(Remarks as prepared for delivery)
Good morning. Today’s hearing will focus on global warming science and its implications.
The evidence has long been overwhelming that global warming poses a serious threat to the American people and we must act now to prevent devastating consequences.
In dozens of hearings and briefings in this Committee, including presentations from Nobel Prize winning scientists of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), we have heard repeatedly that global warming endangers public health and welfare.
The IPCC found that global warming is unequivocal, and that most of the recent warming is due to human activities.
In North America, the IPCC warned of risks to public health, including increased frequency and duration of heat waves and heat related illness and death, increased water-borne disease from degraded water quality, and increased respiratory disease, including asthma and other lung diseases, from increased smog. Children and the elderly will be especially vulnerable to these impacts.
In the U.S., there will also be reduced snowpack in the western mountains, critically reducing access to water. There will also be prolonged droughts and insect invasions that will kill crops and damage forests, leaving them more susceptible to fire. Coastal communities and habitats will be battered by intensified storms.
And leading scientists every week sound new warnings. Let’s look at a few headlines over the last several weeks:
• Warming West is ground zero for wildfires
San Francisco Chronicle, July 21, 2008
• Wetlands Could Unleash "Carbon Bomb" - Scientists
Reuters, July 21, 2008
• Climate Change May Muddy Better-Than-Bottled New York Tap Water
Bloomberg, July 7, 2008
• Global Warming to Deplete Great Lakes Even More
Reuters, May 28, 2008
We are fortunate to be joined today by an IPCC scientist who will share some of the latest information with us on the dangers posed by global warming. I’d also like to place in the record a statement from Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, Chairman of the IPCC.
Despite the scientific consensus, despite the danger, the Bush Administration has failed to take any meaningful action.
In fact, rather than addressing the problem, recent investigations by the press and congressional committees, including this one, have documented an effort by the White House and the Office of the Vice President to cover up the threat posed by global warming. They have censored documents including CDC testimony before this committee. They have muzzled scientists. And they have ignored unanimous recommendations, from agency experts, to act.
The Bush Administration’s actions threaten the health and welfare of the American people, but benefit a narrow group of special interests.
Nevertheless, we have the tools to begin to act now. The Supreme Court in Massachusetts v. EPA, decided in April of last year, made absolutely clear that our Clean Air Act applies to global warming emissions. Unfortunately, the Bush Administration has defied the Supreme Court’s ruling and pushed off action to the next Administration.
In our hearing today, we will hear more about exactly how this happened.
Not only has the Bush Administration itself failed to act, but they are blocking the actions of states like California, and as many as 19 states that are waiting to follow suit, each of which is trying to make progress in the absence of federal leadership.
I am committed to continuing to press for action at the earliest opportunity. We will not let up. We cannot afford to. We have the opportunity to solve this problem, and I believe we will.
I look forward to hearing from the witnesses today.