Casey Calls for Mandatory Action on Global Warming

WASHINGTON, DC - U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) today spoke on the Senate floor in support of mandatory reductions in global warming pollution.  He also discussed his support for three pieces of legislation: the Sanders-Boxer Global Warming Pollution Reduction Act (S.309), the Specter-Bingaman Low Carbon Economy Act (S.1766) and the Carper Clean Air Planning Act (S.1177).

“We must take action now to slow, stop and reverse our greenhouse gas emissions or the problem will become more severe and the solution more drastic,” said Senator Casey.  “I strongly believe that we have a moral duty to preserve the environment not just so we can have clean air to breathe and clean water to drink, but because this world is in our care for our children and our children’s children.” 

Casey continued: “These three bills can work together to reduce global warming pollution and other harmful emissions.  Science tells us that we need the 80% reduction in global warming pollution called for in the Sanders-Boxer legislation.  The Bingaman-Specter bill sets forth a detailed strategy to implement these reductions.  And the Carper bill effective targets other types of harmful pollution that pose significant health risks.”

Senator Casey’s entire statement for the record is attached.

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Statement of U.S. Senator Robert P. Casey, Jr.

Global Warming and Climate Change Legislation

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Mr. President, I rise today to talk about one of the most important issues facing our world, our country and our children: global warming due to climate change.  Global warming is a problem so serious that it is could physically and irrevocably change the world in which we live. 

I strongly believe that we have a moral duty to preserve the environment not just so we can have clean air to breathe and clean water to drink, but because this world is in our care for our children and our children’s children.  Article I, Section 27 of the Pennsylvania Constitution says the following:

The people have a right to clean air, pure water, and to the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic, and esthetic values of the environment.  Pennsylvania’s public natural resources are the common property of all the people, including generations yet to come.  As a trustee of these resources, the Commonwealth shall conserve and maintain them for the benefit of all the people.

As a public official from Pennsylvania, I have an obligation to give meaning to that Constitutional directive through my work in the Senate.  For all of these reasons, I firmly  believe that we must take action to slow, stop, and reverse our greenhouse gas emissions, and that the United States must stand up as a leader in the international arena to stop global warming.

We all know about the risk of increased catastrophic storms, flooding, changes in habitat that threaten countless species, and the potential for a mini ice-age in Northern Europe if melting ice sheets disrupt ocean currents.  We all worry about these problems.  But we should also worry that major ecological changes translate directly in to major socio-political changes. 

As a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, I have been focusing on the implications of global warming on our national security and the military readiness of our troops.  Consider that the conflict and violence in Darfur began, in part, when one group of people experienced a prolonged drought that forced them to move into an area of land occupied by another group of people.  Now consider the implications of wide-spread global drought, storms, coastal flooding, and crop failure.  The thought that we could be inflicting this future upon our children is unimaginable, yet that is exactly what we are doing the longer we wait to act to stop climate change.

The evidence of human-caused climate change is overwhelming.  Global warming exists and human activities are a major factor.  And the evidence – rising average temperatures, melting glaciers, shifts in migratory bird patterns – is telling us something.  We are failing in our duties as stewards of God’s creation.

Now what do we do about it?

This is the question that I asked myself as I began the process of reviewing the numerous global warming bills currently pending in the Senate.  After hours of briefings and meetings with dozens of stakeholders from Pennsylvania, including manufacturers, business owners, labor unions and environmentalists, I determined that a national climate change program must accomplish the following:

make mandatory greenhouse gas reductions;

-reduce greenhouse gases at rates and levels identified by international scientists of 80% by 2050;

-take immediate action to reduce emissions in the short term;

-reduce economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions;

-use a market-based approach to reduce emissions while providing some stability to the market, especially in the early years;

-balance regional differences in the sources of greenhouse gases and the solutions;

-position the United States as a global leader on climate change while bringing developing countries like China, India and Mexico to the table;

-hold states accountable for their own carbon consumption;

make major federal investments in carbon capture and storage research and clean coal technologies; and

-continue reducing other pollutants that pose threats to public health. 
Taking into account all of the principles that I just outlined, I am cosponsoring three global warming bills that are currently pending in the Senate. 

The first is the Global Warming Pollution Reduction Act introduced by Senator Sanders and Senator Boxer.  I commend my distinguished colleagues from Vermont and California for drafting such an important bill that will be the starting point of the Senate’s work on global warming.  This legislation makes strong and significant cuts to greenhouse gas emissions so that we reach the short-term goal of reaching 1990 emissions levels by 2020 and the long-term goal of 80% reductions from 2006 levels by 2050.  If we are to let science guide us in responding to global warming then I do not see how we could do any less than what scientists tell us we need to do to prevent catastrophic changes in the Earth’s atmosphere.

The second bill that I am cosponsoring is the Low Carbon Economy Act introduced by Senator Bingaman and Senator Specter.  I applaud both senators for the work they have put into developing such comprehensive and detailed legislation.  For a manufacturing and coal producing state like Pennsylvania, it is critically important that any climate change program include a detailed proposal for a cap-and-trade program for carbon credits, measures to keep our manufactures competitive and bring our international trading partners to the table, and a commitment to provide some measure of stability to the new carbon economy we are creating.

Finally, the third bill I am cosponsoring is Senator Carper’s Clean Air Planning Act.  While global warming and carbon remain top priorities, Senator Carper’s legislation keeps other hazardous air pollutants at the forefront of our discussions.  Nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, and mercury continue to have deleterious effects on the health of Pennsylvanians.  The incidences of asthma in children and the harmful impacts of mercury on early childhood development and women’s reproductive health compel us to take action on mercury emissions.

I believe that each of these three legislative proposals have strengths that must be included in any climate change proposal developed by the Environment and Public Works Committee and considered by the full Senate.  I had the opportunity to discuss global warming and the upcoming work of the Environment Committee with my colleague and the chair of that Committee, Senator Boxer.  I appreciate her long standing commitment to getting a climate bill to the Senate and her leadership on a wide range of environmental issues.  I also want to thank her for her commitment to continue to work with me so that I will be at the table to work on Pennsylvania’s priorities in a chairman’s mark climate bill.

Finally, Mr. President, I want to urge all of my colleagues to join the call of the thousands of people who have visited Capitol Hill and our offices during rallies on global warming and work to bring a climate bill to the Senate this year.  We truly have no time to waste when dealing with a problem of this magnitude.

Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that I be made a cosponsor the following legislation:  S. 309 the Global Warming Pollution Reduction Act, S. 1766 Low Carbon Economy Act and S. 1177 Clean Air Planning Act.

Thank you, and I yield the floor.

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