406 Dirksen EPW Hearing Room

Joseph I. Lieberman


Thank you, Madame Chairwoman.  And thank you for keeping the attention of this committee focused squarely on the supremely important need to curb global warming.

Many of us here in Congress have been aware for some time that, when it comes to global warming, state and local governments have been filling the vacuum left by federal inaction.  It was only in preparing for this hearing, however, that I had an opportunity to learn just how many state and local governments have taken strong steps already.  Fourteen states have actually set state-wide targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.  Twenty-nine states have completed climate action plans.  Thirty-one states are involved already in regional greenhouse gas reduction initiatives.  I am not sure whether the various members of Congress who still oppose federal legislation to mandate greenhouse gas reductions realize how many of their constituent businesses are already subject to such mandates.  All of the businesses I talk to prefer, for several reasons, a uniform national system to a patchwork of state and regional ones.  I would think the same would be true of many large employers in my colleagues’ states.

Of course, creating political pressure for a comprehensive national strategy is by no means the only virtue of these local, state, and regional initiatives.  For one thing, the non-federal initiatives are reducing greenhouse gases right now.  For another, they are doing invaluable design and testing work – dealing with emissions registries, monitoring and compliance programs, trading markets, and offsets – that will inform the inevitable federal system.  The comprehensive national system that I believe Congress will soon enact will be more effective, more efficient, and more durable because of the ingenious and courageous work that is being done today at the local, state, and regional levels.

I cannot discuss genius and courage on the issue of global warming without mentioning Connecticut.  I am extremely proud to represent a state that has always been, and continues to be, a national leader on policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  Connecticut is a founding member of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative for power plants.  In 2004, the state passed laws and issued executive orders to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across all major sectors of the state’s economy.  For example, those laws adopt California’s automobile emissions standards, set efficiency standards for products and appliances, require greenhouse gas emissions reporting, and mandate a plan to reduce statewide greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2010 and to 10% below 1990 levels by 2020.  In early 2005, Governor Rell’s administration submitted the plan to the Connecticut General Assembly.  That document, encompassing 55 separate initiatives, represents one of the most, if not the most, comprehensive, economy-wide state plans for curbing global warming pollution.  Many of the initiatives comprising Connecticut’s plan are now in place and reducing emissions.

Madame Chairwoman, I could not resist the temptation to brag a bit about Connecticut’s enormously productive efforts in this area.  I appreciate my colleagues’ patience.  I am just extremely proud of my constituents and Connecticut’s government.

Thank you, Madame Chairwoman.