(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Today Sen. Patty Murray spoke on the Senate floor in support of the bipartisan McCain-Lieberman climate change legislation. The bill would reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming.
The Senate is expected to vote on the legislation at 12:45pm today.
Murray’s remarks follow:
“Mr. President, I rise to support the Climate Stewardship Act offered by Senators Lieberman and McCain. I’m pleased to cosponsor this aggressive plan to fight global warming.
When President Bush walked away from the Kyoto Protocol negotiations in March 2001, he promised the American people he would come up with an alternative. More than two years later, the President has yet to deliver on his promise and we cannot wait any longer to start making progress.
Here in the Senate we have a worthy plan that will cut greenhouse gas emissions. I want to applaud Senators Lieberman and McCain for presenting this meaningful and comprehensive plan. The McCain-Lieberman bill will require mandatory greenhouse gas emissions reductions in the United States from broad sectors of our economy.
Rather than just aiming to limit industrial emissions -- as other plans have done -- this legislation will require emissions reductions from four major sectors of the economy: electric utilities, industrial plants, transportation, and large commercial facilities. These four sectors contribute 85 percent of the greenhouse gases produced in America.
The McCain-Lieberman legislation relies on a national “cap and trade” system to reduce the air pollutants that contribute to climate change. Many of my colleagues are familiar with this approach. It was first used on a national scale to combat acid rain under Title IV of the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990.
A cap and trade system establishes an overall total limit on emissions and then allows pollution sources to trade emissions allowances.
It gives participants the flexibility of the marketplace, and it works. In fact, the Acid Rain Program has reduced sulfur dioxide emissions from power plants – and it’s done it at less than a quarter of the predicted cost to industry.
The McCain-Lieberman program will mandate that by 2010, the four sectors involved must reduce their emissions to 2000 levels. This is a meaningful and substantial reduction in emissions: A 5 percent reduction over the next 7 years
Some critics suggest that you can’t “grow the economy” without emitting more greenhouse gases. We know that’s not true. As the Acid Rain Program proved, the cap and trade system works well. There were nay-sayers in 1990, and they were proven wrong. There are nay-sayers now, and we must prove them wrong again.
This is also an opportunity for American companies to get ahead of trends that we know are coming. We know that the future of energy production lies in renewable energy and in alternatives to fossil fuels. I want American workers to lead the way, and I want American companies to share in the benefits.
It’s projected that over the next 20 years, $10 - $20 trillion dollars will be spent globally on new energy technologies. This is an enormous market, and much of the investment will take place outside of the U.S., in places like China. I want American companies to sell the technologies that will be needed and used throughout the world. By passing this legislation, we will give American companies incentives to pursue new, clean energy technologies.
And new technologies mean new jobs – especially compared to older energy sources. Today, for every 1 percent of market share, renewable energy technologies generate 12,500 jobs. By the same measure, the coal industry only generates 3,000 jobs.
So this new technology holds a lot of promise in helping American companies and the American economy.
Clear Skies Plan
Mr. President, before I close, I want to make some broader comments about the President’s so-called “Clear Skies” plan.
This Administration's approach to global climate change has been to focus on reducing "greenhouse gas intensity.” That’s the ratio of carbon emissions to gross domestic product.
What most people don’t know is that greenhouse gas intensity is already declining. As an economy modernizes, it naturally becomes more efficient in terms of energy use.
So when the President says he wants to reduce greenhouse gas intensity by 18 percent over the next ten years with the Clear Skies Initiative, we should ask –
How much would the intensity decrease over the next ten years without the Clear Skies Initiative? The answer is stunning, and underscores just how little this Administration wants to do to reverse global warming.
According to the Congressional Research Service, greenhouse gas intensity is projected to fall by about 14 percent over the next ten years under our current environmental regulations. So the President’s proposal is nearly as weak as existing law.
President Bush thinks the federal government’s primary climate change goal should be to encourage voluntary measures to reduce greenhouse gas intensity by only 4 percent over the next decade. That is an utterly irresponsible approach to global warming.
Our country should be taking an aggressive lead on reducing pollution. I’m confident that by using market oriented strategies and new technologies, American ingenuity can find ways to reduce emissions without harming the economy – and as I mentioned earlier – it’s likely to help our economy.
Impact of Warming on the Pacific Northwest
Mr. President, the threat of global warming is real.
The Pacific Northwest stands to lose much from climate change – from increasingly severe storms to rising sea levels to negative impacts on forests, coasts, salmon and agriculture.
These resources define our quality of life and help sustain our economy.
In Washington state, increasing temperatures over the next decades could cause salmon in Puget Sound to migrate north.
It could cause some crops to shift their natural habitats into Canada.
The Western governors understand this.
In September, the governors of California, Oregon, and my home state of Washington got together to curb greenhouse gas emissions by promoting tougher emissions standards for new power plants.
Governors and legislatures in the Northeast have taken similar measures. Soon the nation will face a patchwork of regional regulations, making it costly and cumbersome for industries to comply.
Mr. President, the New York Times reported on these regional regulations, and I ask unanimous consent to include this article in the Record after my remarks.
Mr. President, we in Congress need to take action since this White House has failed to act. It’s time for a real policy to reduce our impacts on the global climate.
We know that a clean environment contributes to the health and quality of life for every Washingtonian and for every American.
The McCain-Lieberman bill is an important first step.
I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to vote for this legislation.”