Oversight Hearing on Review of President's Climate Action Plan
January 16, 2014
(Remarks as prepared for delivery)
Today's hearing will cover three topics: First, the President's Climate Action Plan, which is a critical issue. We have four Administration agencies today.
Senator Vitter and the minority Members of this Committee stated in their December 18, 2013, year-end report:
"Vitter and the EPW Republicans will continue pushing for an oversight hearing on the Administration's climate agenda that includes witnesses from federal agencies."
Second, today's hearing will include the budget for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Third, we have set aside time for Members of this Committee to ask about John Beale, an outrageous con man who was finally caught and convicted. We held a briefing on this on September 30th. All Members of this Committee were invited to that briefing. I asked many questions and Senator Vitter asked over 50 questions. However, Senator Vitter has more questions on this subject, and so we are covering that subject too.
The broad scope of this hearing was formally agreed to by the Ranking Member of this Committee.
The Wall Street Journal said in its editorial today that I am living in an "EPA fairy tale" for commending EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy for shining a light on the actions of a rogue employee. This is what Patrick Sullivan, the Assistant Inspector General for Investigations at EPA, said about Administrator McCarthy's role:
Mr. Sullivan: "To our knowledge, the first senior person to express concerns was Ms. McCarthy."
Now let me turn to the President's Climate Action Plan.
In his plan released on June 25, 2013, President Obama called for action to fight climate change so we do not condemn future generations to a planet that is beyond repair. I couldn't agree more, because climate change is a catastrophe that is unfolding before our eyes.
The President's plan lays out a roadmap for action. It calls for a wide range of reasonable steps to reduce carbon pollution, grow the economy through clean energy, prepare for future impacts such as rising sea levels and storm surges, and lead global efforts to fight climate change.
When the President announced his Climate Action Plan, many companies issued statements of support, including Walmart, Honeywell, DuPont, Dominion Resources, American Electric Power, and other business leaders.
More than 500 companies, such as GM, Nike, Mars, Nestle and Unilever, have stated that tackling climate change is one America's greatest economic opportunities in the 21st century.
In addition to many of the nation's largest companies, the American people have also weighed in on the need to address this growing threat, and they want action now.
A USA Today poll in December found that 81% of Americans think climate change will be a serious problem if nothing is done to reduce it. And 75% of Americans say the U.S. should take action on climate change even if other nations do less.
That poll also found that Americans overwhelmingly support clean energy solutions, like generating electricity from solar and wind.
I am encouraged that significant action to address climate change is already underway, including establishing limits on carbon pollution from cars and trucks. The Obama Administration is also working on carbon pollution limits for new and existing power plants. Together, these efforts address the nation's two largest sources of carbon pollution.
A new peer reviewed study in the journal Nature finds that unless we control carbon pollution, the most severe predictions by scientists and climate experts on rising temperatures will occur by the end of the century, resulting in the most significant and dangerous impacts from climate change - an increase of more than 7 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100.
In my home state of California, scientists have been telling us for years that climate change would bring substantially higher temperatures, droughts, floods, more extreme wildfires, and rising sea levels. And we have seen it happen before our eyes.
Future generations will look back to this moment and judge us by whether we started to act on this issue today.
I look forward to hearing from today's witnesses, who are leading their agencies' efforts to reduce carbon pollution. It is good for the environment, it is good for the economy, and it is good for human health.