Opening remarks, as prepared, of Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Ranking Member Sam Graves (R-MO) from today’s hearing entitled, “The Business Case for Climate Solutions”:
Thank you, Chair DeFazio. We can all agree that we want clean air and clean water for our communities, and that we must prepare for the challenges posed by severe weather events that are happening with greater frequency and intensity.
While “climate change” is often considered to be a loaded issue that sends us all to our respective partisan corners, I can tell you that protecting the environment has bipartisan interest. We have leaders on this Committee who have been working hard to address this issue. And this committee has a bipartisan track record of addressing issues like resiliency and mitigation, which prepares our infrastructure to withstand the impacts of climate change.
Having said that, you will not find bipartisan support for heavy-handed government mandates, one-size-fits-all policies, or the complete upending of our traditional infrastructure programs to enact excessive climate goals that look more like the liberal agenda outlined in the Green New Deal.
We are willing to work with our Democratic colleagues on the goal of reducing emissions in transportation. However, my colleagues must also understand that people are not going to stop driving cars or flying on airplanes.
While dramatically increasing funding for transit and passenger rail – as proposed in last year’s H.R. 2 – may take some cars off the road in urban centers, it is often inefficient and unjustifiable in rural America. Additionally, COVID has completely disrupted our transportation network, and it’s important to see how the system rebalances itself and what our new reality will look like.
Meanwhile, I think there are a couple of key points that help keep things in perspective.
America is the world leader in reducing emissions. According to the International Energy Agency, U.S. emissions reductions in the last 10 years have been the largest in world history. Plus, goods manufactured in the U.S. now are 80 percent more carbon-efficient than the world average.
There are a lot of innovative American companies coming up with solutions to reduce our emissions. It’s important, as we hear from our witnesses about the solutions they have developed on their own, that Congress doesn’t trample on the progress they are making.
We must also keep in perspective that while many of these businesses testifying today are great American companies, they have the resources and manpower to change and adapt more quickly. What works for larger companies may not work for the smaller operators.
The way to lead the world in becoming greener and more resilient is not through unachievable, one-size-fits-all policies or spending trillions on a patchwork of pilot programs. Heavy-handed mandates will only waste money, constrain innovation, and put many of our job-creators out of business.
Instead, incentives that spur American innovation and accelerate what is already being done are the key to achieving our climate goals without taking down the economy and regulating jobs out of existence.
I look forward to hearing from our witnesses today on the unique ways in which each of them is working to find a viable, long-term solution to reducing carbon use and growing American business.
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