Whitfield Discusses Energy & Power Subcommittee Agenda at Ripon Society Forum on America’s Energy Future

Expresses support for “all of the above” energy policy and opposition to a federal clean energy standard

WASHINGTON, DC – In a speech at a Ripon Society energy forum last Thursday, Congressman Ed Whitfield (KY-1) discussed his agenda as Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy & Power, expressing his support for an “all of the above” energy policy and opposition to a federal clean energy standard.

“The energy debate obviously has been going on throughout the history of our country,” Whitfield stated. “But I sort of narrow it down to six words today – ‘fossil fuels bad, green energy good.’ Now I say that not because I have anything against green energy. We all support green energy. We all recognize we have to have green energy. But to be truthful, I think the Obama Administration has oversold green energy.”

“When the Obama Administration came forth with their stimulus package, billions of dollars of that money went for green energy projects. That’s okay, but let’s not mislead the American people to believe that green energy is going to even come close to meeting the demands of electricity in America, which by the year of 2035 is supposed to increase another 40 percent or so. So, I think the Administration is misleading the American people.

“I know now that when they talk about green energy, they don’t talk about it from a perspective of creating energy. They talk about it from a perspective of, ‘This is about creating jobs.’ But as someone who represents a coal state, we’d like to keep our jobs, too. I don’t mind Silicon Valley and California creating their jobs, if they don’t take our jobs away from us. And I don‘t think they can because I don’t think they can compete with fossil fuels for producing energy. That’s why we get upset about so many billions of dollars going for green energy. We do need to continue to spend money for research and development on even cleaner coal, because we still do have a 250-year reserve of coal in America.

“And then when you consider that the Obama Administration recently came out with this pronouncement that they want to reduce the 2005 emissions from generating plants by 87 percent by the year 2035, you almost know that something’s wrong here because that’s kind of complicated, isn’t it? We’re going to reduce the 2005 emissions by 87 percent by 2035. Well, why don’t they just come out and say, ‘We’re going to not allow the tons of emission to not be above this level?’ I think the reason is that if you analyze that, really look at that, what they’re saying is, ‘We’re not going to have emissions greater than what we had in the 1920s.’ Now I would remind you that in the 1920s, only two percent of rural Americans in their homes had electricity. Only 50 percent in all the rest of the country had electricity. We didn’t have any cell phones. We didn’t have any computers. We didn’t have iPods or iPads. So the reality and the possibility of getting that kind of reduction, I think is a pipedream.

“Having said that, I would be the first to say that we need an energy policy of ‘all of the above.’ We need wind power. We need hydropower. We need everything. But this Administration has made it almost impossible to get a permit to mine coal. And anytime you file a permit today to mine coal, build a coal generating plant, the first thing that you’re going to face is a lawsuit. I had a group in yesterday who want to build a $700 million project. They’re filing their permits. They’ve already been sued. And that’s just a course of business, these lawsuits. So that’s one of the reasons also that I think you see Congress trying to reassert itself in the area of environmental protection. Because Congress really has not done very much in that area since 1990, when the last Clean Air Act Amendments were adopted. As a result, many of the decisions made over there have been made by the court system and by unelected officials who work at EPA.

“Even John Dingell said it would be a glorious mess if EPA tried to start regulating greenhouse gases because that act was not designed to regulate greenhouse gases. So the Committee that I’m involved in with Fred Upton and others, we’re having a lot of hearings with EPA. They’re already sick of us and we’re almost sick of them, too. But we’re asking the questions and we’re having a dialogue and we’re going to come forth with a lot of legislation. And we’re going to pass a lot of legislation changing some of the things that they’re doing down there that we believe is not the right thing to do.”

Whitfield made his comments at a forum The Ripon Society hosted on March 3rd focusing on “America’s Energy Future.” In addition to Whitfield, other speakers at the forum included Washington Congressman Doc Hastings, the Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, and North Carolina Senator Richard Burr, a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

Whitfield concluded his remarks by laying out his position on another issue before his committee – the establishment of a federal clean energy standard.

“I’m opposed to it,” the Kentucky Republican declared, “which is probably not a surprise to anybody. But let me give you some of the reasons why. First of all, we have about 25 states that have already adopted them. And I have no objection to states adopting whatever standards they want to about how their electricity is generated. But I noticed also that Arizona and Missouri are already involved in lawsuits. Because when we say that 20 percent of your energy can be generated by renewable by date certain, does that mean generated in the state? Does that mean it can be bought out of the state? Imported into the state? Can you actually build these new capacities by the year 2020? What impact is it going to have on reliability, because you’re going to have to have additional transmission lines? Who’s going to pay for those?

“For the federal government to be jumping in at this time when we haven’t even really determined what the cost allocation should be on new transmission lines — who’s going to pay for them? That’s something that FERC is dealing with right now. So for the federal government just to jump in and say, ‘Okay, by 2020 you have to have 20 percent of your electricity produced from renewables,’ I think is the wrong policy.”

The Ripon Society is a public policy organization that was founded in 1962 and takes its name from the town where the Republican Party was born in 1854 – Ripon, Wisconsin. One of the main goals of The Ripon Society is to promote the ideas and principles that have made America great and contributed to the GOP’s success. These ideas include keeping our nation secure, keeping taxes low and having a federal government that is smaller, smarter and more accountable to the people.