STATEMENT OF SENATOR BARBARA BOXER
Senate Environment and Public Works Committee
Hearing on S. 556, the Clean Power Act
November 1, 2001
* I want to thank the Chairman for holding this hearing. I am a strong supporter of your legislation and was pleased to be an original cosponsor when you introduced the bill last November.
* By requiring power plants to reduce emissions of sulfur, nitrogen, mercury, and carbon dioxide, this bill will lead to important improvements in air quality that will provide great benefits to public health and environmental quality.
* As the debate and discussions about this bill move forward, there are three specific aspects of this bill that I will be watching carefully.
* First, as introduced, this bill is a supplement to existing Clean Air Act regulations, not a replacement for existing protections. It must stay that way.
* I will strongly oppose efforts to use this bill as an excuse to weaken or eliminate existing protections found in Title 1 of the Clean Air Act.
* Second, this bill covers four pollutants. This also must not change.
* A 3-pollutants bill -- one that excludes carbon dioxide as the Administration has suggested -- is not acceptable. Indeed, it is irresponsible. There is no way that we can credibly address power plant emissions without including standards for carbon dioxide.
* The science overwhelmingly shows that climate change is a reality, and we cannot credibly address that problem without reducing carbon dioxide emissions.
* ASome Like It Hot@ may have been a great movie, but it must not become the motto of this country’s environmental policy.
* I would remind my colleagues that the carbon standard this bill sets is a standard that the first Bush Administration committed to meet -- and that the Senate committed to meet when it ratified the United Nations Convention on Global Climate Change. We have done little to fulfill that commitment. This bill would help us to begin to remedy that.
* Third, I understand that there may be some interest in attaching provisions to this bill that would allow power plants to avoid reducing carbon emissions if they create carbon Asinks@-- that literally store carbon in various forms. Forests, for example, serve as a natural repository of carbon.
* I am intrigued by the possibility of a win-win situation that leads to the protection of forests and to a reduction in the amount of carbon in the atmosphere.
* However, many questions remain about the long-term effectiveness of carbon sinks.
* Until those issues can be resolved, I am skeptical that such a provision should be used to exempt utilities from real emission reductions. Instead, perhaps we should promote pilot projects that can test the benefits of so-called carbon sinks.
* Let me make one final point, Mr. Chairman. I expect that we will hear concerns about the expense of these regulations. These are the same arguments that are raised any time a new environmental standard is proposed.
* While I don’t dismiss cost considerations, I believe that the benefits these regulations will bring to human health and the environment are priceless.
* I look forward to working with the Chairman to help move this bill forward as quickly as possible.