· I look forward to today’s discussion of local, state and regional perspectives on global warming and climate change.
· Some observers have suggested that public attitudes on global warming may soon reach a “tipping point” that will spur sweeping changes in our society.
· Already, many of the most innovative efforts are coming at the local, state and regional levels.
· “Think globally, act locally” used to be a bumper sticker. Now it’s a necessity.
· I can tell you that, in my state of Minnesota, people are growing ever more concerned. Minnesotans love being out in nature. This winter I have heard from ice fishermen, snowmobilers and cross-cross skiers who tell me they personally see the signs of global warming and climate change:
· In our state, when we see something that concerns us, we’re not content to sit around. We want to do something to make a difference. We want to take action.
· Today’s hearing is especially timely.
· Just last week, Minnesota passed a new law that is now considered the nation’s most aggressive standard for promoting renewable energy in electricity production.
· It’s a “25-by-25” standard. By the year 2025, the state’s energy companies are required to generate 25 percent of their electricity from renewable sources such as wind, water, solar and biomass. The standard is even higher for Minnesota’s largest utility, Xcel Energy, which must reach 30 percent by 2020.
· Xcel, which supplies half the electricity in Minnesota, has said that it expects to meet the new standard without a price increase for consumers. Already, it has announced that it will build a 210-million-dollar, 100-megawatt wind farm in Minnesota.
· Almost as important as the renewable energy standard itself is the bipartisan political energy that produced this new law.
· It was adopted with overwhelming bipartisan support. The vote was 123 to 10 in the State House, and 61 to 4 in the State Senate. It was quickly signed into law by Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty.
· This new law is further demonstration that elected officials and policymakers across the spectrum understand what’s at stake.
· The same thing is happening at the local level. St. Paul, our capital city, has implemented a creative and forward-thinking Urban C02 Reduction Plan to reduce its carbon footprint.
· It’s not only about combating global warming and climate change. It’s also about reducing pollution and improving air quality. It’s about promoting economic development and technological innovation. And it’s about ensuring our future energy independence and security.
· We are seeing other major climate change initiatives elsewhere in the country.
· Earlier this week, governors from five Western states (including California and Arizona) announced that they will work together to reduce greenhouse gases by setting regional targets for lower emissions and establishing a regional “cap-and-trade” system for buying and selling greenhouse gas credits.
· This new regional project builds on the greenhouse gas emissions measure that the California legislature passed and California Governor Schwarzenegger signed into law last year.
· And it builds on other regional initiatives – especially the landmark Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative with seven northeastern and mid-Atlantic states that have also agreed to a regional “cap-and-trade” system aimed at reducing carbon dioxide emissions.
· One of the states in that initiative is New Jersey. I am pleased to see Governor Corzine with us today I look forward to hearing more about the executive order he signed last month setting a state economy-wide goal for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
· I also look forward to hearing from Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels, who has led the way with the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement. More than 400 mayors (representing over 59 million Americans) have pledged to meet or beat the Kyoto Protocol greenhouse gas reduction goals in their own communities.
· I admire these states and communities for their initiative. And what they’re doing should be an inspiration for national action.
· With all of these many efforts and initiatives at the local, state and regional levels, how many bills has Congress passed to actually limit the greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming and climate change?
· Right now, the answer is zero. My hope is that we will be able to change that number –sooner rather than later
· As Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano explained the other day: “In the absence of meaningful federal action, it has been up to the states to take action to address climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the country.”
· We are all students of government. So we know the famous phrase “laboratories of democracy.” That’s how Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis described the special role of states in our federal system.
· In this model, states are where new ideas can emerge … where policymakers can experiment … where innovative proposals can be tested.
· “It is one of the happy incidents of the federal system,” Brandeis wrote over 70 years ago, “that a single courageous state may, if its citizens choose, serve as a laboratory; and try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country.”
· But he did not mean for this to serve as an excuse for inaction by the national government. Good ideas and successful innovations are supposed to emerge from the laboratory and serve as a model for national policy and action. That is now our responsibility.
· The courage we’re seeing in the states as they deal with global warming should be matched by courage right here in Washington. We should be prepared to act on a national level – especially when the states and local communities are showing us the way.
· In this spirit, I look forward to our discussion today.