(Remarks as prepared for delivery)
Madame Chairman, thank you for holding this hearing on America’s Climate Security Act. I appreciate the effort you are taking to hold legislative hearings on the bill. I also want to thank my colleagues Senators Lieberman and Warner for putting together a good, balanced bill.
Baseball great Wade Boggs once said, “I didn’t get over 1300 walks without knowing the strike zone.” Madame Chairman, the Senators serving on this committee have all played crucial roles in passing important pieces of legislation. We are fortunate to have such experienced and dedicated public servants sitting on this committee.
My colleagues know a strike when they see one, and I think most will agree that this bill is a strike. Therefore, I am wary of some of the proposals that have been made that would pull this bill too far one direction or the other.
The America’s Climate Security Act currently hits the sweet spot. It once again makes the United States a leader in addressing climate change by calling for emissions reductions of 70% below 2005 levels by 2050.
The bill also keeps the economy growing by including important incentives for carbon capture and sequestration technology. This technology will allow the United States to continue to use it’s most abundant and affordable energy source, coal. In my state of Montana alone, we have 120 billion tons of coal. That is one tenth of all the coal in the world.
The bill also includes provisions allowing America’s farmers and foresters to generate offsets. These provisions both contain the costs to the economy and create new sources of revenue for America’s farmers and ranchers. Even if only half of Montana’s wheat growers switched to no-till farming, they could generate as much as $48 million dollars annually in revenue.
The balance Senators Lieberman and Warner have achieved in their bill is no small task. I have heard some of my colleagues say that the bill does not go far enough.
Some have said the caps should be tighter and the allowances to industry phased out more quickly. I have heard other colleagues say that Congress should cede its authority to tighten the cap in future years to the administration. I must respectfully disagree with these proposals.
We will not solve climate change with one bill. What we need is a Marshall Plan for America that aims to build a cleaner economy. The United States did not rebuild Europe after World War Two in a day.
Likewise, addressing climate change will take years and multiple policies such as a greening of the tax code, working with our trading partners, and increasing the competitiveness and efficiency of our economy.
I am also afraid that through a good intentioned shifting of allowances and auction revenue, we may upset the delicate balance currently in the bill. I have heard some of my friends say that the bill does not do enough to incentivize nuclear, renewable energy, and natural gas.
Clearly, we will need all of those energy sources to meet the needs of our growing economy. However, under the bill as currently drafted all of these energy sources are already eligible for incentives.
Some of my colleagues have also stated an interest in allocating allowances to existing power plants based on electricity output. I disagree with this approach.
This approach would amount to subsidizing existing plants with no economic or environmental added value. Allowances should go to those power plants that need them in order to comply with regulations and invest in cleaner technologies.
America’s Climate Security Act is a strong, balanced bill. We’ve got the pitch we want, and we ought to hit it out of the park.