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Keith R.
Republican PA 12

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  • Importance of Abundant Energy

    by Representative Keith J. Rothfus

    Posted on 2015-12-08

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    ROTHFUS. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members may have 5 legislative days in which to revise and extend their remarks and include extraneous materials on the topic of my Special Order.

    The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the gentleman from Pennsylvania? There was no objection.

    Mr. ROTHFUS. I want to take a little time this evening to take a different look at American energy, Mr. Speaker. As many of you know, one of my core convictions is the importance of upholding the dignity of human life. Our task here in Washington should be to promote ideas and policies that allow people to live longer, healthier, and more rewarding lives.

    It is in that spirit that I have joined with my fellow Pennsylvanian, Representative Kelly, and like-minded colleagues to host tonight's Special Order.

    Starting last week, world elites gathered in Paris to negotiate climate change commitments and promises that, if enacted, could undo generations of human progress, progress that has provided us with the affordable and reliable energy necessary for humans to truly flourish.

    I am here tonight to tell another side of the story, one that abandons the dogma of scarcity put forward by elites in Paris and climate change zealots in Washington. I want to shift this debate to focus on the remarkable story of human abundance. Affordable, reliable energy has been responsible for helping to improve and prolong the lives of billions of people around the world.

    Energy powers our businesses. It keeps the lights on in our homes. It allows us to have fresh food and clean water. It powers our schools and our hospitals. Energy is in many respects a life or death matter. It is a moral issue, and it deserves more careful consideration than it has been given by the President.

    I would like to highlight a little bit, just taking a look at some charts. In taking a look at what has been happening with the use of energy, a lot of the energy we get is carbon-based fossil fuel energy, whether it is coal, oil, natural gas. Yes, it has increased in recent history.

    What also has happened in recent history? As CO2 emissions have gone up, so has the wealth of this world and of this country. As the population has gone up, so has energy use. What is really striking, Mr. Speaker, is taking a look at how the increase in life expectancy has coincided with this energy revolution as well. As you can see, for much of human history, our lives were short, miserable, and lacking in fulfillment.

    Consider that, until the industrial revolution, people lived 27 years, on average, earned little money, and faced limited opportunities. Again, though CO2 has increased, so has incredible wealth, lifting billions of people out of poverty and life expectancy.

    The point now is, in the United States, the average life expectancy is near 80 years old. As people learned to access the bounty of energy available, we turned it to our advantage. As we got better at it, incomes and populations soared.

    This is another interesting chart, Mr. Speaker. As we look at the use of world energy, just going back over the last 30 years, the bottom line is energy use. The top line is the world GDP, the increase in wealth that we have seen coinciding with this increase in energy. You could take a look at some specific countries and see how energy has benefited them.

    In China and India, both of which have industrialized and increased energy use over the last generation, life expectancy has increased by more than a decade. Infant mortality has plummeted by 70 and 58 percent, respectively, in China and India. This is all correlated with increased energy use and the availability of affordable energy resources.

    As Alex Epstein argues in ``The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels,'' hundreds of millions of people have gotten their first light bulb, their first refrigerator, their first decent-paying job.

    With all of our world problems, affordable energy has helped make this the brightest, most abundant time in human history. Some disparage the story as one of unseemly consumption and excess. I see it as a tremendous triumph of human ingenuity and a victory for those who put human well-being as our top priority.

    We can tell the same story about Western Pennsylvania, where, once again, we are witnessing increasing prosperity attracted by affordable and reliable energy. This entails better opportunities for Pennsylvania's youth and a better quality of life. That is why I am so troubled by the President's actions at home and in Paris.

    In negotiating a global compact, which will likely entail further restrictions on our access to energy, the President is unknowingly endangering our future well-being. By not taking his plans to Congress for approval, as should be the case with a treaty, the President is ignoring the will of the American people.

    This is not a trivial point. The American people will be denied the opportunity to weigh in on something that will drastically impact their daily lives. Remember, the President said when he was a candidate in 2008 that electricity rates will necessarily skyrocket under his plan.

    All of this comes in addition to heavy burdens that the American people are already grappling with. The so-called Clean Power Plan is an example. By forcing more power plant closures and placing stricter requirements on those that remain, the President's plan will raise energy prices by $289 billion through 2030, hurting American families and businesses large and small.

    Research suggests that we will see 224,000 fewer American jobs being created each year because of this rule. We will also see reduced disposable income and weaker economic growth.

    Minority communities will be especially hard-hit. A study from the National Black Chamber of Commerce found that the Clean Power Plan would increase poverty among African Americans by 23 percent and Hispanics by 26 percent. This is unacceptable, and it is immoral.

    Real people will be hurt by these actions. Yet, few in Washington seem to be caring about these real human costs. That is why I have introduced a bill called the Fair Burdens Act. This bill would prevent the burden from endangering our prosperity and well-being until the EPA can verify that a sufficient number of countries have enacted similarly stringent policies.

    In other words, the Fair Burdens Act would ensure that Americans aren't made to needlessly suffer and that our jobs aren't forced overseas, as the President unilaterally slows the American economy.

    We can't just rely on legislation. We need to change the narrative and educate the public. Affordable, reliable energy is a vital ingredient for human prosperity and well-being. Ignoring this fact and taking ill-conceived policy actions as a result condemns millions of Americans and billions around the world to dimmer futures, higher energy costs, and less prosperity. We owe it to our constituents to defend their ability to live fulfilling, prosperous lives.

    I want to thank my colleagues who have joined me here tonight to do just that. I yield to the gentleman from Pennsylvania (Mr. Kelly).

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