WASHINGTON — Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, told PJM that China is “celebrating” U.S. efforts to reduce its carbon emissions because “they will end up inheriting” much of America’s manufacturing base.
Inhofe also called climate change a “Hollywood problem.”
“Everyone is supposed to make a commitment in Paris. You know what their commitment was? Well, they are going to continue to increase. Right now, every 10 days China builds a new coal-fired power plant and they are going to continue to do that by their own admission until 2020, then they say they may start reducing it,” Inhofe told PJM during an interview on Capitol Hill. “Why would we be the leader and they all follow us when it’s something that is a failure and they know it in their own minds?”
In 2009, the Democratic-led House of Representatives passed the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009, also known as cap-and-trade, but it failed in the Senate. According to Inhofe, that legislation would have carried a price tag of about $3,000 per family in the U.S.
Despite the bill’s defeat, congressional Democrats have argued that the U.S. should lead the world on climate change regardless of how many countries pledge to reduce their emissions. Inhofe called that argument “garbage,” telling PJM that China currently has “no restrictions” on its emissions.
“The problem is in China. It’s in India. It’s in Mexico, so it wouldn’t do any good for us. In fact, just the opposite could be true. As we chase our manufacturing base overseas because it’s too expensive here, they will go to places like China where there are no restrictions,” Inhofe said. “We’re talking about the largest tax increase in history and it will not reduce CO2 emissions.”
Inhofe told PJM the United Nations annual meeting on climate change is a “big party” that typically draws more than 190 countries. Inhofe said a friend of his from West Africa attended in 2003.
“I said, ‘Luke, what in the world are you doing here? You don’t believe any of this stuff.’ He said, ‘But this is the biggest party of the year.’ You know, the worst thing that can happen is they run out of caviar, but this is the big party. They all come in and for 21 years they have been doing this and nothing has been accomplished,” he said.
The Supreme Court has placed a stay on President Obama’s clean power plan. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy has been promoting the plan at several events, stressing that the agency has a strong legal argument for the plan’s implementation. Inhofe disagrees with McCarthy’s assessment.
“Here’s why the president can’t do it through regulation is, first of all, there are 27 states that have lawsuits against the EPA right now or against Obama in this case and the Supreme Court has come by and said until all these are settled we are putting a stay on it,” he said.
Inhofe had a message for states like Pennsylvania that are enforcing the clean power plan’s regulations on their own before the outcome of the lawsuits.
“I’m a great believer in states’ rights. If they want to do that. If they are wealthy enough in the state of Pennsylvania to throw away that amount of money, that’s fine,” he said. “This type of restriction like the clean power plan hurts everyone — hurts manufacturers and all that.”
Inhofe said the clean power plan is part of Obama’s “war on fossil fuels.”
“Climate changes and it’s always changed. I gave a speech on the floor that surprised a lot of people and said you ought to go back and look at it historically, look at it biblically, any way you look at it, climate has always changed,” he said. “We’ve gone into cold and then warmer periods.”
Inhofe said a global cooling period began in 1945 until about 1980, adding that people would not buy into the term “global warming” so it eventually morphed into “climate change.”
“They come up with these things, saying ‘the hottest year so far.’ It’s just not true,” he said.
Right before Earth Day, Inhofe stressed the importance of releasing the names of countries that have not followed through on commitments to lower emissions.
Inhofe remains open to investments of federal funds in renewable energy, but “we’re not there yet.”
“I don’t want to heavily subsidize some renewable thing if the technology is not there yet,” he said.
He criticized President Obama for spending $120 billion in taxpayer funds not “authorized” or “appropriated” for fighting climate change.
“We have a lot of problems to deal with, and not the Hollywood problems,” he added.