406 Dirksen EPW Hearing Room
Benjamin L. Cardin
Thank you, Chairman Boxer and Chairman Kerry, for your leadership on this legislation. All of us want to make sure we get it right.
I am confident that the work my colleagues and I have put into the legislation we are considering today will provide the legal framework, business incentives and consumer protections necessary to move America towards a more prosperous, secure, clean energy future.
The bill sets ambitious yet essential targets for greenhouse gas emission reductions. Through the expanded use of existing technologies, particularly in the area of energy efficiency, we can reach these near term goals.
The investments this bill makes in renewable and alternative energy sources over the life of the bill will help us achieve energy security, leave our grandkids a healthy planet and generate millions of new, well paying jobs in the clean energy and transportation sector.
But we’ve got to act. We can’t just talk about this. I hope my colleagues understand the urgency of this issue. My friend from Ohio, Senator Voinovich, and I were together at a meeting with our European friends earlier this month. They talked about the urgency in a term that you don’t hear often here: climate migrants. These are people who are being forced to leave their homes because of drought and flooding. It’s causing stability issues in Africa and Asia and Europe.
We all can give examples of why it is important to act in our individual states. I can take you right here in Maryland to Smith Island and you will see potential climate migrants. The island is disappearing because of sea level increases due to global climate change. I also talk frequently with our watermen who tell me that with the rising temperatures in the Chesapeake Bay, it is becoming more and more difficult for juvenile crabs to survive. There is a real urgency that we act.
I am confident that my colleagues understand the urgency from a national security point of view. We are dependent on imported oil, which jeopardizes the security of America. I also think we all understand the economic threats. As a nation, we’re held hostage to the ups and downs of the oil market, which has a direct impact on our economy. It’s urgent that we get this right.
My friend from Vermont, Senator Sanders, makes a very compelling point about the economic impact of this legislation. It’s going to be positive on jobs. Take the example of the GM plant in White Marsh, Maryland, where they are developing new battery technology with a new grant awarded by the Department of Energy. I thank Secretary Chu for investing in such innovation that will make us leaders in the creation of alternative ways to fuel our automobiles.
I do need to take issue with my friend from Wyoming, Senator Barrasso, and the way he used his numbers. I ask unanimous consent that the Congressional Research Service report on job creation on the stimulus be made part of our record. I want to quote from one section that says ‘based on two different estimating procedures, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act may have added some one million jobs to employers’ payroll in August 2009 compared to what employment would have been in the absence of legislation.’
If we didn’t act, we have no idea how many jobs would have been lost in our economy. We do know that job losses have been reduced dramatically and, economists tell us, the stimulus package worked.
We know that American ingenuity will create jobs if given the right incentives. And that’s what this bill does. It is the economic ingenuity of our people that will make our nation energy secure, unleash us from the economic uncertainty of foreign energy markets, and mitigate the environmental problems we face.
I want to applaud Chairman Boxer and Senator Kerry for the framework of this legislation because it provides a way in which we can deal with alternate and renewable energy sources. It recognizes nuclear power for its carbon-friendly footprint and the priority role it will play in fulfilling our future energy needs. It also invests in lifestyles that are going to be important for America. Visit any European capital and you will know that we can do better on transit in here America. Transportation represents 30 percent of the emission of green house gasses and 70 percent of the oil we use. We can do much better.
This bill recognizes the role transit will play in reducing vehicle emissions. According to the American Public Transportation Association, public transit currently saves 37 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year. If we are going to reach our targets for cleaner air and a cooler planet, we must invest in public transportation in this country. I fought hard to make sure this bill would boost funding for transit so that we can put more people on clean, efficient and convenient buses, trolleys, subways and rail systems.
The bill helps also helps keep consumer costs low by mitigating cost increases to ratepayers and providing incentives for energy efficiency. The bill recognizes the need to provide for a smooth transition period as we move towards a clean energy economy. This means providing ratepayer cost protections against energy price increases while the energy sector works to shift toward cleaner energy production and more efficient energy technologies.
The bill pays close attention to the needs of America’s agriculture sector. The Chairman’s Mark increases funding for farmers that implement measures that mitigate greenhouse gases, even if these activities or projects are not eligible as official offset projects. These provisions will help Maryland farmers who already implement many of these techniques to manage nutrient runoff.
Thank you, Madame Chair, because your bill gives us the opportunity to invest in that type of America that will make us more competitive in the future. You provide the resources that help consumers in energy intense industries. You help transition us to a system where polluters pay. Polluters should pay. Ultimately, we want to make sure consumers are protected.
Finally, I want to mention one more aspect of this bill. It is deficit neutral. We are not going to burden our children and grandchildren with additional debt.
I hope we all can work together – democrats and republicans – this is an issue that America is asking us to solve. I think we have the blueprint to do it. Let’s get down to work.
- 10.27.2009 Tom Vilsack Statement for the Record - Vilsacktestimonyforrecord102609Final.pdf (71.4 KBs)