The President Needs To Rescind Anti-Climate Executive Order
Even with all the dysfunction in Congress, somehow the American people continue to expect that Washington will enact policies that bear at least some relationship to the challenges they face.
Unfortunately, the Administration’s new Executive Order on energy fails even that low bar.
This order will not expand energy production. It will not make us more energy independent. It will not create more American jobs. And it will also not protect us from the ravages of climate change.
That last point is somewhat less surprising than the first since, because unlike millions of Americans and 99 percent of scientists, this Administration does not believe that climate change is real or that humankind is contributing to it.
To understand where this Executive Order comes from, I think it’s important to see where we were before this Administration took office.
And put simply, the United States was already on track to achieve energy independence.
Our country is producing a tremendous amount of low-cost energy. Since 2008, solar energy production has grown more than 50 fold. Wind power is up three-fold. Oil production in the United States of America is up 75 percent.
In fact, five years ago, we began producing more oil than we import.
And you can see on this chart that over the period of time that the Obama administration was in office, oil production increased while net imports decreased.
This is an important fact considering our geopolitical situation in the world.
We are also producing so much natural gas that facilities built originally to import gas are now being engineered to export it from the United States.
I, along with other members of this chamber, have worked hard to try to make sure those facilities are expedited so we can can get the benefit of that exported gas.
Even before President Trump rode to the rescue with his Executive Order, the Wall Street Journal told us that exports of natural gas could more than double over the next five years just based on what we’re doing already.
We are also using energy far more efficiently in our homes, appliances, and automobiles — which is why the Administration’s action to reverse higher fuel standards last week is so troubling.
I would just say, talk about a solution without a problem.
There’s not a person in Colorado who has said to me, “Michael, you know what we ought to do? We ought to reduce the fuel efficiency standards on automobiles. We ought to create a regulatory environment where the United States can’t sell competitive automobiles in the world.”
Nobody has said that. Because not only are they concerned about climate, they’re concerned that we lead the world when it comes to innovation.
And that Order, just like a budget that cuts the EPA by 30% — that targets the climate scientists at the EPA, that targets the satellites that are above our head so that we can’t see what’s happening on our planet — this is all so we can perpetuate a willful view that climate change doesn’t exist. And it’s the same thing with this Executive Order.
All of the trends that are in place right now — right before this administration took office — have combined to reduce our reliance on foreign energy in recent years, even as our economy has grown and average prices at the pump — because of abundant supply — remain under $2.30.
Now, we are just few years away from exporting as much oil and gas as we import. That’s important for our country.
Colorado has been a huge part of America’s growing energy independence, and by extension, to our national security.
That’s because, in many ways, Colorado led the way in developing a common-sense approach to expanding energy production while ensuring clean air and a healthy planet.
We brought environmentalists together with the oil and gas industry to develop one of the first state limits on methane pollution that became a model for the country.
We passed the first voter-led renewable energy standard in the nation which became a model for the country.
We established our own limits on carbon pollution at the state level.
And in the process, we’ve created 13,000 renewable energy jobs, with wind jobs alone expected to triple by 2020. On average, these jobs pay over $50,000.
This is not some Bolshevik experiment, or some socialist experiment.
These are manufacturing jobs in the United States, and in Colorado, that would not be there had it not been for the policy decisions that were made in this body and in other parts of Washington, D.C. And the supply chain that goes along with those manufactured turbines is critically important to our economy.
And at the same time we were doing all of that, we preserved over 56,000 oil and gas jobs, even as drilling has slowed because, again, of abundant supply.
And that’s to say nothing of the jobs Colorado has created just because it’s a place other people would like to live, because there’s a high quality of life. There’s also a lot of sunshine. I’m pleased to have had the chance to work with the Senator from Nevada to make sure we not only extended the production tax credit with respect to solar energy, but we put language in the legislation together— Republicans and Democrats together — to create an idea that those credits would kick in at the beginning of construction, instead of having to wait until the end. That has made a big difference to our solar industry.
Long ago, the state of Colorado, and I would say many other states, broke past the false choice between our economy and environment.
That is the course we have charted in Colorado, and if the President was serious about energy independence, he would support that approach.
Instead, he is trying to undermine it with this new order. By undoing national standards for carbon pollution, the Order threatens to undercut our thriving clean energy industry.
That is 465 solar and wind businesses across our state, supporting over $8 billion in investment.
And by retreating from the fight against climate change, the Order recklessly endangers Colorado’s $646 billion outdoor recreation industry — not to mention the health of our national forests, which line the banks of some of the most vital watersheds in America.
As the President targets our environment and clean energy economy with this Executive Order, he dressed it up as something good for jobs, as he did during the campaign.
Yesterday, the President stood before a group of coal miners and promised to “cancel job-killing regulations” and “put our miners back to work.”
Just two weeks ago, I was on the Western Slope of Colorado — a region with a number of mining communities.
These communities — some of whom helped invent hydraulic fracturing and directional drilling — know that their challenges have far more to do with low prices and competition from natural gas than from the EPA.
They know that their way of life and the way of life for communities like theirs all across the United States require real solutions to help them grow and diversify their economies.
These communities get it — they understand it — but the President clearly does not.
Just yesterday, the Wall Street Journal ran this article: “Despite Trump Move on Climate Change, Utilities’ Shift From Coal Is Set to Continue.”
According to the article, last year power from coal plants fell while power from natural gas rose 35 percent.
Nationwide, major utilities are shedding coal and increasing natural gas and renewables.
This is the reality of our energy markets and the global economy.
But this Administration, when it comes to energy and when it comes to climate, is not operating in reality. It is operating among political slogans. It is operating in the theater of the absurd, where policies have no relationships to problems, facts don’t matter, and false promises to struggling Americans are just another political tactic to win a cable news cycle.
The American people deserve so much better than that.
Colorado deserves so much better than that.
That is why today I am introducing a bill alongside more than 30 senators to rescind this order, protect American jobs, and preserve our path toward energy independence.
The stakes could not be higher for our kids, our planet, and our economy. We cannot let this stand.
Remarks delivered on the Senate floor on March 29, 2017, regarding President Trump’s Executive Order to reverse several landmark U.S. initiatives to combat climate change.