406 Dirksen EPW Hearing Room
Statement of Chairman Boxer
“State Regulators’ Perspectives on the Clean Power Plan”
March 11, 2015
I welcome all of our witnesses to this hearing on State Regulators’ Perspectives on the Clean Power Plan. I am particularly happy to welcome Mary Nichols, Executive Director of the California Air Resources Board, who will describe the success that California has had with its program to reduce carbon pollution and create a clean energy economy.
I am proud that my home state of California has been a leader in this field, but there is no doubt that all states must reduce dangerous carbon pollution – especially from our nation’s biggest source, existing power plants.
We must reduce carbon pollution in order to address dangerous climate change. And we cannot wait any longer, because we are already seeing the impacts all around us, including rising temperatures. According to NASA and NOAA, 2014 was the warmest year on record. And we know these record temperatures have other real consequences.
From December 2014 through February 2015, California registered the highest average temperature in at least a century, and as of last week, over 93 percent of California was in severe drought.
According to new peer-reviewed research in the Proceeding of the National Academies of Sciences, California’s record temperatures are driving the state’s extreme drought, and scientists predict that it will get worse and worse over the coming decades.
And two weeks ago, scientists at NASA and at Cornell and Columbia Universities found if we fail to act aggressively to cut carbon pollution, we have an 80 percent chance of a mega-drought happening between 2050 and 2099 that would last more than three decades.
In the face of all this peer-reviewed science showing the terrifying impacts from uncontrolled, dangerous carbon pollution, states should be working together to find solutions to prevent climate change. We know that the American people want action. In January a New York Times/Stanford poll found 83% of Americans, including 61% of Republicans, say if nothing is done to reduce emissions, global warming will be a serious problem in the future.
Unfortunately, climate change deniers in the Senate continue to attack the landmark Clean Air Act. Just last week, Senate Majority Leader McConnell told state governments to ignore the Clean Air Act and not develop their own plans on how to cut carbon pollution under the new EPA carbon pollution standards.
We know we can reduce carbon pollution while growing the economy. Just look at the successes in California and states in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative – like New York, where our witness Michael Myers is from. He represents New York’s Attorney General’s office.
California is on a path to cut its carbon pollution by 80 percent by 2050, as required under our greenhouse gas emissions law, A.B. 32.
During the first year and half of the state’s cap and trade program, California added 491,000 jobs, a growth of almost 3.3percent, which outpaces the national growth rate of 2.5 percent.
This has benefitted the middle class and energy users. California households pay the ninth lowest electricity bills in the country.
It may interest our Chairman to know that the Energy Information Administration found last month that California’s monthly residential electricity bill averaged $90.19 compared to Oklahoma’s monthly bill which averaged $110.47.
Under California’s climate program, many consumers are even receiving a twice- a-year “climate credit” of around $35 that lowers their utility bill.
California, New York, and other states should be proud of their leadership in putting forward real solutions to climate change and showing that meeting the goals of the Clean Power Plan will benefit states and the American people. I look forward to hearing from today’s witnesses.