406 Dirksen EPW Hearing Room
Thank you Chairman Boxer for your leadership and hard work on this very critical legislation. I’d like to recognize my Chairman from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Kerry, who has joined us today, for his dedication to these issues. I’d also like to thank our witnesses for taking the time to be here today to provide their perspective and expert analysis of this legislation.
S. 1733, the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act, is the platform to move America forward on a path to achieve energy independence, revitalize our economy by creating green jobs here at home, and protect our environment from the threats of global climate change. I have heard from thousands upon thousands of New Yorkers of all age groups, from Brookhaven to Brooklyn, to Buffalo, who have called, written, visited my offices, and attended events to push for strong legislation that will transition our nation to a clean energy economy. I am confident that the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act is the framework that will do just that.
The passion and advocacy of my constituents has been invaluable leading up to these important hearings, and I thank them for their continued support to see strong climate change legislation across the finish line. Over the course of these hearings I look forward to receiving testimony from witnesses representing business interests and local governments from around the country, describing how this legislation will lead to American prosperity and a demonstration of the kind of innovation and ingenuity that our country is built on.
In particular, I am interested in exploring a number of aspects of this legislation that are critical to my constituents in the State of New York.
First, the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act includes a framework for significant investments in carbon-reducing transportation planning. The development and expansion of mass transit systems are critical to New Yorkers who take 1/3 of the nation’s mass transit rides, and is vital to mitigating America’s greenhouse emissions; 30 percent of which comes from the transportation sector.
I’m also interested in the many ways that this legislation prioritizes and incentivizes energy-efficiency, which as we all know, is one of the most reliable and cost-effective way to reduce energy bills for consumers and cut harmful emissions.
S. 1733 includes a provision I authored, entitled the Green Taxis Act. This legislation will allow municipalities to set standards for emissions and fuel economy for taxicabs using federal minimums and predicated on the commercial availability of vehicle technologies. These provisions will be beneficial to many cities across the United States. Replacing the current fleet of taxicabs on New York City streets with fuel-efficient vehicles would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 296,000 tons, or the equivalent of taking 35,000 cars off the road. In addition, switching to fuel-efficient vehicles would save each driver an average of $4,500 annually in gas costs and reduce the upwards pressure on passenger fares.
As I have stated in previous hearings, one area that is of vital concern to me is providing effective oversight for the carbon market created by this legislation. Ensuring that we have an active carbon market that allows for the type of customization that end-users need in order to finance a new clean power facility, large-scale solar or wind project, or international reforestation project is central to this legislation’s success.
I look forward to working with my colleagues Senators Baucus and Klobuchar and Chairman Lincoln in the Agriculture Committee as we engage in comprehensive market reform that will set a framework for how carbon markets are regulated to protect consumers from market manipulation while facilitating investment in emissions reductions. I am particularly interested in the provisions in this legislation that will allow our farms and forests to engage in activities that have real, measurable benefits in emission reductions. Ensuring that New York’s dairy farms and private forest lands can participate in activities that help us reach our climate goals is important to me.
Just as important as what is in this legislation, is what is not. S. 1733 does not include provisions that were part of the House-passed version that I believe are detrimental to reaching the goals of comprehensive climate change legislation. The Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act preserves Clean Air Act authority to regulate the nation’s oldest and dirtiest coal plants. These protections are critical to New Yorkers, as we are on the receiving end of air pollution from many of these plants - contributing to acid rain, harming natural resources such as the Adirondacks, increasing contamination in our waterways, limiting the number of fish we can eat, and increasingly growing asthma rates that raise our health care costs.
The Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act will lead to long-term economic prosperity, energy security, and the protection of our environment for future generations. Chairman Boxer, I want to thank you, my colleagues on the Committee, and the staff for all of their hard work on this legislation.
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- 10.27.2009 Tom Vilsack Statement for the Record - (71.4 KBs)