Climate change is one of the most serious environmental problems facing our planet. It touches nearly everything we do. Our climate is inextricably linked to our economy and heritage of our nation. Climate change affects where we live, where our food is grown, the severity and frequency of storms and disease, and many of our industries, including tourism, forestry, and agriculture. In New Hampshire, folks are already concerned with its impact on skiing, forestry, maple production, tourism, and outdoor recreation. In fact, the state was the first in the nation to pass a law in 2002 requiring carbon dioxide emissions reductions from power plants. Today, approximately 50 towns in New Hampshire are poised to vote in March on a resolution seeking the establishment of a national greenhouse gas reduction program and additional research into sustainable energy technologies.
States alone can not solve this problem. I believe Congress must take action to limit the emissions of greenhouse gases from a variety of sources. The overwhelming scientific data and other evidence about climate change cannot be ignored. It is for this reason that I have been a strong advocate for mandatory limits on greenhouse gases, and I will continue working with my Senate colleagues on legislation.
For the last four years, I have worked with Senators Carper and Alexander and others, on legislation which would reduce carbon dioxide and other emissions from power plants. The Clean Air Planning Act, which I have cosponsored, would address our nation’s critical air pollution problems in a way that curbs greenhouse gas emissions, enhances air quality, protects human health, and facilitates a growing economy. This legislation reduces the four primary emissions from power plants: sulfur dioxide (a contributing factor in lung and heart disease) by 80 percent; nitrogen oxide (associated with acid rain and regional haze) by 69 percent; mercury emissions (associated with fish contamination and birth defects) by 80 percent; and carbon dioxide emissions (linked to climate change) by establishing mandatory caps. This bill would protect the quality of air we breathe and the climate we live in, while simultaneously stimulating the economy and protecting human health. I hope to reintroduce this bill with my colleagues in the coming weeks.
However, power plants are just part of the solution. That is why I have supported economy-wide, market-based approaches, such as the Climate Stewardship Act’s “cap and trade” system, as reasonable ways to rein in carbon dioxide without undue harm to the U.S. economy. I also believe we need to re-examine the issue of vehicle emissions, a substantial contributor to the global carbon budget, and consider increasing the corporate average fuel economy standards for motor vehicles.
I appreciate the Committee’s attention to this issue and I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to draft climate change legislation which protects our environment and stimulates our economy.