Senate Environment Committee Wrings Hands; Witnesses Warn Tougher CAFE Standards Would Harm Outdoor Recreation Industry

The National Center for Public Policy Research’s Ryan Balis attended a hearing of the Senate and Environment and Public Works yesterday; one in a series of EPW hearings this year in which Chairman Barbara Boxer brings forth advocates of the “human beings are destroying the planet” climate theory for a public hand-wringing about the supposed problems that will come from global warming.

Interestingly, Senator Boxer has not been holding hearings on what she and her fellow worrywarts propose to do about the problem she would have us believe she is sincerely concerned about.

Hand-wringing is easier than productive work, I suppose. Or maybe limiting hearings to the emission of hot air about global warming is safer politically than pushing legislation that will kill jobs and raise energy prices — as all the global warming proposals I’ve seen from Senator Boxer and her ilk tend to do.

After twelve years in the minority, the Democrats had plenty of time to develop a proposal to combat global warming. Where is it?

Maybe they aren’t so worried about global warming after all…?

Enough editorializing from me. Here’s Ryan’s report:

Yesterday on Capitol Hill, a mostly stacked deck of representatives and other interested parties of the outdoor recreation industry testified before the full Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works on “the potential impacts of global warming on recreation and the recreation industry.”As all too frequently occurs in discussions on climate change, a mostly one-sided, alarmist view was presented. “Outdoor recreation is perhaps one of the first and most obvious aspects of our lives that global warming will touch,” claimed Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), who chairs the committee.

Without offering much in the way of how affected businesses may adapt, as successful businesses must, to a changing environment, the vast majority of witnesses advanced the climate alarmists’ typical theme of fear.

“The economic losses in these industries [because of the impact of climate change] are likely to be in the order of billions of dollars,” estimated Dr. Daniel Scott, Canada Research Chair at the University of Waterloo’s Department of Geography.

Tom Campion, the founder of Zumiez, an outdoor clothing company, testified: “We need to acknowledge that global warming is here, and that it is bigger than any one business sector can handle and deal on their own. And as a country, we need to start dealing with global warming now.”

Missing from most of the witnesses’ testimonies was perspective. As ranking committee member Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) – who did not attend the hearing but prepared a written statement for the record – pointed out, the history of the Earth is one of continuously changing weather patterns.

“The fact that climate fluctuates – changes – is nothing new, and should not be feared,” said Senator Inhofe. “It has always changed, and unless the processes of the planet suddenly stopped, it always will.” Inhofe pointed out that the Rocky Mountain region experienced record snow levels this past winter, and, though June is approaching, the Colorado Mountains are currently under a snow advisory. “A healthy functioning planet means constant changes in our climate.”

Furthermore, Inhofe cautioned that legislative “solutions” that attempt to blunt the impact of climate change are the true threat to the recreation and travel industries.

“[T]he most verifiable threat to the recreation and travel industry is the unintended consequences of misguided government policy and environmental activists. The chilling effect of guilt that the climate alarmists are attempting to instill in Americans for owning four wheel drive vehicles, flying in an airplane and enjoying travel is enough to harm the industry.”

Also urging caution were Derrick Crandall, president of the American Recreation Coalition, and Barry McCahill, president of the SUV Owners of America.

Crandall testified: “The reality is that a reasonably fuel-efficient SUV – or even a large motorhome – gets more passenger miles per gallon when occupied by a family than does even the most fuel efficient car available today when occupied solely by a driver. And the benefits to the nation are large.”

McCahill focused on SUV’s important role for towing recreational vehicles such as boats, and warned of the harsh impact on recreationists if corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) mandates are further increased: “This lifestyle, along with boating, horse shows and many other forms of outdoor recreation, could disappear if fuel economy mandates are pushed to the extreme – or at minimum a luxury that only the wealthy could continue to enjoy.”

To contact author Ryan Balis directly,
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The National Center for Public Policy Research is a communications and research foundation supportive of a strong national defense and dedicated to providing free market solutions to today’s public policy problems. We believe that the principles of a free market, individual liberty and personal responsibility provide the greatest hope for meeting the challenges facing America in the 21st century.