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The Environmental Protection Agency today is hosting a “Public Listening Session” at the Metcalfe Federal Building in Chicago, allowing the public to weigh in on the Obama administration’s “Climate Action Plan.” The plan would grant broad powers to the EPA to curb the production of fossil fuels, strictly regulate coal-fired power plants, and funnel taxpayer money toward “green energy” companies.
Heartland Institute Policy Advisors Steve Goreham and Paul Driessen are at the hearing today. Below is their testimony.
“December 7, 2009 is a date that will live in infamy. Not in memory of Pearl Harbor, but because on that date, the Environmental Protection Agency declared carbon dioxide to be a pollutant under the Clean Air Act.
“Ladies and gentlemen, that is bizarre. Carbon dioxide is not a pollutant. It’s an odorless, harmless, invisible gas. It does not cause smoke or smog. The white vapor above a power plant’s cooling tower is condensing water vapor. We can’t see carbon dioxide. Each of us breathes in just a trace of CO2, but our bodies burn sugars and produce CO2, so with every breath we exhale air with 100 times the carbon dioxide that is in the atmosphere.
“In fact, CO2 is green! Hundreds of peer-reviewed studies show that higher levels of atmospheric CO2 increase the growth rate and size of plants. Plants get larger vegetables, larger fruit, and thicker tree trunks; they’re more resistant to drought with higher levels of CO2. If humans could put one compound into the atmosphere that is great for the biosphere, carbon dioxide is that compound.
“The greenhouse effect is a natural effect and man-made emissions play only an insignificant part. Earth’s dominant greenhouse gas is not carbon dioxide or methane. Earth’s dominant greenhouse gas is water vapor. Between 75 and 90 percent of Earth’s greenhouse effect is caused by water vapor and clouds. Of the remaining portion of the greenhouse effect that is due to carbon dioxide and methane, 96 percent of that is due to natural emissions from oceans and the biosphere. This means that the man-made portion of the greenhouse effect is only about one part in 100.
“Because the greenhouse effect is dominated by natural, not man-made factors, no EPA policy will have a measureable effect on Earth’s climate. No EPA policy will have an effect on icecap size, sea level rise, the frequency or intensity of hurricanes or tornadoes, or on droughts or floods. No EPA policy, however severe, will have a measurable effect on global temperatures.
“But, EPA regulations can have a severe impact on Americans. Today, 38 percent of US electricity and 47 percent of Illinois electricity comes from coal. Destruction of our coal industry will raise the price of electricity for American citizens and businesses, disproportionately affecting the poor.
“As a citizen of Illinois and the United States, I urge you to abandon this costly and futile fight to control Earth’s climate and return to solving the real pollution problems that we face.”
“The EPA says carbon dioxide from America’s coal-fired power plants is causing dangerous climate change. It says computer models support these claims.
“But the models are useless. Their predictions have been totally wrong – and none of EPA’s claims about hurricanes, tornadoes, rising seas and other alleged dangers have been accurate. Climate change has been ‘real’ since Earth began. The Dust Bowl, hurricanes, the Little Ice Age and droughts that destroyed the Anasazi and Mayan cultures were all terrible. People adapted and coped and survived – and today’s technologies allow us to deal much better with future climate changes.
“What we cannot cope with so easily are government regulations that deliberately shut down reliable, affordable coal-based electricity – and, after that, natural gas power generation. These rules will drive up energy prices and make it very hard for companies to stay in business or avoid layoffs.
“The rules will kill jobs, shut down factories, companies and industries – and devastate families and communities that depend on coal mining, factory jobs and affordable energy. And yet the EPA isn’t even holding any hearings in the states and areas that are most dependent on coal mining and coal-generated power.
“The EPA’s proposed rules will also force greater dependency on wind turbines, which kill millions of threatened and endangered birds and bats every year. That is unacceptable and unsustainable.
“But the worst impacts from EPA’s rules will be on the health and welfare of Americans. When people are unemployed, or holding two lower paying part-time jobs, the extra time, stress and financial worries have huge impacts on their health and well-being. Their nutrition suffers.
“They battle with sleep deprivation; longer commuting times; higher incidences of depression; more prevalent alcohol, drug, spouse and child abuse; higher suicide rates; and lower life expectancies. This means every life that EPA claims its rules will improve – by supposedly preventing climate change – will be made worse by the EPA’s own rules. Every life that the EPA says will be saved by its costly, job-killing CO2 regulations will be offset by lives shortened or lost by those rules.
“The EPA doesn’t even mention any of this – much less conduct any cost-benefit studies, or calculate how many lives will be shortened or lost because of its proposed rules. The EPA needs to do that work, before it takes one more step toward implementing these rules.”