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Climate Action Now Act

Floor Speech

Date: May 2, 2019
Location: Washington, DC




Mr. SHIMKUS. Mr. Chair, it is, again, great to be here this morning. I appreciate Speaker Pelosi coming down and talking about bipartisan solutions and working together.

Obviously, on this piece of legislation, I think the terminology was demanding a plan for the administration. Well, that assumes that the administration would sign this bill. That also assumes that the Senate would pass this bill. Even if the President would sign a bill that he doesn't want to enact, he would probably then veto the bill he just signed. Then we would sustain his veto.

If we want to move forward, then we want to do things that can get through the Senate and get to the President's desk. That is why, all afternoon yesterday, we talked about--and this amendment has some of those issues in it--adaptation, resiliency, grid modernization, and how do you adapt.

We appreciate the intent on which this amendment is being brought forward.

On another cautionary note, in the Paris accord, when it talks about addressing loss and damage associated with the impacts of climate change, it is referring to the Paris accord's provision for developing countries. That accord doesn't have provisions for developed countries.

Maybe as things move forward with my colleague from New Jersey, we can make sure we address that appropriately.

We would like to have these studies done before we go into international agreements when we don't know how they are going to respond, versus after the fact, just like the cart before the horse. Then we will know that this is a good deal, that we should do this, or maybe that we shouldn't.

We had a couple of amendments last night that talked about all the bad aspects but none of the positive aspects. We also had a couple that said let's look at the good and the bad.

I would suggest that, in an amendment, there may be some areas of the country in which the infrastructure is not going to be harmed. In fact, an area of the country might even benefit from these changes.

Mr. Chair, I ask my colleagues to vote against the amendment, and I yield back the balance of my time.


Mr. SHIMKUS. Mr. Chair, I claim the time in opposition.


Mr. SHIMKUS. Mr. Chair, this is the perfect example of an amendment that, as we move something forward that might be able to be considered by the Senate and signed by the President, I think we would be very interested in dealing with.

Although, I guess I am a little confused. The amendment says we don't want to be technologically specific, although you mentioned the benefits of carbon capture, sequestration, and utilization, which is an amendment we had in the committee to try to say these are some good technologies we ought to consider.

A lot of folks on our side have been excited about the energy renaissance, the ability to recover more oil. We know the great stories of Texas and the ability to capture carbon and sequester it with utilization for money to help deal with other issues.

I think when we move in the direction of a bill that we plan to get through the Senate and the House, we should keep our communications open because I think there are some bipartisan solutions.

The Republicans have always talked about conservation, innovation, and adaptation. This is part of the innovation package.

We also have advanced nuclear in that package. We also have pump storage and batteries in that package. I think there are opportunities here.

We offered, as I said, in the committee, the value of nuclear and advanced nuclear energy, hydropower, carbon capture, and the production and export of natural gas. Part of my portfolio of volunteer activities is in the Eastern European bloc. Obviously, the ability to export natural gas has been a boon to these countries that don't want to be enslaved to Russian natural gas.

Again, there are things we can do. When we talk about innovation necessary to produce a strong economy, energy security, and lower emissions, we have to focus on the benefits of these technologies. While I can agree with the idea of this amendment, I think it falls short of what is necessary for Congress to assist our priorities.

Mr. Chair, I encourage a ``no'' vote, but I look forward to working with my colleague in the future, and I yield back the balance of my time.


Mr. SHIMKUS. Mr. Chairman, first of all, we really don't need a Paris Agreement to meet substantial changes in the carbon dioxide, or, as my colleague was speaking, she was really referring to the Clean Air Act and the four criteria pollutants that we have so aggressively addressed since 1992.

Having said that, what is better for the poor and the downtrodden is to have a job. What is better for their health and economic opportunity is to have a job. What also helps is that they have a good paying job that provides great healthcare benefits.

