tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN March 10, 2014 10:00pm-12:01am EDT
bold strategy that we need so that america is a leader in the world in cutting greenhouse gas emissions and transforming our energy system? and the good news here is that the transformation of our energy system is going to be less expensive, if you like, than doing nothing. doing nothing means that we will see higher food prices, we will see wildfires, we will see scarceties of food, we will see weather disaws disturbances wreg havoc all over the world, requiring huge amounts of money to address those problems. so what is the alternative? what do we begin to do? and i think the answer is -- and the good news is -- that we
right now today, we have the technology to begin the process of significantly transforming our energy system. we know how to dod it with today's technology -- we know how to do it with today's technology, and that technology will only be improved in months and years to come. let me just give you a few examples of some of the good news a that's happening in terms -- news that's happening in terms of the ability that we now have to move to sustainable energy. the cost of solar, which certainly will be one of the major sustainable energy technologies that we look to in the future, that technology cost continues to plummet. the solar energy industry association, in a report issued just last week, reported that the average weighted cost of a solar p.v. system was $2.59 per watt, a 15% drop from the year before.
and according to the solar energy industry association, utility scale solar, perhaps the best comparison to utility-scale conventional electricity generation, now costs, on average, 7.7 cents per kilowatt hour compared to about 10 cents per kill lea wat kilowatt for ps operating across the united states. the cost of wind energy is also comparable or even less than the cost of other, more traditional energy sources. the average cost of wind power coming online between now and 2018 is estimated to be 8.6 cents per kilowatt hour, eve evn without including the value of the production tax credit. moving to sustainable energies like solar and wind and geothermal and biomass and
hydropower clearly is something that we should be doing very, very aggressively. and, mr. president, when we do that, we not only cut greenhouse gas emissions, we not only significantly cut air pollution, but in the process we create many, many jobs as we transform our energy system. but sustainable energy is only one part of the equation. what we must also do is invest very, very significantly in energy efficiency and in sustainable energy. every dollar invested in efficiency an in low-income households through the weatherization assistance program results in $2.53 in energy and nonenergy benefits for a community. mr. president, i suspect the story is the same in maine as it is in vermont, but i can
remember meeting with two older women who were sisters who lived in barry, vermont, and they were able to get their home weatherized. their home, as many homes in vermont, was old, was leaking energy, not well-insulted, did not have goodwin dose, did not have -- did not have goodwindo windows. and as a result of a weatherization project in their home, their fuel bill went down by 50%. and these were low-income senior citizens. so when we move in this direction, we can save americans substantial sums on their fuel bills. we create local jobs. we cut greenhouse gas emissions. if that is not a win-win-win situation, then i don't know what is. mr. president, it seems to me
that we should be investing substantially in subsidies like the investment tax credit and the production tax credit. every dollar that we invest in these efforts yields many, many more in savings. it is also true, mr. president, that when some of my friends object to the government helping to assist sustainable energies or putting money into energy efficiency, they seem to forget that the very, very mature and very, very profitable fossil fuel industry benefits very, very substantially from the subsidies that we have provided them. in fact, american taxpayers are set to give away over $100 billion to the oil, gas, and coal industries over the next decade through a wide range of subsidies, tax breaks, and tax
loopholes. and, mr. president, if we can subsidize the coal industry, if we can subsidize exxonmobil and the oil industry, if we can subsidize the gas industry, we sure as heck can subsidize and provide support for wind, solar, and other sustainable energies. mr. president, let me come to maybe the end of my remarks here and suggest the following: and that is, the time is now for us to take bold and decisive action. as my colleague, senator franken, mentioned, those of us who have kids -- and i have four -- those of us who have grandchildren -- and i have
seven beautiful grandchildren -- they will look us in the eye 20 years from now and say, why did you let this happen? didn't you know what was happening? didn't you understand what lack of action would do for our country and the planet? that is the issue that we face. we need to have the courage now to stand up to extremely wealthy and powerful forces in big energy -- and that's the coal companies, that's the oil companies, the gas companies -- and come up with an alternative vision for energy in america. and in that regard, i am proud to have joined with my colleague, the chair of the environmental committee, senator barbara boxer, to introduce last year the climate protection act. and our bill does what at the end of the day every serious person understands must be done,
