I want to begin by thanking the Chairman and Ranking Member of this Subcommittee for their leadership and hard work to get us to the point we are at today – which is still early in what will be an arduous, but critical legislative process.
Global warming is the most serious environmental threat facing our country – and our planet – today.
The last seven five-year periods in the United States have been the warmest ever on record.
If temperatures continue to increase, global sea levels could rise substantially and threaten our coastlines.
World health organizations say we could see a major increase in diseases.
We need to stop talking about the problem and start doing something about it.
Senators Lieberman and Warner first released a rough draft of their bill in August – and to be honest, I had many concerns.
After discussions over the course of the next month, the draft was significantly changed for the better to reflect some of my recommendations.
Three of the most important changes were:
· Raising the target percentage of emissions reductions by 2020 from ten to 15 percent;
· Allowing states like New Jersey to set higher emissions reduction targets than the federal government; and
· Setting a year to end the practice of giving away free permits to emit greenhouse gases.
Two more changes I requested and believe add strength to this bill are included in today’s manager’s package.
First, the natural gas sector will now be required to reduce emissions under this bill.
This will ensure that more of the economy is covered, and it will increase the 2020 reduction level to as much as twenty percent.
Stronger near-term reductions will get us on the right path and make success over the long-term more likely.
But the longer-term reduction levels are still critical, and this bill does not go as far as most scientists have called for.
That’s why the bill will be changed today to mandate the Environmental Protection Agency to come to Congress with recommendations on how to strengthen this law and further reduce emissions if scientific studies call for it.
Despite these improvements, today’s product is not perfect – and I will be looking to strengthen it when we go to the full Committee.
While a date has been set to stop giving away free permits to emit greenhouse gases, that day is 28 years away. That’s far too long to wait.
I’ve spoken with Senators Warner and Sanders about this issue, and I hope we can work together at the full Committee to move this date up.
I also believe we should require new coal powered plants to use advanced technology to limit their emissions, change how we allocate allowances to better encourage and reward clean energy, and ensure that support is given to renewable energy resources like solar and wind power.
Mr. Chairman, I know the development of this bill was not an easy task and I applaud the leadership you and Senator Warner have shown.
Some improvements have already been made, and I will continue my effort to make this bill stronger as we move forward.
It is said that perfect is the enemy of the good. I think today we have the opportunity to make a good start.”
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