So, from 2015 to 2018, out of the industrialized countries, the United States is the number one reducer of carbon dioxide--number one. We didn't have to do it with all these international accords. We do it through innovation, technology, and advancement.

But carbon dioxide emissions went up last year. That is a known fact. The question is why. Well, Mr. Chairman, we have one of the best economies that I have ever served in in the House of Representatives, where there are help wanted signs all over the place.

As the manufacturing sector grows, there is a need to address these emissions. That is why Republicans continue to look forward to the day when we can join with our Democratic colleagues on conservation, innovation, and adaptation, moving some bills and processes through the floor that will be received well in the Senate and to the President's desk.

I think, rather than focus on the finding, we should debate bipartisan solutions such as boosting research, advanced technologies, and promoting innovation. I ask my colleagues to vote ``no'' on this amendment.

Mr. Chairman, I yield back the balance of my time.


Mr. SHIMKUS. Mr. Chairman, again, to my colleague, and I appreciate it. She has me at a disadvantage because I have a huge ag district, 33 counties in southern Illinois, more pigs than people. I have corn, beans, and the like, so we appreciate this; and we appreciate this amendment because of the voluntary action of it and trying to incentivize and appreciate what our agriculture community has done because, as you know, other proposals out there that are debated in Washington might have some severe effects on agriculture.

I also want to take this time to say we did a lot in the last Congress. I think the misnomer is that if we don't say ``climate change'' and we move good public policy, that we haven't done anything.

Through the House, we passed:

The Energy Efficient Government Technology Act; that was actually voice voted and sponsored by Anna Eshoo from California;

Advanced Nuclear Technology Development Act, Bob Latta from Ohio;

Streamlining Energy Efficiency for Schools Act, which this is another thing we did in the last Congress;

Ozone Standards Implementation Act of 2017, Pete Olson from Texas;

Satisfying Energy Needs and Saving the Environment, the SENSE Act;

Blocking Regulatory Interference from Closing Kilns Act by Bill Johnson;

Responsible Disposal Reauthorization Act of 2017, another bill to reauthorize the West Valley Act.

Of course, I am a proud sponsor, with a huge bipartisan vote, for what was H.R. 3053, which was how do you deal with the nuclear waste provision.

So we actually moved a lot of bills in the last Congress, and many of those bills were in a bipartisan manner.

Yes, we do not carry the mantle of ``Paris'' or ``climate,'' but not everything has to be a subtitle of that major provision, especially if you are doing what we are trying to do in the House, which is bring to the floor bills in a bipartisan manner.

Conservation, that would be like energy efficiency, new source review, forest management practices. Being from Washington State, the gentlewoman understands the forest issues and the concerns that we do more forest management practices. Maybe some of our fires would be less so.

Innovation; advanced nuclear power; carbon capture; utilization; sequestration, which we spoke about in an amendment previously; and also pump storage batteries.

Also, from Washington State, the gentlewoman knows the benefits of hydropower, and if we can pump that water back up and have a continuous cycle, that is a pretty green use of power.

Adaptation, grid modernization, resiliency, and things on GMO crops, crops that can change if the environment is changing, if the growing cycles change. Right now we have drought-resistant corn. We might have to have corn that grows in wetter conditions. That is all part of the adaptation that we need to talk about.

So I appreciate the gentlewoman's amendment and the chance to discuss these issues. I support voluntary action. The idea of this amendment will be better served focusing on examining the costs of these commitments, like some of our Republican amendments try to do, as we move this bill outside of the committee.

I oppose this amendment.

Mr. Chairman, I yield back the balance of my time.


Mr. SHIMKUS. Mr. Chair, I appreciate my colleague bringing that up. I taught high school for 4 years, so education is key.

This whole provision of moving to the Paris accord was done without education of the Members of Congress. It was an executive branch decision.

We can debate whether the President had the authority or didn't have the authority, but we think what happened was that there was not total buy-in. Had it been presented as an agreement or had it been presented as a treaty, it wouldn't have passed either Chamber.

