Providing for Congressional Disapproval Under Chapter 8 of Title United States Code, of the Rule Submitted By the United States Fish and Wildlife Service Relating to ``Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Lesser Prairie-Chicken; Threatened Status with Section 4(D) Rule for the Northern Distinct Population Segment and Endangered Status for the Southern Distinct Population Segment''

Floor Speech

Date: May 3, 2023
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. WHITEHOUSE. Madam President, it is a very happy coincidence for me that I get to follow my friend Senator Schatz on this topic to oppose the solar tariff Congressional Review Act effort that has been mounted on the floor because I could not agree more with him that this particular episode playing out here on the floor of the Senate today is part of a larger scheme.

We begin with the fact that across the United States, the solar industry employs a quarter of a million workers. It is a big deal. These are well-paying jobs in an industry that saves families money on their electric bills and decreases our carbon footprint--decreases our carbon footprint. So, of course, fossil fuel forces oppose it, and that is what we are stuck with now.

This fossil fuel attack, through this CRA, if successful, would lead to more than a billion dollars in retroactive duties on American solar companies. It would cost us 30,000 jobs. It would cost us $4.2 billion in domestic investment. It would lead to the cancellation of 4 gigawatts of solar projects. And it would create an increase of 42 million metric tons of CO2. So, of course, the fossil fuel industry is against all of that. It is for the duties. It is against the jobs. It is against the investment. It is against the solar projects. And it couldn't care less about CO2.

The problem that we have here is that we are in a race against time to solve the climate problem before it gets out of hand.

In this town and in this building, one of the most dangerous things that we face is groupthink. The current groupthink is that climate change is a manageable problem; it won't get out of control. I don't believe that to be true. I think climate change is extremely dangerous--dangerous to our economy, dangerous to our ecosystems, and dangerous to our well-being.

We are having hearings in the Budget Committee that showcase some of those dangers--the danger of a coastal property values crash that is going to be worse than the 2008 mortgage meltdown; the danger of a similar property values crash in the West, where wildfire risk will have the same effect on properties; the danger of an insurance meltdown because nature won't let insurance companies predict things any longer safely, so they can't ensure them any longer because they can't predict, and you have a retraction of the insurance market and all of what that means.

Last of all, we have got a huge carbon bubble that we have been repeatedly warned is going to pop. And when it does, U.S. fossil fuel assets will be stranded, their value will go to near zero, and there will be an enormous global economic dislocation.

These are ideas that have been put forward by huge insurance company executives, by Freddie Mac, by people who study the risk in wildfire areas, by the major sovereign banks of the world. Serious grownups are warning of these risks.

Up against those serious grownups, we have the creepy front groups of the fossil fuel industry denial machine continuing to put poison and nonsense into our ecosystem, into our mental and political ecosystem. That has to stop.

Groupthink is dangerous enough. More dangerous, there is a subgroup in the House and in the Senate that has stopped thinking entirely and is just taking marching orders from the fossil fuel industry. The conflict of interest could not be more apparent. It is obvious and plain on its face. Yet the money is there. The political dark money pours in, so they line up and follow them right off the cliff like lemmings. That is even more dangerous than groupthink.

Last, this is not the only game that is being played by our fossil fuel industry folks. One of the other things that we are going to have to continue to work on, and what the SEC is working on right now, is what is called ESG requirements put out by corporations. ESG is environment, social, and governance. What this is, is corporate America deciding that it is really important to its stockholders to make sure they are good citizens and that the likeliest measures of bad citizenship will be bad environmental practice, bad social practice, and bad governance. And so they intend to clean that up. There are experts who have looked at ``e'' and ``s'' and ``g'' to figure out what the best ways are for corporate America to avoid those risks.

Well, all these warnings about what is happening with fossil fuel and with climate change that scientists have known about forever, they are now so real and so immediate that they are within the zone where a fiduciary--a corporation with an obligation to its shareholders, a bank with an obligation to its customers--has to take the climate danger into account.

If you are writing 30-year mortgages, you have got to look out 30 years; and within 30 years, climate looks like it is going to be a nightmare. So this risk is now real. It is on the fiduciary horizon.

The fossil fuel industry can't stand it, so they are trying to break the rules of the market. They are trying to undo ESG. They want the government to intervene in what corporations are doing to protect their shareholders and tell them the truth about market risk consistent with their fiduciary obligations. They want to break every step in that chain to protect their continued ability to pollute.

So watch this ESG nonsense. The anti-ESG, so-called woke corporatism, is a fake. It is a Broadway theatrical production, minus being on Broadway and being in a theater. But it has actors paid for by the fossil fuel industry. It has script writers who are telling them what to say. It has directors and producers who are driving the show behind the scenes. It is an operation. It is a fake. It is a piece of political theater, and we have to be willing to push back against that, because you can't take these kind of chances with the climate risks that we are now facing.

By the way, this objection to ESG, it is never about the ``g.'' It is never about the ``s.'' It is always about the ``e,'' the environmental piece. And within the environmental piece, it is always about carbon emissions. That is a telltale as to who is behind the anti-ESG political operation that is ongoing in America right now.

I hope we have a strong vote to knock this down.

I am delighted that President Biden is going to veto this. This would be self-harm if we were to allow this to happen to our country.