I want to welcome everyone to this hearing on the Super Pollutant Act of 2014 (S. 2911), which is a bipartisan bill that supports innovative technologies and policies to reduce short-lived climate pollutant (SLCP) emissions, such as hydroflourocarbons (HFCs), black carbon, and methane.
Recent headlines have sounded the alarm on the mounting impacts of climate change. Over the past few months, we have seen everything from the hottest August, September and October on record, to historic droughts and extreme wildfires ravaging California communities, to vanishing wildlife habitat in Alaska, to toxic algae blooming out of control and contaminating drinking water supplies in Toledo, Ohio.
I read a story in the New York Times yesterday where scientists are quoted as saying if we stay on this path our grandkids will face a grim future.
How much more do we need to know about the devastating effects of climate change before Congress takes action?
Today's hearing will focus on some common sense steps we can take to address this critical threat.
S. 2911, which was introduced by Senators Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Susan Collins (R-ME), identifies a number of practical steps by the private sector and policy measures on the federal level that can be taken to limit pollutants that cause climate change.
Action to limit these super pollutants can help slow climate change over the next several decades, while also providing important co-benefits to public health.
Black carbon is fine particulate matter that is harmful to human health and the environment. By addressing black carbon emissions, we can help avoid the worst impacts of climate change, and also reduce exposure to air pollutants that cause a range of harmful health impacts, including respiratory and cardiovascular ailments and premature deaths.
Similarly, reducing methane leaks and emissions can prevent increases in ground-level ozone pollution, which will reduce the threat to public health. As we know, smog can worsen bronchitis, emphysema, and asthma. It is particularly harmful to children, because their lungs are still developing.
Besides protecting public health through climate pollutant reduction, S. 2911 has the additional benefit of supporting U.S. companies that are at the forefront of producing innovative chemical substitutes for HFCs and new technologies to control black carbon and methane leaks.
S. 2911 proposes several common-sense steps to reduce HFC, black carbon and methane emissions, including:
• Establishing an interagency task force to mitigate short-lived climate pollutants;
• Ensuring that federal agencies have plans in place to reduce HFC and methane emissions at federal facilities;
• Using existing federal authorities to phase in available alternatives to HFCs and encourage HFC recovery and recycling;
• Encouraging substantial black carbon pollution reduction efforts in developing countries as part of the State Department's international aid programs; and
• Directing federal agencies to assess whether pipeline transmission rates and new standards for pipeline systems can reduce methane leaks.