Ranking Member Steve Womack (R-AR) Opening Remarks at Hearing Entitled: The Costs of Climate Change: From Coasts to Heartland, Health to Security

As Prepared For Delivery:

Thank you, Chairman Yarmuth, for holding this hearing. This is the second opportunity we have had this year to discuss climate change. I am hopeful that we can examine commonsense solutions that balance environmental challenges with our nation’s economic needs and budgetary reality.

When this Committee met last month, we heard testimony about the impacts of the changing climate. While we have our differences on how to address this issue, one thing was made clear to me: we recognize a responsibility to support sustainability and the energy needs of the future.

Now, Mr. Chairman, I recall at our last hearing on this topic, you wanted to discuss a full range of solutions to climate change – not only the Green New Deal – and I couldn’t agree more.

While the Democrats’ prevailing plan – the Green New Deal – has the support of nearly 100 members of the Caucus – 12 of whom serve on this Committee – and bears a $93 trillion price tag, Republicans are focused on serious solutions that leverage innovation and American ingenuity to address our challenges.

We support strategies that take action against harmful emissions without disrupting the economy and burdening hard-working Americans with new taxes and mandates. By being good stewards of the environment and advancing an all-of-the-above energy plan, we can support productivity and sustainability for the future.

Meanwhile, The Green New Deal would impose drastic, impossible energy mandates that would eradicate jobs and entire industries.

Congress should focus on policies that build on our successes and create a robust innovation pipeline – not sweeping overhauls that stifle competition and economic progress, add trillions more to our debt, and destroy sectors of our economy.

We should break down regulatory barriers that hamper research and development and encourage investments into current and emerging technologies, including carbon capture, renewable hydropower, nuclear power, and energy storage.

The United States is at the forefront of clean-energy efforts, and we must continue to leverage current capabilities. Nuclear power generation – which accounts for 20 percent of our nation’s power supply – is a great example of technology that is fueling the U.S., creating jobs, growing our economy, and reducing our environmental impact.

We should double-down on efforts that promote increased private-sector development of next-generation nuclear technology. Policies like the bipartisan H.R. 1760, the Advanced Nuclear Fuel Availability Act, which passed the House last Congress and was reintroduced this March by my colleague Mr. Flores from Texas, will help us do just that.

Resuming the nuclear waste storage program at Yucca Mountain, which I visited last July, can also help to ensure more nuclear plants don’t close for lack of a waste repository. With 340 of my colleagues, the House passed the Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act last year. Nuclear energy is important to both our power supply and addressing climate change – and I hope that House leadership will bring this bill to the floor to move forward on this critical nuclear waste storage program.

Pursuing other available resources such as natural gas will also allow us to take advantage of more efficient, cleaner, and economical energy options. Carbon capture technology will make this source even cleaner. My colleague from Texas, Mr. Crenshaw, recently introduced H.R. 3828, the LEADING Act of 2019, bipartisan legislation that prioritizes funding for research and development for technology to capture carbon emissions. I am pleased to support this bill as well.

American ingenuity has solved many challenges, and I applaud my colleagues for pushing effective policies that maintain and accelerate our clean energy edge on multiple fronts.

So, as we examine the ideas in front of us today, I encourage my friends on the other side of the aisle to consider the solutions that have been put forward by my colleagues. These proposals are bipartisan, viable, cost-effective alternatives to the radical Green New Deal.

It is my hope that we can come together to support market-based solutions that make clean energy more affordable and reliable, create jobs, and address climate change challenges.

Mr. Chairman, I look forward to hearing from our witnesses today, and I yield back.