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tv   [untitled]  CSPAN  June 11, 2009 10:30am-11:00am EDT

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say. it is supposed to help the men and women serving in iraq and afghanistan as they pursue an evil enemy. to try to instill dy and freedom in these countries. if these photos made public it will harm their effort and public their lives in danger. madam president, i urge my colleagues to join me in opposing a bill that would eliminate the provision that prevents these photos from being published. i call on the president today to relieve this pressure and declare by executive order that these photos are classified and not to be released to the world's public. madam president, i yield the floor.
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madam president, i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming. a senator: madam president, the house of representatives is prepared to pass the -- the presiding officer: the senate is in a quorum call. mr. barrasso: i ask unanimous consent the call of the quorum be suspended. i ask unanimous consent the call of the quorum be suspended. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. barrasso: the house of representatives is prepared to pass the energy tax, the american clean energy and
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security act. the act, therefore; known as american clean energy and security act -- acs. that is the right thing to call this bill because it gambles, it gambles with the future of the american people. in blackjack, the dealer might have an ace that's showing but one card in the dealer's hand is always hidden. in this case, the hidden card is the card that shows the real costs of this bill to the american taxpayer. what the taxpayer doesn't know is that the game is rigged. the taxpayer is going to lose no matter how many times the majority adds to this hand another give away to special interests, another tax break to offset the monumental costs of this bill, the end will be just the same: the taxpayer goes bupt
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and washington will win. aces is the property of a supermajority that the democrats have in the house of representatives. given the rules and procedures of the house of representatives, reasonable amendments are going to be defeated or even blocked from ever being considered. the final product will not be a real starting point to begin this debate on climate change. aces is going to have a devastate the effect on our economy. and we will see there will be no environmental benefit if doing this bill. none. now, that's not just my belief. it's not my assessment alone. it is also the belief of the others. martin feldstein, noted harvard economist, recent "washington post" editorial, an article, "aces will have a trivialally small effect on global warming and imposing substantial costs
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on all american households." how bigger the costs? well, he cites the congressional budget office that estimated the rutting increase in consumer prices needed to achieve, just a 15% reduction in carbon dioxide, less than the target of this bill would raise the cost of living 1,600 a year, every year, for every family in america. that's a $1,600 tax on every american family every year. the heritage foundation predicts the "aces" approach could cost the economy $9.6 trillion and more than a million lost jobs into the future. these are just the raw numbers. the real potential for economic pain goes much further. david solker points out "aces"
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could be a bonanza for more wall street corruption and more wall street greed. "aces" will deal in investment banks, it will deal in hedge funds and deal in other speculator whose want to speculate in the cap and trade market. he points out "if you like what credit default swaps did to our economy you will love cap and trade," and the house bill allows for credit default swaps. he is not even alone. british scientists james lebercock, a noted chemist and environmentalist stated in january carbon trading with its huge government subsidies is just what the finance industry wanted. he went on to say "it will make a lot of money for people in the financial industry and it will postpone the moment of reckoning."
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carbon marks can always cause huge fluctuations. we can look to europe as an example of what we saw happen. in february of this year the financial times wrote an article entitled "fall in carbon dioxide price a risk to green investment." it seems the price of carbon in the european union fell so low that it's no longer even providing an incentive to lower the use of carbon. so those are things happening not just for this country but around the world. another problem is the huge economic gamble that "aces" makes by bypassing cheap are low-carbon fuels by relying on unreliable expensive energy. this mandates by 2020 the electric utilities meet 20% of their electricity demand through renewable energy sources and energy efficiency. well, this is the wrong approach. we need an "all of the above"
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strategy to accuracy our energy needs and make america's energy as clean as we can, as fast as we can, without raising energy prices for american families. that's how you create and that's how you then sustain economic development. so i'd say, let's develop all of our energy sources -- wind, solar, geothermal, hydro, clean coal, natural gas, nuclear -- all energy sources. our nation is so blessed with abundant energy resource, they are here for us to use in a clean and environmentally friendly way. coal is cheap and abundant in america. it's what's keeping our energy today afford an. uranium is abundant, too. let's develop that, and develop all renewable energies, wind, solar, hydropower, we need it all. as lisa jackson, the director of
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the environmental protection agency said while in my home state of wyoming: "as a home of wind, coal, and natural gas, wyoming is at the heart of america's energy future." that's because wyoming has it all. it has the cool, wind, natural gas and uranium. it has it all and we need it all. the bottom line, madam president, is the democrats cap and tax bill costs jobs and raises energy prices. i don't understand can we can't make america's energy as clean as we can as fast as we can without raising energy prices on american families. the administration wants to take a different approach. why are the american people being given this stacked deck? where all of the options hurt the economy, raise energy prices, and cost jobs. the president says we need green
