FY 2011 EPA Budget Hearing
February 23, 2010
(Remarks as prepared for delivery)
Welcome, Administrator Jackson.
I appreciate the EPA budget's significant commitment to the nation's clean water infrastructure and the priority funding for the EPA's Office of Children's Health. Children are especially vulnerable to pollution, and we must ensure they are protected.
I am concerned about the Superfund program, and some of the clean air programs, including the San Joaquin and South Coast Air District Emissions Grants, which I will ask you about later.
Now, I would note that the President's budget takes important steps that are needed to start addressing global warming. We know you won't be enforcing rules for a year, but you do need to prepare, as the Supreme Court has stated.
While the world is going green, the one place where we can't seem to address climate change directly is here in the Senate. For example, in Great Britain, both labor and conservative parties all support strong action on global warming.
Meanwhile, Senator Inhofe had a good time inviting Al Gore to his very well crafted igloo during Washington's big snowstorm, more than hinting that snow in February in Washington scientifically proves that the climate isn't warming.
However, scientists know weather and climate are two different things. Here's how NASA explains the difference:
"In most places, weather can change from minute-to-minute, hour-to-hour, day-to-day, and season-to-season. Climate, however, is the average of weather over time and space."
To illustrate this point, let's look at what happened in other parts of the world while the igloo was being built.
In Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, record hot temperatures - including three days in a row over 100 degrees - were responsible for 32 deaths.
Here's a photo from Vancouver's ski slopes, where the organizers of the Winter Olympics were forced to truck in tons of snow, because slopes that have seen an average of 8 feet of snow over the past four years had a mere 36 inches this year.
I don't claim that any of these weather events proves or disproves climate change. Because that's not a scientific approach to this problem.
The way to evaluate climate trends is to look at look at scientific records over time.
So let's do that. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration tells us that the 2000-2009 decade was the hottest in the last 130-years since record keeping began.
And here is some more scientific evidence:
• Every ice front in the southern part of the Antarctic Peninsula has been retreating overall from 1947 to 2009, with the most dramatic changes occurring since 1990 (USGS, 2010).
• September 2009 - Northern Hemisphere sea ice extent was third lowest since satellite records began in 1979 (NOAA, 2010).
These are the facts on the ground, not speculation. Scientists tell us that one of the marks of climate change is extreme weather events. Let's look at this chart (source: US Global Change Research Program).
• Amount of rain in the heaviest storms has increased nearly 20% in the past century.
• By contrast, in much of the Southeast and large parts of the West, the frequency of drought has increased over the past 50 years.
• In the West, both the frequency of large wildfires and length of the fire season have increased substantially in recent decades.
• In last 30 years, annual sea surface temperatures in the main Atlantic hurricane development region increased 2°F, coinciding with an increase in the destructive energy of Atlantic tropical storms and hurricanes.
One of the reasons I am so pleased EPA is addressing climate change is that when we do so, we create millions of jobs.
But as the LA Times reported just yesterday, jobs are being lost as we allow the rest of the world to surpass us in developing new technologies. The efforts by some to bottle up clean energy and climate proposals in the Congress have caused firms to hold off on major investments, stifling job growth.
I am so pleased that this Committee has voted out the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act, and that Senators Kerry, Lieberman and Graham are working together and making progress toward 60 votes for a climate and energy bill.
So thank you, Administrator Jackson, for starting to address this threat and for understanding the need to move to a clean energy economy and the jobs that will follow. I know you agree that Congressional action is the best way, but we must get ready to act administratively.
Budgets are clear expressions of our priorities. I look forward to this hearing