“We have exceeded reductions in the United States more so than the next 12 countries combined.”

By on March 11, 2020 in Featured News, News

Graves & Carter Applaud U.S. Reduction in Carbon Emissions, and Discuss Need for Additional Common Sense Steps to Combat Climate Change

WASHINGTON, DC – Two GOP leaders of the House Select Climate Committee appeared yesterday morning before a breakfast discussion of The Ripon Society, where they discussed why it is important for Republicans to put forward common sense solutions to address climate change, and the approach and principles they are getting behind in that regard this year.

The leaders were Congressman Garret Graves, who represents the 6th District of Louisiana and serves as the Ranking Member of the Climate Committee, and Congressman Buddy Carter, who represents the 1st District of Georgia. Graves kicked off the discussion with remarks that laid out not only the steps the U.S. has already taken in recent years to address climate change, but why some of the Far Left proposals go too far.

“You’ve heard other people talk about addressing this issue through ideas like the Green New Deal,” Graves stated, referring to the plan pushed by some Democrats that, as one report estimates, would eliminate over five million jobs and cost the average American family $165,000. “That would be a huge change in the energy structure of the United States. Before we look at whether we need that type of big change, I think it’s important to take a look at exactly what’s going on right now.”

With that, Graves pointed to a series of detailed Power Point slides illustrating what the U.S. has accomplished with regard to combatting climate change without government mandates over the past several years. These accomplishments include leading the world in reducing carbon emissions between 2005 and 2017, and cutting emissions beyond the level that would have been mandated had the Waxman-Markey “cap and trade” bill that House Democrats approved in 2009 gone into effect.

“We have exceeded reductions in the United States more so than the next 12 countries combined,” the Louisiana lawmaker declared. “Don’t take it from me,” he added, pointing to a statistic on one of the slides, “In the last 10 years, the emissions reduction in the United States has been the largest in the history of energy, and that is from the Director of the International Energy Agency. So it’s not even close … Giving the free market a chance to operate, allowing for innovation to dictate how this works as opposed to allowing for winners and losers to be chosen by Congress, results in better outcomes.”

Graves also explained why the President’s decision to stay out of the Paris Climate Accords not only served the interests of the environment, but kept the United States from being placed at a competitive disadvantage to China in the end.

“Under the Paris Accords,” he observed, “emissions have gone up, not down. As a matter of fact, for every one ton of emissions reductions in the United States, China has increased emissions by four. So for every one ton we’ve reduced, China’s gone up four. China today emits more than the United States, the European Union, and Japan combined.”

“China under the Paris Accords is being viewed as being a developing nation. My argument would be any nation that goes out and spends, not millions, not billions, but trillions of dollars in defense and infrastructure investments around the globe should not be considered a developing nation. And so I think that them being allowed to continue increasing emissions under the Paris Accords through 2030 is absurd.”

Carter agreed, and began his remarks by talking about his desire to join the climate change panel when it was established last year.

“I wanted to serve on this committee,” he stated. “I have the honor and privilege of representing the 1st Congressional District of Georgia. It includes the entire coast of Georgia, all the way from South Carolina down to the Florida state line. Over 110 miles of coastline — pristine coastline — and it’s very important.”

“On the coast of Georgia, three out of the last four years we’ve seen major weather events. We’ve seen hurricane Matthew, Michael, and Irma, and we barely missed Dorian. So we’ve seen the impact that it can have. We’ve also seen the impact on the coast with rising sea levels.”

In the face of these changes, Carter said he believed Congress must follow an approach to policymaking that was geared around achieving three broader goals — mitigation, adaptation, and innovation.

“A third of all the marshland on the Atlantic seaboard is in the state of Georgia,” he noted, referring to one of the challenges the people he represents face. “Now, if you build a house on a slab next to the marsh, guess what? It’s probably going to flood at some point. We have got to adapt to that kind of thing. We’ve got to be smarter now. We’ve got to have in our building codes where you got to build those houses up. That only makes sense.”

Referring to another challenge in his state, he continued:

“We have a number of barrier islands on the coast of Georgia. One of those barrier islands is Tybee Island. Well, Tybee Island has one road, the only road that goes to that island. We’re in the process of rebuilding that road now. That road floods five to six times a year, not because of rain, but because of high tides and it has to be shut down. It has to be closed because of the rising sea level, because of high tides. Now that we’re rebuilding that road, we need to build it up. We need to be smart. We need to adapt to what’s going on. So that’s very important.”

At the same time, the Georgia Republican added, Congress needs to make sure that jobs continue to be created and the economy continues to grow.

“We’re never going to make it through this unless we have the private sector — both companies and individuals — helping us with this and investing in this, putting the capital forward with this. We can only do that if we have a booming economy. So we need to keep our economy strong, which is just the opposite of what the Green New Deal is going to do. The Green New Deal is going to destroy our economy. We all understand that, so we need to do just the opposite. We need to keep a strong economy.”

Carter concluded by pointing to another area he is working on that would help both the environment and the economy of his home state.

“Georgia is the number one forestry state in the country,” he stated. “One of our favorite sayings down in South Georgia is that when you breathe fresh air, get on your knees and thank the farmer who grew the trees.”

To that end, Carter said, he has authored legislation that would protect timber land owners in times of catastrophic loss. Called the Forest Recovery Act, the measure would allow individuals or businesses growing timber for sale to take a tax deduction up to the fair market value lost after a catastrophic event. Farmers would then be required to reforest within five years to gain the deduction.

In keeping with the spirit of the Forest Recovery Act, Carter brought along a box full of Georgia pine seedlings, which he presented to Graves and all who attended yesterday’s event. He also brought along another member of Congress who is a cosponsor of the measure and the author of his own bill to replenish America’s forests, as well.

The member was Congressman Bruce Westerman, who represents the 4th District of Arkansas and who recently introduced the Trillion Trees Act, which would plant 1 trillion trees globally by 2050 and incentivize the use of wood products as carbon sequestration devices.

“Trees are an important part of addressing climate issues,” Westerman stated. “If you look at the 411 parts per million of carbon that’s in the atmosphere right now, the number one, best, most pragmatic, proactive, and large-scale approach to removing the carbon are trees. There’s nothing that even comes close.”

To view the remarks of Graves, Carter, and Westerman before the Ripon Society breakfast discussion yesterday morning, please click on the link below:

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.

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