Lucas to Emphasize Costs and Legislative Process in Committee Cap & Trade Hearing

Jun 11, 2009

Tamara Hinton (202) 225-0184

WASHINGTON – Ranking Member Frank Lucas will deliver the following statement at today’s full Agriculture Committee hearing on the Waxman-Markey climate change and energy legislation (H.R. 2454). The hearing is scheduled for 2 pm today in 1300 Longworth House Office Building.

“Mr. Chairman, I want to thank you for calling this hearing to review the Waxman-Markey bill. I have said many times before and I will say it again today: the most important thing we can do for our agriculture community is allow the legislative process to work, to take the time to understand the consequences of our actions. There are still many unanswered questions surrounding the Waxman-Markey bill. And yet, we have Speaker Pelosi and Chairman Waxman trying to force it through Congress.

“A thousand-page bill of this magnitude deserves thoughtful consideration and debate. This committee is familiar with that kind of process. After all, we only recently completed a five year reauthorization of the 2008 Farm Bill. Consider that fact for a moment because it offers an important contrast from where we are today.

“For roughly two years, this committee held a series of field hearings across the nation, multiple hearings on specific titles for the farm bill in this very room, and enjoyed bipartisan discussion and collaboration between members. It took us two years to reauthorize a bill that would last five years.

“But, here we are today with our first public hearing to consider a bill that is written to last forever. This is a bill that is enormous in size and consequence that has the potential to permanently damage the standard of living for every man, woman, and child for decades to come. This legislation will span the working lifetime of every young farmer or rancher – with no offramps and no waivers from the negative impacts it will have on rural economies. And yet, this committee will hold one hearing without a markup in sight with the Speaker of the House insisting that this bill be on the House floor for a vote before the July Fourth recess.

“The cap-and-trade part of the bill creates a national energy tax that will do more harm to production agriculture, American industry, and our standard of living than it will do any good for the environment. From higher energy costs to lost jobs to higher food prices, cap-and-trade promises to cap our incomes, our livelihoods, and our standard of living, while it trades away American jobs and opportunities.

“Agriculture is a prime target because it is energy intensive. Just this week, the Heritage Foundation released an economic study on how cap-and-trade will impact farmers. That study revealed that by 2035, the average net income for farmers will decrease by 57 percent. No wonder nearly 50 agriculture and food groups have expressed opposition to the bill with more groups joining the cause every day. They understand that this legislation will destroy their livelihoods.

“Proponents of cap-and-trade, such as Secretary Vilsack, like to claim that agriculture will be a“net winner” when it comes to climate change legislation, but they have failed to provide any numbers to make the case.

“This bill does not specifically recognize the role agriculture can play in providing carbon offsets, and it does not provide a meaningful way for farmers to participate in carbon credit programs.

“I am not convinced that agriculture could ever benefit from a cap-and-trade system. As a lifelong rancher, a student of Agriculture economics, and as the Ranking Member of this Committee, I cannot support a bill that will damage an industry that consistently provides America and the world with an abundant and affordable food and fiber supply.

“And, I cannot support a bill, which despite its magnitude, will be pushed through Congress without any respect for the legislative process. We need more hearings, more outreach, more information, and more understanding about this bill. Instead, Speaker Pelosi is rushing it through Congress to the detriment of all of us.”