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jobs. i agree. we also need red, white and blue jobs: american energy, american energy sources. the reality is, this heart dan energy tax -- this partisan energy tax bill passing in the house a bad bet for all of us. we shouldn't double down with anymore taxpayer money to bail out the climate through an energy tax. thank you, madam president. i yield the floor. i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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the presiding officer: the senator from kansas. mr. roberts: thank you, madam president. i ask unanimous consent the call of the quorum be dispensed. .the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. roberts: i understand we're in morning business and i would ask unanimous consent i
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may be recognized for about 12 minutes. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. roberts: thank you, madam president. madam president, i rise today to discuss an issue and this is one of these believe it or not issues of waste and abuse concerning millions of tax dollars and stimulus funding. i've got some good news and then i've got some bad news. to report. first the good news. in the last 24 hours, we have been able to reverse a policy that would have used stimulus money to pave the same roads twice within a matter of months. now, i said yesterday, that just didn't pass the kansas commonsense test, or, for that matter, any state's commonsense test, and would be a huge abuse of taxpayer dollars. well, we have reversed this plan, this silly plan, in a bipartisan way, and i want to personally thank vice president biden, the man charged with
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overseeing all of the stimulus spending, for taking action to correct this abuse after i contacted him. and i really to want thank the vice president, because the white house moved and the vice president moved to an expeditious fashion that i, quite frankly, didn't expect that they could move that fast but they got the job done. the vice president will be in kansas today and i asked him to review this rather ridiculous example of wasteful spending occurring in cherokee county, kansas, just a short two-hour drive south on u.s. 69 highway from where the vice president will be. you see, a section of old highway 96 would have been resurfaced with stimulus funds. then portions of an e.p.a. superfund site would have been cleaned up with stimulus funds and the heavy equipment used for the cleanup would have damaged the newly resurfaced highway so they'd have to go back in and do
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the highway over again. this -- once cleanup was complete, additional stimulus funds would have gone to repair road damage caused by the heavy trucks. now, mr. president, taxpayers would have paid almost a million dollars to fix this road twice. fortunately, in working with the vice president and the media, we now have media reports that the superfund cleanup will now occur prior to any roadwork. so that's the good news, and, again, i credit the vice president and his staff and his team. now for the bad news. while this spending issue has been fixed, there is a much larger spending issue affecting dozens of kansas families in cherokee county, kansas, and that is still a major problem. and i'm going to urge the vice president to again provide leadership on this. he is the self-proclaimed new sheriff in town.
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i am an honorary sheriff of dodge city, kansas, my hometown. so from one sheriff to another, i would simply say to the vice president, sheriff, i'll ride shotgun or you can ride shotgun. we have the problem only half solved. you see, in april, e.p.a. region 7 issues a press release saying cherokee county would receive up to $25 million from the stimulus. according to the press release, by starting or speeding up cleanup at superfund sites, the stimulus funding is also increasing the speed with which these sites are returned to productive use. when a superfund site is redeveloped, it can offer significant economic benefits to local communities, including future job creation. well, unfortunately, for fewer than 100 residents living in the city of treece -- t-r-e-e-c of
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e -- treece, the stimulus funding for this project is literally going down a sinking hole. the city of treece, kansas, sits on the kansas-oklahoma border. this small rural community was once a world leader in lead and zinc mining, mining that lasted for nearly 100 years. as the mining companies shut down in the 1970's, the ground water began to rise and the pillars that supported the soil above the mine shafts began to collapse and you had a giant sink hole. shortly thereafter, in 1983, to be exact, the e.p.a. placed over 500 square miles in southeast kansas, northeast oklahoma, and southwest missouri on the national priorities list of the superfund list, including the city of treece. in total, cherokee county, kansas, where treece is located, has 115 square miles in the superfund program. now, last summer during a
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listening tour of this part of kansas, i saw firsthand how 100 men and women and children are living in absolute blight. they live day by day not knowing when -- and i mean when, not i if -- their homes will collapse into the earth, into the earth below into a giant sink hole. they remain there despite the loss of businesses and infrastructure because their homes have no market value and they cannot sell them to find -- or to fund a new home or even rent one. as parts of cherokee county have been on the superfund list for the last 26 years, the e.p.a. has been removed and replaced contaminated topsoil. and according to their stimulus press release, the e.p.a. will continue to remove lead-contaminated residential soil at more than 380 acres in baxter springs and treece. now, this probably sounds like
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an admiral thing to do, but as the ground below it caves in, it exposed -- the exposed soil that has not been cleaned up will rise and essentially this is a never-ending process. so you're cleaning up topsoil on top of a sink hole that after the sink hole sinks, obviously the topsoil is going to be contaminated with the contaminated soil underneath the new topsoil. now, if you can get all that, why, i think you've got the problem. this is a never-ending process. now, i've worked very long and hard with other members of the kansas delegation to determine how best to address this situation, and the only satisfactory answer anyone has been able to give me is to relocate the town to protect the residents from a complete cave-in. the federal government needs to buy out the land and -- from the remaining home and business owners and then prohibit any future construction on the property affected by the
