(Senate - January 03, 2018)

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[Congressional Record Volume 164, Number 1 (Wednesday, January 3, 2018)]
[Pages S13-S16]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []

                             CLIMATE CHANGE

  Mr. WHITEHOUSE. Thank you, Mr. President, and happy new year to you.
  For my 191st ``Time to Wake Up'' speech, I want to take the change of 
years to reflect on what 2017 meant for our carbon pollution of the 
Earth's climate and what 2018 may bring.
  Our human use of fossil fuels continued to pour carbon dioxide into 
the atmosphere in 2017. The concentration of CO2 in the 
atmosphere now stands at almost 407 parts per million--the highest in 
human history and more than 100 parts per million above the safe range 
in which human development for millennia has flourished. Each year 
brings a new record concentration of CO2 in our atmosphere, 
and this will continue to worsen until the world weans itself off 
fossil fuels.
  Of course, the contamination of our Earth and atmosphere by carbon 
pollution is matched by the contamination of our politics by unlimited 
and often hidden fossil fuel industry money, threats, and promises. 
When the accounting comes for what they have done to the Government of 
the United States, there will be a lot to answer for.
  We are in a heck of a cold snap now, as the boundaries of normal 
weather get blown out in all directions by climate change, but the 
underlying, steady warming trend through all these new extremes of hot 
and cold and wet and dry is obvious.
  Here in the United States, everyone in the lower 48, except for a few 
pockets up in the Northwest where things stayed fairly steady, has seen 
hotter than average temperatures. This represents hot. This represents 
cold. As you can see, most of the map matches the hot end. These are 
the mean temperature departures from average for January to November 
  Residents of the desert Southwest and of coastal Texas and Louisiana 
and much of the Southeast lived through their hottest year ever in 
2017. Record warming is this color. You see it all through these areas, 
record warmest temperature.
  Up in the Arctic, where temperatures are rising twice as fast as the 
rest of the globe, 2017 was the second hottest year ever. In Barrow, 
AK, the temperature rose so rapidly that computer algorithms kicked in 
and flagged the underlying data as suspect. The computer felt something 
must have gone wrong with the equipment and flagged the data as 
suspect. In fact, the readings were extraordinary, but they were real. 
That was the temperature.
  We also saw a punishing onslaught of extreme weather in 2017, making 
it the most expensive disaster year in U.S. history, costing nearly 
$400 billion in damages. The United States had averaged fewer than six 
billion-dollar weather-related disasters a year. Between January and 
late October 2017, we experienced 16, which killed 282 people. Final 
estimates of the devastation during 2017 aren't complete. It may prove 
that 1,000 lost lives are attributable to Hurricane Maria and its 
aftermath in Puerto Rico.
  The 2017 Atlantic hurricane season brought 17 named storms, 10 
hurricanes, and 6 major hurricanes--those with average wind speeds 
exceeding 115 miles per hour.
  In August, Hurricane Harvey roared ashore with winds over 130 miles 
per hour, dropping more than 60 inches of rain over the Houston and 
Port Arthur areas. Areas that aren't even on the

[[Page S14]]

