Statement of Senator Joseph Lieberman
Hearing on Senators’ Perspectives on Global Warming
United States Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works
January 30, 2007
Thank you, Madame Chairwoman. Let me start by saying how delighted I am by your accession to the chair of this committee, and how much I look forward to working under your leadership.
Second, let me tell you how deeply grateful I am to you for moving global warming to the top of this committee’s agenda. You have been a long-time leader on the need to confront the challenge of global warming. And you and I both know that was a lonely outpost for sometime.
But now I think I hear the sound of cavalry coming and a new willingness to charge into this challenge head on.
For months, I have been reading and listening both to my colleagues in the Senate and to leaders in the public, private and academic sectors. And I believe the politics of global warming have changed and that a new consensus is emerging. I believe that in this new Congress – and under your leadership of this Committee – we can create bipartisan support here and then on the Senator floor for a strong, comprehensive bill to curb global warming.
The time is ripe. Solutions are at hand. And coalitions of good will are already forming across political and ideological lines. The often varied orbits of Democrats, Republicans – and Independents – along with the business community, academia and the environmental and scientific community have moved into an alignment, creating a galvanizing, gravitational tug toward action.
I believe it is crucial to our ultimate success that we proceed in a bipartisan manner from the very beginning of this process. For instance, one of my Republican friends on this committee, Senator Alexander, has already cosponsored my Democratic friend Senator Carper’s bill to reduce greenhouse gases from the electrical generating sector of the U.S. economy.
I want to help build and nurture this bipartisan momentum through the subcommittee I am privileged to lead with my good friend and colleague Sen. Warner. This week, in fact, I hope to notice a February 7 subcommittee hearing that will examine the impacts of global warming on the wildlife and ecosystems that are central to our American values, way of life, and . . . our very livelihoods across this nation.
Left unchecked, there is no region of the country that will not suffer from the effects of global warming and I invite all my colleagues on this committee to attend this hearing. The devastation wrought by rising sea levels, droughts, waves of insect borne diseases will sweep from coast to coast, leaving no one untouched.
Madam Chairwoman, you and my colleagues here know that I have reintroduced legislation I sponsored with Sen. McCain in the last two Congresses to reduce global warming – the Climate Stewardship and Innovation Act.
This bill has the bipartisan support of Senators Lincoln, Snowe, Obama, Collins, and Durbin, and my committee colleagues, Senators Clinton and Carper, having signed on as cosponsors as well.
Several of my colleagues on this committee and in the Senate have expressed a concern that, in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, we might inadvertently force more American jobs overseas and increase the energy costs borne by low- and middle-income Americans.
These are perfectly understandable, reasonable concerns. Indeed, Sen. McCain and I shared them when we sat down to write our bill. And we are both convinced that we can fight the quickening slide into catastrophic climate change in a way that actually creates new high-paying jobs in the United States, improves this country’s position in relation to its trading partners, and lowers Americans’ energy costs over the long term.
Our bill uses the power of the free market to promote the rapid and widespread deployment of advanced technologies and practices for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Moreover, as I mentioned, it is designed to promote the economic well-being of low- and middle-income Americans, and to keep good jobs in the United States.
The Climate Stewardship and Innovation Act would cap the greenhouse-gas emissions of the electric power, industrial, transportation, and commercial sectors of the economy at year 2004 levels by 2012. It then would lower that cap gradually, such that it reaches one third of year 2004 levels by 2050.
The bill controls compliance costs by allowing companies to trade, save, and borrow emissions credits, and by allowing them to generate credits when they induce non-covered businesses, farms, and others to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions or capture and store greenhouse gases.
The bill then invests set-aside emissions credits and money raised by the auction of those allowances in advancing several positive ends, such as deploying advanced technologies and practices for reducing emissions; protecting low- and middle-income Americans from higher energy costs; keeping good jobs in the United States; and mitigating the negative impacts of any unavoidable global warming on low- and middle-income Americans, low-income populations abroad, and wildlife.
I believe our bill is sound. And with the help of Republicans and Democrats on this committee, we can make it even better. I for one will be very receptive to suggestions presented by my colleagues on this committee as to ways we can further protect American competitiveness and jobs.
I will also work with those Senators not on this committee, who have devoted a great deal of thought and effort to the issue of cost control and the mechanics of an economy-wide, market-based emission reduction system.
Here Senator Bingaman, the distinguished chair of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, deserves special mention. He has wrestled with the facts and details of climate legislation as much as any other Senator, and his ideas merit careful consideration.
Madame Chairwoman, let me close by again thanking you for your leadership and by reiterating how eager I am to assist you as you lead this committee to the bipartisan solutions that we know lie within our grasp.