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contamination. this is exactly what we did with pitcher, oklahoma, on the other side of the state line just a few years ago. most estimates indicate we could relocate the entire town with $3 million in federal funding and $500,000 in state funding, funding the state of kansas has already set aside. during the previous congress, i introduced legislation to address the federal portion of this funding. fast forward to today, with an economy experiencing a lot of turbulence and a so-called stimulus bill that everyone in this body heard was an absolute necessity and not only a job maintainer but a job creator. so i asked the e.p.a. to use $3 million of already allocated stimulus funding to relocate the community. $3 million. i was told no. so instead of solving this problem and relocating the families of treece to a safe
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community, the e.p.a. over the next few months, with assistance of the stimulus package, intends to continue to spend even more money, $25 million -- $25 million -- eight times the amount needed to relocate the community, the hundred people that live in blight, in fear that their homes will sink into a sink hole. to put new soil -- new soil, this is what they're currently going to do -- on to contaminated soil which will then collapse and recontaminate all of the soil -- this just doesn't make any sense. i have had an ongoing dialogue with e.p.a., and in a recent response to a letter i sent, they told me, "the wastes are causing great environmental harm to southeast kansas." we, of course, knew that. "as evidenced by the documented impacts of birds, fish, mackerel, mussels, invert brats and horses. there is also evidence of harm to humans as it is related to
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elevated blood lead levels." and the letter won't to say, "e.p.a. region 7 believes the situation at the adjacent e.p.a. region 6, tarquique superfund site in oklahoma, materially differs from the cherokee county superfund site and that is what drives different cleanup decisions for the tar creek site." i'm going to refer to a couple of charts here, and this is a picture of treece, kansas, located right here. you can see all of these white objects here, and basically that is the material, the chat material that has come out of many, many mines over a hundred years. and here is treece, kansas, and here is picher, oklahoma. and here is a giant chat pot inbetween -- and i have been there -- you see many little ponds and many little winding roads. and i would advise you not to go fishing in any of those ponds. you may cash a three-eyed fish.
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at any rate, this is all contaminated. it is all a sink hole, whether it's from treece, kansas, in region 7 in kansas city with the e.p.a., or whether it's picher, oklahoma, in region 6 in dallas. i don't know what the difference is. if this is contaminated -- and it is -- and this is contaminated and looks the same -- and it is -- what the heck is the difference? let me show you another angle so you can appreciate what i'm talking about. this is what the people of treece see every day as the sun rises and sets. this is a giant chat mountain. all of this contaminated soil. this side of the chat mountain is treece. the other side is oklahoma. same situation, same problem, same contaminated soil, same sink hole and the same thing on the other side, except e.p.a. 7 in kansas city can't get it through their heads that this is identical to the same problem over here.
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and instead of spending $25 million to clean up and put topsoil on contaminated soil that will sink, why can't we spend $3 million to save a community of treece and relocate these people? so basically e.p.a. section 7 does not have factual basis, quote, according to them, that would allow the use of regular or stimulus funds for a residential buyout at the treece subsite. why? why? we were going to spend money for a road to be built twice. we're spending $25 million to put topsoil on a sink hole. why can't we spend $3 million to relocate this town? now, here's my question. e.p.a. acknowledged there is evidence of harm to humans. to humans. and they listed a whole series of other animals and wildlife and so on and so forth that they're worried about, and i understand that. but why not provide assistance to relocate fewer than 100 people from harm's way?
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furthermore, e.p.a. told me a ten-year time frame is estimated for complete waste remediation due to the -- due to the continual mine collapses. i wonder if environmental cleanup will ever be completed. now, mr. president -- madam president, i think it is in the best interest of all taxpayers to quit throwing money down sink holes and provide an opportunity for 100 folks who have no other options to move as their homes are worth nothing. mr. president -- madam president, we don't need to spend, again, $25 million on a problem that won't be solved, topsoil on top of the sink hole. we need to take care of these people and spend $3 million to let them get on with their lives. while american taxpayers are spending untold millions to prevent mortgage collapses, i can see no better use for this stimulus plan than to get the residents of treece into safe homes. now, i said once before, i'm an
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honorary sheriff of dodge city, have a badge. you can go to dodge city and you can meet the marshal, you can see miss kitty, you can go down to the longbranch and so we're used to talking care of -- taking care of problems ourselves. kansas has appropriated $500,000 to do this. all we're asking for is $3 million, want the $25 million that i don't think is going to ever really result in any long-term cleanup. you have to there be to really realize just how bad this is and the pools of water and the little -- and people will tell you, senator, we're going to take you around this. don't walk this way. the presiding officer: senator, your time has expired. mr. roberts: i would ask for one additional minute. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. roberts: thank you very much. so i would just ask sheriff joe, who is the self-declared sheriff on the stimulus money, help me out here, ride sidesaddle or you can just drive the stage. help me get 3 million bucks. you've already stopped the
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ridiculous situation of building a road twice after we have destroyed it with stimulus money. that's a good thing. that's the good news. but the rest of the story is that the citizens of treece need to be relocated, and we can do this for 3 million bucks. this remains an awful way to treat any community and i think it is not a wise use of taxpayer money. it is not -- it does not pass the commonsense smell test. i yield the floor. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from colorado. a senator: madam president, i rise today to discuss the urgent need of health care reform. the people of colorado and the american people have waited too long for washington to act. we should begin with the basic principle. if you have coverage and you like it, you should keep


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