flood maps found themselves flooded. Scientists agree that the 
unprecedented Texas deluge was only made possible by a warming 
  September brought Hurricanes Irma and Maria, which ravaged the 
Caribbean, including the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and the 
Bahamas, as well as Florida. Much of Puerto Rico is still without power 
months after the storm. Abnormally warm waters in the tropical Atlantic 
fueled this punishing succession of storms.
  Out West, 2017's high temperatures and low rainfall created 
conditions ripe for wildfire.
  As of November, more than 6.4 million acres had burned--an area 
roughly the size of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts--making 2017 the 
third most active fire year in history.
  In October, fast-moving wildfires laid waste to the California wine 
country, destroying almost 9,000 structures and killing more than 40 
people. They were the costliest fires in U.S. history, bringing $9 
billion in damage and $85 billion in economic loss.
  In December, the Thomas fire exploded across coastal California, 
burning over 280,000 acres on its way to becoming the largest wildfire 
in California history. Notably, fire season should have been over by 
then in California, extinguished by December's customary winter rains, 
but not in 2017. Southern California had near-record low rainfall this 
winter, leaving vegetation desiccated and ready to ignite.
  The evidence continued to pile up in 2017 of the connection between 
climate change and this extreme weather. The American Meteorological 
Society released a report showing that a majority of extreme weather 
and climatic events in 2016 were influenced by human-caused climate 
change. Indeed, the report found that the record average global 
temperatures in 2016, the record warm waters in the North Pacific, and 
the record temperatures in Asia simply would not have occurred without 
human-caused climate change.
  We should not--as we too often do--overlook the oceans. The added 
carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that has run up the concentration to 
407 parts per million alters the ocean's very chemistry. The added heat 
trapped by that carbon dioxide in the atmosphere gets picked up by the 
oceans, and it raises ocean temperatures. Warmer, more acidic seas 
destroy coral reefs, displace fisheries, and rise along populous 
shores. We measure all this already.
  With all these alarm bells ringing, how did the United States respond 
in 2017 to the climate crisis? Our newly inaugurated President, Donald 
Trump, pointedly ignored the global political and scientific consensus 
that climate change poses a grave risk to our way of life--a prediction 
shared by our State universities, our National Laboratories, our major 
scientific associations, and even our military. President Trump 
nominated fossil fuel stooge Scott Pruitt to run the Environmental 
Protection Agency. For Energy Secretary, Trump nominated Rick Perry, 
who uses his office to promote fossil fuel, even announcing a plan to 
subsidize the coal industry after private meetings with big Trump coal 
company donors. Then there is Ryan Zinke, Trump's Secretary of the 
Interior, who decided to reopen public lands to coal mining and wants 
to roll back the rule limiting methane emissions from oil and gas 
drilling on our American public lands. It is literally the three 
  In May, President Trump announced America's withdrawal from the Paris 
climate agreement, leaving the United States the only country on Earth 
to reject this landmark pact.
  This is not leadership; this is its corrupted opposite. This 
administration is in hock to the fossil fuel industry like no other. 
Trump and his pals haven't drained the swamp; they have jumped right in 
with the biggest swamp monsters of all.
  The U.S. Chamber of Commerce pays for a phony ``study'' claiming the 
Paris Agreement would cost jobs and economic growth; Trump pulls us out 
of Paris. The American Petroleum Institute complains about rules 
limiting methane emissions; Pruitt and Zinke try to roll them back. The 
Auto Alliance complains about fuel efficiency standards that the auto 
companies agreed to for American cars; Pruitt starts a project to water 
them down. Trump takes money by the shovelful from fossil fuel donors, 
and Pence dances on the Koch brothers' strings.
  Yet 2017 offered reasons to remain optimistic. First is the explosion 
in renewable energy.

  In 2017, renewables provided nearly 20 percent of electricity 
generation in the United States. As wind and solar costs fell, 
utilities across the country--even in red States--invested heavily in 
wind and solar. The renewable energy industry hit 3.3 million jobs--
more than all fossil fuel jobs combined.
  More good news: The leadership void left by the corrupted Trump 
administration was filled by thousands of State and local governments, 
businesses, academic institutions, and faith organizations which 
pledged to honor the Paris Agreement and reduce their carbon emissions. 
The States of California, Connecticut, Hawaii, New York, North 
Carolina, Oregon, Virginia, Washington, and, I am proud to say, Rhode 
Island, have all declared that they are still in. Alaska announced it 
would meet its goals. What is more, California and Washington joined 
with Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, and Mexico to announce a plan 
to put a price on carbon to rein in emissions.
  Businesses in 2017 exercised climate leadership in the marketplace. 
Leading asset manager BlackRock helped break the back of Exxon's and 
Occidental Petroleum's opposition to shareholder resolutions requiring 
them to report their climate risk to their shareholders. Multinational 
insurance firm AXA announced it would divest from its tar sands 
holdings and stop insuring pipelines that transport tar sands oil. 
Credit rating agency Moody's announced it will consider climate risk in 
rating coastal communities' municipal bonds. Companies like Microsoft 
and Unilever have their own baked-in, internal carbon price to help 
them reduce the carbon intensity of their operations.
  Then there are the court battles. In 2017, multiple California 
municipalities sued fossil fuel companies under the State public 
nuisance law to seek help with the huge adaptation costs they face as 
sea level rises and extreme weather becomes more common.
  State attorneys general in Massachusetts and New York defeated 
attempts by ExxonMobil to disrupt their fraud investigation into 
whether the company has been covering up what it knew about the risks 
posed by fossil fuels. By the way, at the very end of last year, we 
discovered there were reports through the American Petroleum Institute 
of the dangers of climate change from renowned scientists, including 
Edward Teller, going back to 1959. That is how long this coverup may 
have been going on.
  So these various things that are happening among businesses, among 
States, among leaders, among other countries, among State attorneys 
general, and the courts give me hope for 2018. The renewable energy 
revolution will continue. It is unstoppable as prices drive the market 
their way. Forward-thinking business leaders will realize they must 
fight for good climate policy not just within their own companies but 
also here in Washington. They need to start showing up. America's 
courts will provide a forum for truth and disclosure--two things very 
scarce in climate denial--which fossil fuel companies, for that reason, 
have for years fiercely fought to avoid, but judges will insist on 
answers, plaintiffs are entitled to discovery, and lying in court gets 
you punished.
  World and State and local leaders have picked up the mantle abandoned 
by Washington Republicans and, who knows, there is always hope. 
Republicans and Democrats in Congress just might reflect on 2017--on 
the hurricanes and the wildfires and all the changes already taking 
place in our home States; may reflect on what all of our home State 
universities are telling us; may look at where young and independent 
voters are on this issue; may heed the longstanding warnings of our 
U.S. military and maybe--just maybe--step out from under the bullying 
shadow of the fossil fuel industry and come together to solve our 
climate crisis.
  Here are my 2018 resolutions: Let's put a price on carbon emissions 
so their release into the atmosphere reflects the true cost, as market 
theory says it should. This market-based solution is endorsed by 
leading thinkers and analysts on the left and the right.