I do agree that education is very, very important. However, I also believe in local control. Republicans will always have a challenge with the Federal Government directing, dictating, and telling our local schools what their curriculum should be.

Mr. Chair, that is why I oppose this amendment. I yield back the balance of my time.


Mr. SHIMKUS. Mr. Chair, we appreciate this amendment. A lot of these amendments are putting the cart before the horse. It would have been interesting to have these debates about resiliency and efficiencies prior to the administration going into the Paris accord. You do the research first and then you make a decision.

Now what we are trying to do is say, okay, we have this Paris accord that the President has stepped away from, so now let's evaluate what impacts are happening.

We did accept an amendment yesterday in this debate to look at both positive and negative aspects, which I think is a fair balance. There are going to be some areas of the country that are going to benefit; there are going to be some areas of the country that are going to be disadvantaged. So I think that is helpful in this debate.

There is a lot of talk about an infrastructure bill coming up. We hope that would be something we would move in a bipartisan manner. I know that it is always going to be asked how to pay for it.

I am willing to make the tough calls on how to pay for it. But in that infrastructure bill, it would be great if the resiliency of communities and these concerns that are being addressed could be wrapped up in something like that.

Again, for this bill, Leader McConnell just said on the floor that they are not going to address it. Even if they did, the President wouldn't sign it.

We will get to a point in time in this Congress when we will work together.

Republicans believe in conservation, innovation, and adaptation. This is part of the adaptation portfolio, and we look forward to working with you as we move forward.

This amendment does nothing to affect CO2 reductions, so I will oppose the amendment.

Mr. Chair, I yield back the balance of my time.


Mr. SHIMKUS. Mr. Chair, again, first of all, I appreciate my colleague, one whom I have gotten a chance to know. I look forward to working with him on some issues down the road.

I want to take this time to kind of reject the premise that nothing has been done. In the debate a little while ago, I mentioned the 15 or 20 bills that had passed the House in a bipartisan manner. These were signed into law, a lot of the hydroelectric extensions in H.R. 2122 and H.R. 2292 to extend the project of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission involving the Cannonsville dam. Hydroelectric power is clean, renewable. I can go through a whole list of things that were done.

As I said in debate earlier, just because we don't put the stamp of ``Paris'' or ``climate change'' on a piece of legislation doesn't mean that it is not going to help reduce our carbon exposure. In fact, our country has the largest reduction of CO2 of any industrialized nation from 2015 to 2018.

Having said that, I also would readily admit, and the Chair has heard me say this many times, that in 2019, our emissions went up. But that was because we have a thriving economy with more manufacturing. So this debate is still very important.

This amendment suggests that the measures that the Obama administration were putting in place to meet the commitments in the Paris Agreement were affordable. A lot of us would reject that premise when you look at the cost per kilowatt hour of major generation, baseload versus the green.

We have always tried to be kind of an all-of-the-above. Actually, in part of my congressional district, which is very large, I have one of the biggest wind farms in Illinois. That is in the Champaign County, Vermilion County, Ford County area in southern Illinois.

Also, solar power. Because of the actions our State General Assembly has done, we have a lot of solar power construction going on in the State of Illinois. An all-of-the-above approach is what we would hope for.

We look forward to the time when this, too, shall pass, this debate on this bill, which will then go to the Senate and die, and then we work back with my friends in the Foreign Affairs Committee. Chairman Engel is also on the Energy and Commerce Committee, so he knows that we will eventually get to the aspect where we can move in a bipartisan manner.

Mr. Chairman, I urge my colleagues to vote ``no'' on the amendment, and I yield back the balance of my time.


Mr. SHIMKUS. Mr. Chairman, I want to make sure I also thank my colleague for his service. I, too, served in the Army infantry during the Cold War. They are a band of brothers, and we do appreciate his service to the country.

