Hearings - Testimony
 
FULL COMMITTEE: "Senators' Perspectives on Global Warming."
Tuesday, January 30, 2007
 
Senator Dianne Feinstein

TRANSCRIPT

Thank you, Madam Chairman.  It is actually my privilege.  I have great pride in what you are doing and a great deal of faith that this Committee is going to be able to produce legislation under your leadership.  I am just very grateful for that.

 

 

And Senator Carper, I am on your bill, you are on my bill.  So we have kind of dovetailed our efforts, and I appreciate that very much.

 

What I would like to do is just informally tell you what I have learned.  No question, global warming is real.  The science has now coalesced.  No question, the Earth is warming as a product of human activity.

 

 

The question is, how fast will it warm.  In talking with climatologists at Scripps Institute, they said to me, if we have erred, we have erred on the conservative side; that the Earth is apt to warm much quicker than we predict.  That really sounds the clarion call for action, and for the United States taking a role of leadership in the world, which we have not done up to this point.

 

 

Now, what have I learned?  I have learned you can't stop it, but what we can do is slow it.  If we slow it to one to two degrees, we can adapt to it.  If it goes four to ten degrees, as many people believe it will by the end of the century, it is catastrophic.  The Earth has tipped and we will not be able to restore the balance again.  So time is of the essence.

 

 

What we have tried to do is recognize that there is no silver bullet; that we have to do a number of different things so that everybody does their share, the electric industry, industry in general, people, fuels, automobiles, trains, everything all across the board.

 

 

We have started by saying, all right, coal is dominant in 40 States, and 40 times two is 80.  We have 80 Senators that might be a problem on cap and trade.  Now, why do we go to cap and trade?  We go to cap and trade because Europe is using the system, the eight Northeastern States are going to be using the system; California is going into cap and trade.  And it looks like it provides the regimen to provide the auction and the credits to provide the technology to move everything forward.

 

 

We thought, well, all these coal States, what do we do?  So we went to a group of electric utilities called the Clean Energy Group.  They are 15 percent of the electricity in this Country.  They comprise Calpine, Entergy, Exelon, Florida Power and Light, which is in 42 States, PG&E, and the Public Service Enterprise Group, which is huge in many States.  We sat down with them, and we said, if we were to negotiate a cap and trade system, how would we do it so there would be some support in the industry?

 

The bill that Senator Carper and I have introduced, Madam Chairman, represents something that that section of the industry will support.  It essentially reduces six global warming gases by 25 percent by 2020.  It sets up an auction scheme that begins in 2011 with $1.9 billion to $10 billion, and goes up to $55 billion by 2036.  It involves agriculture, so that they can get credits for good tillage, for growing energy-proficient crops, et cetera.  It gives you something I think to pick and choose from.  It has a structure.

 

 

We believe it is workable.  These companies have all vetted it.  They have agreed to support it.  In 2020, it caps at various times the amount, so you reduce it by 25 percent by 2020.  Then in 2020, it says EPA, all right, now you would go 1.5 percent a year every year.  If your independent science shows that you need to do more than a year, you have the mandate to issue the directions of the cap, but absent that, it moves at 1.5 percent a year.

 

 

I believe that we have to tailor cap and trade for each industry.  We are working now in the industrial sector, and it may well be somewhat different than the electricity sector.  Also, we are submitting to you a biofuels bill, CAFE efficiency 10 miles over 10 years.  That is 18 percent saving by 2020.  Biofuels, I think, is around 20 percent saving, and then an energy efficiency bill patterned after California .

 

 

If I had to say one thing to you, I would say it is necessary to do a number of different things and do them well, do them in a practical way, and do them so that you know that the goals can be reached by people who want to reach them.  It is most important that it be practical and that it be doable, and that we be able to set something.  If you can go to China , that is going to shortly overcome us, and say, look, here is a regimen that we are prepared to do in our Country, in electricity, in industry, in business, whatever it is.  We believe you can do it, too.  And India , the same way, so that we can provide the kind of leadership that we need to on a planetary level.

 

 

Now, we did not include in our bill a preemption.  That became very controversial.  The Governor's people in California were concerned.  I know environmentalists were concerned.  But if you think about it, there should be one system, and the goal should be to make that one system worldwide so that everybody can enter into the cap and trade system, and everybody can produce the auction and the credits to do what they need to do in their own country to make technology much more improved.

 

 

So I think it is a long road.  I think it is a very interesting road.  I really am so proud of you and your Committee for holding these hearings and enabling us to come forward and present some of these things.  So thank you very much.

 

 

[The prepared statement of Senator Feinstein follows:]

 

 

Senator Boxer. Senator Feinstein, I want to thank you so much for your ideas on this topic, for your work.  Everything that you do, I can assure you is going to wind its way to our Committee, and we will be, as I have told Senator Kerry, working the way we used to work around here, in a very open process, when we make finally the decisions as to how we are moving.

 

 

You have laid out some very interesting points.  Do we move sector by sector?  Forty percent of the problem is utilities.  Thirty percent is mobile sources.  Thirty percent is smokestack and others.  Maybe we will move that way.  Maybe that is the only way we can go.

 

 

Maybe we want to get one system, as you point out, would be the best thing where you can say that you are meeting the needs that the problem suggests.  If we have a good system with good goals, then one system is clearly the best.  If the States are out in front, and they are the ones who are responding to the reality, then we have to take another look at it.

 

 

But I understand exactly what you are saying.  Certainty, one system that meets the need is certainly what we ought to do if we can do it.  But right now, it is sad to look at the state of things, where we have a patchwork.

 

 

Senator?

 

 

Senator Feinstein. I was just going to say, many of these companies do business in more than one State, some in dozens of States.  That is the reason I think why we have to grapple with a national standard so that everybody plays by the same rules across the board.

 

 

Senator Boxer. Absolutely, if we can get that standard strong enough so that it meets the challenge.  Senator Whitehouse was here.  I wish you had seen his presentation on what would happen in New England , and I think we will hear some of that passion from Senator Kerry.  Senators Snowe and Gregg handed in testimony that is just a call to action, to do the strongest possible thing you can do nationally.

 

 

I would add one point.  You are right.  These companies, many companies do business globally, too.  I think one of the incentives for them to come to the table is the work of our European friends on this, because they want to work with the EU.  They want to trade with the EU.  They have to package for the EU.  All of these things I think are calling us together with a common purpose.

 

 

But I am really looking forward to the rest of your legislation.  I would urge you to do it because once all those ideas are out on the table, Senator Bingaman's as well, and I know Senator Kerry is working as well, we will move, and you will be a very important part of writing the legislation we bring to the floor.

 

 

Thank you very much.

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