[[Page S15]]

Let's also launch carbon capture and storage, including direct air 
capture. Let's launch carbon-free advanced nuclear technologies. Let's 
help America lead the world in the fight to stave off irreversible 
climate catastrophe with the new technologies that we are the world's 
best at developing. Finally, for coastal States like my home State of 
Rhode Island--which faced the irrevocable upward march of warming seas 
on a warming planet--let's make sure coastal communities have the 
resources they need to predict and prevent or prepare for the future 
that looms.
  We owe this to our children and to our children's children. We owe it 
to all future generations that will look back at us and ask: When it 
was so obvious, how is it possible that the Government of the United 
States--how is it possible that this city on a hill--could do nothing 
but the bidding of the most conflicted industry on the planet? In 2018, 
let's get this right.
  Thank you.
  I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. INHOFE. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. INHOFE. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to speak in 
morning business for such time as I may consume.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. INHOFE. Mr. President, I begin by wishing everyone a happy new 
year, and hopefully everyone had a great Christmas. We did.
  I have three observations I wish to make about 2018. First, here in 
Washington, we are experiencing some really frigid temperatures this 
week. Let me tell my colleagues that in Oklahoma, it was even colder 
there than it was here. That is unusual, but it was. So we experienced 
recordbreaking, bitter, cold weather, and it was pretty miserable, but 
the great, warm people of Oklahoma had a great Christmas, New Year's, 
and everything is good. Many parts of the country saw 2017 with the 
recordbreaking cold weather, and meteorologists are predicting more 
recordbreaking cold for the rest of the week and the beginning of next 
  I bring this up to highlight the fact that President Trump joked last 
week on Twitter. He said: ``We could use a little bit of that good old 
global warming.'' I say it a little bit differently. I say: Where is 
global warming when we need it because we sure needed it this last 
week. Well, the alarmists went crazy over this. Let me explain what an 
alarmist is.
  Alarmists believe global warming is coming due to anthropogenic 
gases, and the world is coming to an end. They are the ones who jumped 
on that, and they actually went crazy for not understanding the 
difference between weather and climate.
  We keep saying the same thing. Every time we go through one of these 
periods where we experience an event again, we have the same thing that 
comes up, and we talk about it. Climate is always changing. We 
understand that. We actually had a unanimous vote on the floor of the 
Senate, saying, yes, climate changes; it has always changed. 
Historically, scripturally, there has always been change. We understand 
that. Anyway, I remember I have been criticized for the same thing.
  My colleagues might remember, I brought a snowball here a couple of 
Februaries ago to show we are not experiencing climate change when it 
snows in February, after we have been told for decades that soon we 
wouldn't have any snow again.
  That was really kind of a fun thing. I had some of the pages lined 
up, and I asked: Which one of you guys is the most athletic? It 
happened that the guy who raised his hand--they all pointed to him and 
said: He is the guy who is most athletic, and he was from Oklahoma. So 
I said: I will tell you what I will do. I will take the snowball, throw 
it up there at the Presiding Officer, and you intercept it. If you 
don't intercept it, it will be a mess. He intercepted it. It was 
  Sometimes people have to quit being so serious about all of this 
stuff and realize there are things that are happening that people need 
to talk about, that are for real, on point. Some might remember Al Gore 
made some pretty outrageous claims. Enough years have gone by, but he 
said that by the deadlines he pointed out, global warming was going to 
cause all the snow to melt on Mount Kilimanjaro. I was not far from 
Kilimanjaro just a few weeks ago, and the snow is still there.
  He said that by 2016 the Arctic would be completely melted and all 
the polar bears would be extinct. None of that happened. The only thing 
that has happened, according to an article in the New York Times, is 
that Al Gore has now become the first environmental billionaire. 
Critics were quick to jump on my case when he did that, and I had to 
remind them that there is a difference between weather and climate.
  Those same critics are also quick to jump on weather events when it 
supports their cause. Whenever there is a particularly bad tornado in 
Oklahoma--and we have bad tornadoes in Oklahoma; I have never seen a 
good tornado--there are people who have witnessed them, and I am 
immediately asked if this will cause me to change my mind about global 
warming or climate change. I said: Why? Alarmists have been insisting 
for a long period of time that the world is coming to an end, and it is 
coming to an end because of global warming.
  After this past hurricane season, I was repeatedly ask if I thought 
climate change was to blame for the tragic natural disasters. Again, I 
responded: You alarmists have been insisting that weather isn't 
climate; so why do you change your position now?
  I am not surprised that we have hurricanes during hurricane season, 
we have tornadoes during tornado season, and we have cold and snow 
during the winter. That is not unique to just my State of Oklahoma. 
That is all over the country and all over the world.
  We hear constantly that natural disasters are getting worse. Yet, 
when we look at the data, there is no support for the conclusion. When 
category 4 Hurricane Harvey hit Texas and other Gulf States, it was the 
first major hurricane to make landfall in the continental United States 
for 12 years. The next largest gap between major hurricanes actually 
lasted only 8 years, and that was in the 1860s. Tornado activity has 
also been down in recent years, with the latest data of 2016 showing a 
continued low number of tornadoes across the United States. I might say 
that this is also true for my State of Oklahoma. Since we are 
experiencing recordbreaking cold last week and this week in much of the 
country, we are once again reminded that weather is not climate.
  So what is happening on the climate front? Now, keep in mind that the 
alarmists are the ones saying that the world is coming to an end 
because of global warming. They say that we all will be burned to death 
and temperatures are skyrocketing. Over the last couple of years, we 
have been told that it was the hottest year on record. We have been 
scolded by the jet-setting Hollywood celebrities about our carbon 
footprint, but, again, if we actually look at the data, there isn't 
support for all of this hysteria.
  The Obama administration touted 2014, 2015, and 2016 as the hottest 
years on record. But the increases are well within the margin of error. 
In 2016, NOAA said the Earth warmed by 0.04 degrees Celsius, and the 
British Government pegged it at 0.01 Celsius. However, the margin of 
error is 0.1 degree, not 0.01. So it is all statistically meaningless 
and below the doom-and-gloom temperature predictions from all the 
various models from consensus scientists.
  Now, this is interesting. Steven Koonin was appointed Under Secretary 
for Science at the Department of Energy by President Obama. That was 
during the Obama administration. He said: ``The Obama administration 
relentlessly politicized science and aggressively pushed a campaign 
about that politicized science.'' In other words, he used that to make 
a case that is not true, and this comes out of his own administration.
  In September 2017, University of Alabama in Huntsville climate 
scientists John Christy and Richard McNider published a study showing 
no acceleration in global warming for the last 23 years.