Also, I do appreciate that the National Defense Authorization Act, passed in the last Congress, has been helpful. That is another example of, it wasn't couched in climate change, but it was couched in national defense. That is where, again, I will continue to make the arguments and the comments that things have been going on. I don't want to read the first list of bills and stuff that we have passed over the last Congress.

The military is also looking at small modular nuclear reactors in some isolated locations. That will be part of the issues in the innovation area that Republicans could be very, very supportive of. We look forward to having those debates.

I also know forward operating bases of solar technology and of solar power help keep our warfighters prepared and able to communicate. It is just the smart thing to do versus trying to haul crude oil or generators and stuff to places where it would not be in the best interest of our warfighters to have.

So the focus is good. The Republicans, again, believe in conservation, innovation, and adaptation. When we move a bill that will get a chance to be heard by the Senate and that we work together, the goal would be to get something on the President's desk that he will sign. This is not the venue, because the Senate is not going to move it and the President is not going to sign it. But I would encourage my colleagues to stay engaged, not just with the Armed Services Committee, but the Energy and Commerce Committee, and colleagues on this side because I do think there is merit to the debate. Acknowledgement of what the Department of Defense has done was focused on by the previous Commander in Chief.

The Paris climate mandates instituted by the Obama administration through the Paris Agreement and the outdated executive order would have increased energy prices and wasted taxpayer dollars. As a result, we cannot support the amendment that would condone and reinstitute some of these costly measures.

Mr. Chairman, I ask my colleagues to vote ``no'' on the amendment, and I yield back the balance of my time.


Mr. SHIMKUS. Mr. Chairman, I will read into the Record a statement. This is from the International Energy Agency, Global Energy and CO2 Status Report 2018, published March of 2019, so it is pretty much fresh off the press. It addresses some of these issues that I have mentioned during this debate today about how we have been doing things; how, overall, missions are decreasing; and how public policy has helped, and the like.

This is on page 10: ``In the United States, the emission reductions seen in 2017 were reversed with an increase of 3.1 percent in CO2 emissions in 2018.''

That is what we addressed about the economy going up, more CO2 emissions.

``Despite this increase, emissions in the United States remain around their 1990 levels, 14 percent and 800 metric tons of CO2 below their peak in 2000. This is the largest absolute decline among all countries since 2000.''

So I think that is instructive when we are here debating a bill that is not going to be reviewed by the Senate and the President is not going to sign it.

We look forward to working with my colleagues on the Committee on Energy and Commerce on things that we can do to work together to even make better strides than what we already have in this country.

We don't get a lot of credit because we don't couch it in, as I said before, Mr. Chairman, ``climate change,'' ``Paris accord.''

But, you know, facts are important, data is important, and the Energy Information Agency is an independent agency underneath the Department of Commerce, so it is evaluating all countries and all emissions.

Republicans believe in conservation, which would be energy efficiency, new source review, force management, innovation, advanced nuclear power, carbon capture, sequestration, utilization.

To the colleague who brought the amendment up, I don't believe coal will be dead. I think if we bring technology and we use carbon capture, utilization, and sequestration and get it captured, we can still have a coal mining sector. We can still have energy electricity generated by coal. I hope so, because I am from a coal mining region, and I am not going to walk away from the jobs in southern Illinois.

And the adaptation which we have had a lot of debate about today, which is grid modernization, resiliency, crops, and the like.

The amendment of my colleague is opposite to what Dr. Burgess and I tried to do in the committee when we marked up this bill. We wanted to have the research and the analysis done before we go back to a climate agreement.

I mean, what good does it do if you go to an agreement and then you find that jobs have been lost, wages have gone down? It is too late. You are in the agreement.

So let's do the research prior, which was our amendment, Dr. Burgess and I--it wasn't made in order for the floor----to say let's do this research.

So if we are going to move and go back into the climate Paris accord, if we are going to affect jobs in the economy negatively, we should know that beforehand. This amendment does not do that.

Mr. Chairman, I ask for a ``no'' vote on this amendment, and I yield back the balance of my time.