A Joint Letter on Climate Policy to Chairman Domenici and Senator Bingaman
Washington, D. C.
4th April 2006
Hon. Pete V. Domenici
and Hon. Jeff Bingaman
Ranking Minority Member
Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
United States Senate
Dear Chairman Domenici and Senator Bingaman:
The undersigned organizations are writing to express our concerns about the process you have set up to raise energy prices for American consumers by putting a mandatory cap on greenhouse gas emissions. We think that the conference you are holding on 4th April has been designed to avoid considering fundamental scientific, economic, and public policy questions in order to reach a pre-determined outcome. Furthermore, we think that the outcome you envision would, if accomplished, reward special interests at the expense of consumers and would damage the U. S. economy without providing any compensating environmental benefits. Specifically, we take issue with three aspects of the process you have set up, which we detail below.
First, the Committee issued its White Paper requesting comment on the design of a cap-and-trade program before hearing from qualified experts who question the scientific rationale for such programs. Chairman Domenici promised to conduct a balanced enquiry in his opening statement at the Committee’s July 21, 2005 hearing. Alluding to the fact that all the witnesses were from the alarmist wing of the scientific community, he stated:
"I am also aware that there are other qualified members of the scientific community who do not share those views, and probably even more who are concerned that anything we do will significantly affect our economy and way of life, and also suggest that maybe anything we do will not have any impact [on the climate]. So, as I said, we are going to have additional hearings, and hear from those witnesses who are going to have different views from what we are going to hear today."
Because only one side was represented at the hearing the Committee did hold, the scientists testifying made several key statements that could have been challenged, and, we believe, convincingly, had other views been represented on the panel. The Committee has yet to hold a hearing featuring any of those "other qualified members of the scientific community." Issuing the White Paper before the Committee has heard the case against alarm from qualified experts is putting the cart before the horse—a rush to judgment unworthy of the Senate.
Second, the White Paper provides no opportunity for public comment on the scientific and economic issues at the heart of the climate policy debate. The threshold questions—whether climate science justifies alarm and whether any regulatory strategy could possibly do more good than harm—are not even mentioned.
Third, of the 29 panelists who will participate in the Committee’s April 4th climate policy conference, the general interest of consumers in abundant, affordable energy is barely represented. Instead, the panels are stacked with people representing special interests that hope to profit in various ways from the higher energy prices that will result from a mandatory cap-and-trade regime for greenhouse gas emissions.
Finally, we recommend that before moving ahead with your proposal that you consult the experience of countries that have ratified the Kyoto Protocol and have begun to implement mandatory cap-and-trade programs to reduce emissions. The European Union-15, Japan, Canada, and New Zealand are on track to miss their Kyoto commitments by wide margins, but are still finding that the costs of trying but failing to limit emissions are significant. At a time when consumers are struggling with high prices for energy and energy-intensive products, we find it puzzling that you seem intent on pursuing policies that can only raise energy prices further. We would ask, Don’t you think energy prices are high enough already?
Thank you for your attention to our concerns.
Marlo Lewis, Senior Fellow
and Myron Ebell, Director of Energy and Global Warming Policy
Competitive Enterprise Institute
Paul M. Weyrich
Coalitions for America
Vice President for Legislative Affairs
Christian Coalition of America.
H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D.
National Center for Policy Analysis
Legislative DirectorNational Grange of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry
Senior Policy Advisor
Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow
Congress of Racial Equality
Americans for Tax Reform
Howard HutchinsonExecutive DirectorCoalition of Arizona/New Mexico Counties
Daniel R. Simmons
Director, Natural Resource Task Force
American Legislative Exchange Council
Director, Center for Global Food Issues
Council for America
National Taxpayers Union
American Conservative Union
President and CEOAmerican Highway Users Alliance
Fred V. Grau, Jr.
Take Back Pennsylvania
Council for Citizens Against Government Waste
President and CEO