Proceedings, Debates of the U.S. Congress
(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 [www.gpo.gov] 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 2017. 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 atmosphere. 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 stooges. 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 week. 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 beautiful. 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.'' ____________________