[[Page S16]]

  Their research shows that if you remove the climate effects of two 
volcanic eruptions and the El Nino and La Nina systems that occurred 
over the last 38 years, there has been no change since the early 1990s 
to the rate of warming and that model predictions from the IPCC are 
overstated by about double.
  Keep in mind that the IPCC is the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate 
Change of the United Nations. They started this about 40 years ago, and 
their scientists have been completely discredited.
  I remember when that took place in Copenhagen. They had one of the 
big annual United Nations parties. At that time, Lisa Jackson was 
Obama's Administrator of the EPA. She knew I was going to go there and 
tell the truth to all these people.
  I asked her this question on the public record. In the event that I 
leave town and you are going to start regulating global warming, you 
have to first declare that there is an urgency to this and you have to 
use a scientific declaration. What science will you use?
  She said: We are going to use the IPCC, or the Intergovernmental 
Panel on Climate Change.

  As luck would have it, just a matter of days after, the IPCC was 
totally rejected. Everyone remembers how they had been caught rigging 
the information in terms of weather, and it was really quite a mess.
  Going back to Christy's explanation, which just came out the other 
day, the volcanic eruptions cooled the Earth when ash, soot, and debris 
entered the atmosphere and sunlight was reflected away. ``Those 
eruptions happened relatively early in our study period, which pushed 
down temperatures in the first part of the dataset, which caused the 
overall record to show an exaggerated warming trend.''
  So we have two respected climate scientists using sound science to 
discredit the so-called consensus scientists. By the way, there are 
hundreds of other scientists out there. One of the best known is a guy 
from MIT named Richard Lindzen. He has been very outspoken on this.
  So every time we hear people talking that ``there is a consensus of 
science,'' I think we know better. Remember that the media does not 
share the studies. So quite often they do not say anything about some 
of the failed practices being used to draw us to these conclusions. I 
am thankful we have a President and an administration that refuses to 
handcuff our economy with policies based on overblown headlines.
  So while we continue to have tornadoes in May, hurricanes in the 
fall, and bitterly cold temperatures in the winter, we must remember 
that the climate has been stable over the last few decades, and we 
shouldn't give in to the fearmongers out there. Rather, we should focus 
on actual threats to American families, like the regime which calls for 
``death to America'' and ``death to Israel.''