.

“The eyes of the world are on Paris, as it recovers from one tragedy and as 150 world leaders gather to prevent another. They meet to secure a global agreement on climate change.

“Reliance on fossil fuels – especially coal – and wasteful expensive energy consumption shortchange today’s priorities and threatens our future. Ten years from now, even many of the current climate skeptics will wonder, ‘What were we thinking?’

“The scientific evidence and the overwhelming consensus it has created is clear – the immediate impacts of record temperatures, erratic and very dangerous weather patterns, ocean acidification, draught, disease, social disruption, and wildfires all have predictable impacts that already cost us dearly with many more severe problems on the horizon.

“It is sad that what should be a straightforward, scientific conclusion has become so emotionally charged and politically volatile. It is embarrassing and ironic that in the middle of this historic event on climate change, as the world consensus is strengthening and moving towards action, the best that our Republican Congress can do is vote on two pieces of legislation that would undue much of the progress we’ve already made. The Republican leader in the Senate argues that the carbon rule of the Administration is a vast overreach, and that the Obama policies won’t accomplish anything – and yet is working to undermine their effectiveness. We will then vote on H.R. 8, a fossil fuel giveaway that will do nothing to combat climate change, but only accelerate the problem.

“The best solution to the climate threat is not these foolish votes or obstructionism, but an action that has the potential to resolve other controversial issues, while addressing our major climate challenges. It’s past time for the federal government to enact a revenue-neutral fee on carbon emissions. This would not be an excuse to expand government spending and new programs, but instead simplify and solve current problems in a cost-effective manner.

“Consider for a moment that high on the list of problems, in addition to climate change, for almost everyone else is that we should fix our broken corporate tax code, address our looming Social Security deficit, and streamline the patchwork of uneven energy subsidy provisions. A revenue-neutral carbon tax is a proven market mechanism to reduce devastating carbon pollution.

“By adequately pricing carbon, we could generate approximately $2 trillion over ten years, and sweep away expensive, and often conflicting, clean energy subsidies and replace them with something much more effective. We could use the revenue to eliminate the looming 25 percent cut in Social Security – acting quickly while a solution is more affordable and less disruptive to the lives of our seniors. At the same time, we could tailor the Social Security tax to protect middle and lower income people from impacts of the fee, and we could help small businesses, shielding them from part of the cost and lowering the payroll tax they pay, making it cheaper to employ people. Finally, a portion of the carbon revenues could be used to buy down the world’s highest corporate tax rate – ours –which distorts business decisions and places us in a competitive disadvantage with other developed countries.

“Think about it. We could solve the existential climate threat, make the tax system simpler, more fair and effective, avoid the looming Social Security crisis, and shield individuals and small businesses from undue impact from the carbon fee, while making our businesses more competitive.

“That is as close as you can come to a non-partisan, non-ideological, grand slam policy. Instead of policies of division and denial, it’s time for us to come together supporting a revenue-neutral carbon tax to solve multiple problems and meet our obligations to our children and grandchildren.”