"We cannot afford not to act. We must act now," one expert told lawmakers on Capitol Hill on Thursday. "There is no doubt that the costs and impacts we face are daunting." File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo
Aug. 4 (UPI) -- A Senate committee heard testimony on Thursday about the rising economic costs of climate change as the chamber will soon vote on a Democratic bill that invests billions in various efforts to limit greenhouse gases.
The panel heard from several witnesses and experts on global warming who underscored the importance of mitigating climate change from an economic standpoint.
"Climate change is here. The country knows it," Senate banking committee Chair Sen. Sherrod Brown said in his opening comments.
"The likely impact of climate change could cost people in my state $6 billion a year."
Brown blasted oil companies for making record profits and running up costs while their products are significantly contributing to the warming climate.
"These corporations and their executives have been getting rich by price-gouging consumers and polluting our communities for decades," Brown added, saying that Congress must work to grow a renewable energy economy.
Thursday's hearing came ahead of an expected vote in the Senate next week to pass the Inflation Reduction Act, which invests in climate change efforts and moves to bring inflation down. One of the bill's many provisions mandates that carbon emissions be cut by 40% by the end of the 2020s.
The bill is expected to pass by a narrow margin next week. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., who first opposed the bill, said this week he will vote for it -- giving Democrats the expected support to approve the proposal.
Sen. Pat Toomey, the panel's ranking Republican, spoke against the bill and instead blamed Democrats for inflation -- which is driven in no small part by energy costs. He also defended oil companies.
"They're trying to jam through a 700-page tax-and-spend bill that would pour fuel -- presumably of the carbon neutral kind -- on this fire," Toomey said at the hearing. "I'm not denying global warming. It's undoubtedly real. But what I'm denying is that these policies will have any meaningful effect."
Toomey said the Democratic bill would spend $385 billion in "corporate welfare for politically favored green energy" -- but offered no alternative to fight climate change.
Power a Clean Future Ohio Executive Director Joe Flarida appeared before the committee and said his organization produced a report titled, "The Bill is Coming Due." He said it found that local governments in Ohio will have to increase annual spending by as much as $6 billion per year by the mid-21st century to deal with the costs.
"We cannot afford not to act. We must act now," he told the committee. "There is no doubt that the costs and impacts we face are daunting. But I firmly believe that if we can do it locally, we can solve it globally."
David Butterworth, a business agent for Pipeliners Local Union 798 in West Virginia, told the hearing that he's concerned about the impact on power grid reliability.
"I support efforts to curb climate change, but I do not support curbing climate change when the cost is grid reliability," he said.
"This problem can be solved through hard work and the implementation of moderate policies that benefit the whole rather than the far-right and far-left fringes that continue to divide us."
Butterworth proposed that reformative techniques like carbon capture and hydrogen blending -- using existing pipelines -- could "bring down climate change levels."
President Joe Biden speaks before signing two bills aimed at combating fraud in the COVID-19 small business relief programs at the White House on Friday. Pool Photo by Evan Vucci/UPI | License Photo