As Prepared For Delivery:
"Welcome. The American Energy Solutions Group is honored to be in Columbus, Ohio today, and we are grateful to the Ohio State University for its hospitality and the use of this beautiful facility. Thanks to Dean Bobby Moser of the College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and all of the staff here at Ohio State who have been so gracious and welcoming to us.
"I want to thank Rep. Bob Latta, who represents the 5th District of Ohio, for hosting and organizing this summit. He has been an integral member of the solutions group, and this will now be the fourth energy summit in which he has participated this year.
"We are deeply honored to have with us today the House Republican Leader John Boehner. Leader Boehner is in his tenth term representing the 8th District of Ohio, and he has been at the forefront of energy policy in Congress, introducing the American Energy Act in the last two Congresses.
"We also are honored to have with us another member of the American Energy Solutions Group, Rep. Pat Tiberi. Rep. Tiberi represents the 12th District of Ohio and much of the Columbus area. He has been extremely helpful in putting this summit together, and we are grateful for his efforts. Rep. Jean Schmidt joins us from the 2nd District of Ohio and the Cincinnati area. And, finally, Rep. Steve Austria joins us from the 7th District of Ohio and the greater Columbus area.
The American Energy Solutions Group is a group of House Republicans working to lower energy prices for American families and small businesses and create energy independence for the American people. As the energy debate has unfolded over the course of this year, the solutions group has worked on two tracks. First, we have gathered the various ideas of House Republicans and crafted them, with the assistance of Leader Boehner, into the aforementioned American Energy Act, which is our "all-of-the-above" solution that offers energy independence, more jobs and a cleaner environment.
"Second, the solutions group has been engaged in communicating with the American people about the disastrous effects that the Waxman-Markey cap and trade bill will have on our economy, jobs, and family budgets. This is the fifth energy summit the solutions group has held. We have been in Pittsburgh, PA; Indianapolis, IN, San Luis Obispo, CA; and Washington, DC. We have literally been across the country and back taking this conversation to the American people.
It is particularly appropriate that we are in Ohio today. Ohio is home to a tremendous amount of manufacturing, and states in the Midwest get the majority of their electricity from coal. Eighty-six percent of the power generated in Ohio comes from coal-fired power plants. Energy policy made in Washington will affect each and every citizen of Ohio, and I can commit that this group will take what we hear today back to Washington.
"We are honored to have a great panel of academics, industry representatives, and energy experts with us to share their expertise and insight. This summit is intended to be a discussion about not only the economic impacts of the national energy tax proposed in the Waxman-Markey legislation, but also the future of coal and other sources of energy.
To set the stage, I want to note that the Waxman-Markey bill (H.R. 2454) passed the House of Representatives, by a narrow margin (219-212), on June 26, 2009. From President Obama to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, this bill has been set as a top Democrat priority. It is awaiting consideration by the Senate when Congress returns this fall, so time is of the essence.
"Our nation is experiencing a very difficult recession. The unemployment rate stands at 9.4% nationally, and 11.2% here in Ohio. We have witnessed the loss of millions of jobs, trillions of dollars of retirement savings, and the closing of thousands of small businesses across our great nation. With this current state of affairs, it is unconscionable to me that Democrats in Washington would impose a new national energy tax on already burdened taxpayers.
"There is no doubt that the Democrats' misguided bill will kill jobs, raise taxes and lead to more government intrusion in the lives of Americans. If Waxman-Markey becomes law, estimates suggest that household energy costs could rise by thousands of dollars. And those hardest hit by this massive national energy tax will be the poor - who experts agree spend a greater proportion of their income on energy consumption.
"To make matters worse, a devastating consequence of the Democrats' legislation will be fewer jobs. A recent independent study suggests that up to 2.4 million jobs would be lost by 2030, even after any new "green" jobs are factored in. At a time when our nation's economy is suffering, the last thing Congress should do is support legislation that will cause job loss.
"This energy tax will not be borne evenly across the United States. According to a study that ranks Congressional districts based on their manufacturing employment and amount of electricity derived from coal, the Midwest and Southeast will suffer the most. In fact, eight of Ohio's Congressional districts rank in the top 20 most negatively affected. I might add that my Congressional district in eastern Indiana is the fifth-most affected.
"That's a heavy price to pay for a plan that will do very little to clean up our environment, since manufacturers will likely ship their jobs and plants, and their pollution, to countries with less stringent environmental safeguards.
The reality is the cap and tax legislation offered by the Democrats amounts to an economic declaration of war on the Midwest by liberals on Capitol Hill.
"Let me be clear. Republicans want to protect our environment, and believe we can do so while at the same time growing our economy and protecting jobs. Republicans believe we can increase American energy production made by American workers, encourage greater efficiency and conservation, and promote the use of alternative fuels without enacting a national energy tax. We have put forward such solutions in the American Energy Act offered by Leader Boehner and the American Energy Solutions Group.
"The American Energy Act is centered on domestic exploration of our natural resources, and a renewed commitment to safe and emissions-free nuclear energy. According to the Department of Energy, the safest and most efficient way for utility companies to control carbon emissions is to increase their supply of nuclear energy. We lay down a national goal of licensing 100 new nuclear reactors over the next twenty years by streamlining a burdensome regulatory process and ensuring the recycling and safe storage of spent nuclear fuel.
"We also increase domestic supply by lifting restrictions on the Arctic Coastal Plain, the Outer Continental Shelf, and oil shale in the Mountain West. Revenues generated through domestic exploration will support innovation in renewable and alternative energy sources, like wind and solar technologies. Finally, we include various incentives to spur greater conservation among individuals and businesses. For example, I'm glad we're holding this event in a LEED Silver-certified building, as we take energy efficiency seriously and provide tax incentives for improving the energy efficiency of homes and businesses in our bill.
"We look forward to hearing from our witnesses today about the Waxman-Markey bill and the American Energy Act."