For every year that goes by without Congress or the President making a serious effort to reduce greenhouse gases, the odds increase that my grandchildren are going to inherit a warmer and more chaotic world.
A recent study by scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology calculates that there is a one in four chance that the world will warm between 5 and 7 degrees Fahrenheit in the next hundred years. I don't like those odds at all. Not when we're talking about the future. I hope we're going to spend more time on this complicated subject than the Committee has to date. The Committee hasn't looked at this matter directly for over two years.
Our Committee has a responsibility and the jurisdiction to develop legislation that reduces manmade emissions that cause or have the potential to cause harm to the environment and public health. It is far past time for this Committee to do its duty and produce some proposals.
I hope we can work together to develop bipartisan legislation to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. I understand that my colleagues have been put in a difficult position by the President's decision to reverse his campaign promise on reductions of carbon dioxide from power plants.
But, it's time for leadership and progress. I would like this Committee to be the laboratory of new bipartisan initiatives for cutting greenhouse gases. We will just have to hope that the Administration is equally interested in such progress.
There has been a lot of talk about voluntary versus mandatory requirements to reduce these gases. My colleagues know that the nation has a Senate-ratified commitment to reduce emissions to 1990 levels. That was to have been accomplished through voluntary measures. Unfortunately, we have failed miserably using voluntary means. We're now about 13% above our target.
So, what we need is a comprehensive approach that achieves real net reductions by a time certain. I don't know of any other way to get the ball rolling.
Carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions must come down. The Senate has already made that policy decision. Scientists at the IPCC (International Panel on Climate Change) and elsewhere can help us how to determine which policy options are most useful and when they should be implemented. But, it's time for opponents of that decision to work with us on real world reduction strategies.
It's now our job to figure out how to accomplish that goal in the most effective and expeditious way. I'm glad we have some witnesses here on the second panel to tell us about policies we might adopt to move in the right direction.
Unfortunately, from what little I've heard about the Administration's energy policy plan, it doesn't sound as if it moves in the right direction for climate purposes or for protecting the environment.
We need a plan that reduces harmful emissions, not increases them. Press accounts describing the Administration plan say it would simply result in burning more fossil fuels. That's short-sighted and irresponsible. And, it has little or no chance of getting wide, bipartisan support.
Emphasizing increased and inefficient fossil fuel use - when we know that carbon concentrations in the atmosphere are higher than they've been in 400,000 years - is a little bit like handing the Emperor Nero a fiddle to play while Rome burns.
A strong and supportable energy plan would first emphasize renewable energy, energy efficiency and conservation. Then, once all the economically viable energy is wrung out of those resources, we can turn to cleaner and safer uses of coal and other traditional fuels.
As my colleagues may have heard me say before, Nevada has a wealth of clean and climate-friendly renewable resources, particularly geothermal, wind and solar. We are more than willing to share our abundance with the nation. But, I can't support a plan that relegates these sources to obscurity. It wouldn't make economic or environmental sense for my state.
Finally, Mr. Chairman, I want to be constructive and I want results. But, I'm not interested in amending the Clean Air Act or any other environmental statutes as part of an energy plan that doesn't make tangible cuts in greenhouse gases.
CHART USED IN STATEMENT
Attachment to Statement Florentin Krause. Cutting Carbon Emissions at a Profit: Opportunities for the U.S.
International Project for Sustainable Energy Paths, May 2001.