Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety Hearing: "Climate Change: The Need to Act Now"
June 18, 2014
(Remarks as prepared for delivery)
Today we are joined by four former Administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency who were appointed by Republican Presidents: the Honorable William Ruckelshaus served as the first EPA Administrator under President Richard Nixon and then again under President Ronald Reagan; the Honorable Lee Thomas also served under President Reagan; the Honorable William Reilly served under President George H. W. Bush, and the Honorable Christine Todd Whitman served under President George W. Bush.
I am proud that our landmark environmental laws were created with an overwhelming bipartisan consensus, and it saddens me that protecting the environment at the federal level has become a partisan issue.
In 1970, the Clean Air Act passed the Senate by a vote of 73-0, passed the House by 375-1, and was signed into law by President Nixon.
In 1990, revisions to the Clean Air Act passed the Senate by a vote of 89-11and by 401-21 in the House, and were signed into law by President George H.W. Bush.
But in the last Congress the Republicans then sent us over 90 anti-Clean Air riders.
We should all know we must take action to reduce harmful carbon pollution, which 97% of scientists agree is leading to dangerous climate change that threatens our families. To say we can't have an opinion because we are not scientists makes no sense to me. All the more reason to listen to the scientists.
The four former EPA Administrators with us today will testify about the need to control carbon pollution so we can avoid the most calamitous impacts of climate change -- such as rising sea levels, dangerous heat waves, and economic disruption.
The American people understand the threats posed by climate change, and they want action. According to a recent Washington Post-ABC poll, a bipartisan majority of the American people want federal limits on carbon pollution. Approximately 70 percent say the federal government should require limits to carbon pollution from existing power plants, and 70 percent (57 percent of Republicans, 76 percent of Independents, and 79 percent of Democrats) support requiring states to limit the amount of carbon pollution within their borders.
Power plants account for nearly 40% of all carbon pollution released into the air. Unlike other pollutants, right now there are no limits to the amount of carbon pollution that can be released into the air for power plants.
The President's carbon pollution reduction plan will avoid up to 6,600 premature deaths, 150,000 asthma attacks, 3,300 heart attacks, 2,800 hospital admissions, and 490,000 missed days at school and work.
It is in America's DNA to turn a problem into an opportunity, and that is what we have done by being a pioneer in the green technology industry. These new carbon pollution standards are no different.
Landmark environmental laws have bolstered an environmental technology and services sector that employs an estimated 3.4 million people, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And many of these jobs, like installing solar roofs and wind turbines cannot be outsourced.
I want to thank Senator Whitehouse for putting together this marvelous panel.