and that is to establish a fee on carbon pollution emissions, an approach, by the way, endorsed not just by progressives but also by moderates and also conservatives like george schultz, nobel laureate becker, former reagan advisor laffer, and former republican congressman bob inglis. in other words, there is an understanding that if we are to be serious about addressing the need to cut carbon emissions, there has got to be a tax on those emissions. and our legislation, which has been endorsed by, i believe, almost every major environmental organizations, does several things. what we do in a very, very significant way is invest in energy efficiency and
weatherization, because that is the low-hanging fruit. what we also do is invest very significantly in sustainable energy. and also, importantly, in the event that folks are paying increased costs for electricity or for other areas, much of the money goes -- is returned directly to taxpayers. so let me conclude, mr. president rk b, by saying te following: we can have an honest debate about the best path forward to transform our energy system. this is complicated stuff, and i don't think anyone has the magic answer. so we can debate that. what we can no longer debate: whether climate change is real, whether it is caused by human activity, or whether it is today causing serious harm to our country and serious damage all over this planet, or whether
that devastation will only get worse in years to come. right now we have got to summon up the courage to acknowledge that ware i we are in a crisis situation, that bold action is needed now. and i happen to believe that with the united states playing a leadership role -- china, india, russia, other major consumers of fossil fuels will follow our leadership. our credibility is not much if we are not putting our actions -- if we aren't doing things, compared to just what we're talking about. so if we want to lead the world, we have got to act. and i think this is something that our children and our grandchildren expect of us and something that i hope we can in fact do. with that, mr. president, i would yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the
senator from virginia. mr. kaine: thank you, mr. president. i want to mak thank my colleagus for drawing attention to this issue. i want to start with the solution. the solution to climate change is american innovation. the solution to climate change is american innovation. we have to get beyond the idea, first, that we need to choose between a clean environment and a strong economy. we all want cleaner air and water. we all want jobs. they don't have to contradict each other. when we frame the debate as a conflict between an economy and the environment, we just talk past one another and we're not real stlikreal-- and we're not t our own history. this is sort of a math problem. according to the e.p.a.'s annual inventory of greenhouse gas emissions, the u.s. pumped about
6 billion tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere in 2005. 6 billion tons. the overwhelming scientific consensus is that putting this much pollution into the air is bad for the planet, bad for our kids and for our grandkids. most scientists tell us that we need to reduce emissions about 17% from that peak by 2020 and over 80% by 2050 in order to contain climate change to manageable levels. and so the question is this: how do we establish the appropriate incentives to get that number lower, to produce energy more cleanly, at prices we can afford, in quantities that support modern life? we've got to reduce pollution. we need to create jobs. instead of arguin arguing whichs more important, let's figure out how we can use american innovation to do both. my colleague from vermont has talked a lot about some of the evidence. it is important to pay attention
to patterns. and in virginia we've got huge areas of risk of the negative impacts of climate change, especially sea level rise, all effects that can be traced to carbon pollution. the hampton roads area of virginia is the second-most populous area of our state. 1.6 million people. it is the second-most vulnerable community on the east coast, after new orleans, the eastern half of the united states to sea level rise. so our second-largest arks which is the home of the -- so our second-largest area, which is the home of the naval base, is critical vulnerable to climate change. i have friends who live in hampton roads in live in an historic neighborhood where homes have been occupied for 150 years who just in the last 15 years their home has become completely unable to be occupied. they cannot sell it. there's no way the bank will take it back. there's no way anyone will issue
insurance to them. in addition to being vulnerable because of our coast, our largest industry in virginia is agriculture and forest trivment if you want to -- and forestry. if you want to talk about an industry affected by climate, that's your industry. $70-plus billion affected by climate. stiempltourism is a big industr. that's $20-plus billion a year. we are directly affected by climate and we see extreme weather pearntio patterns. iit is not just a katrina or sandy or ike. it irecently,ious to use a recent example, we're having to deal with this in these halls. we passed a flood insurance to delay short premium increases for flood insurance policies that are subsidized by the national flood insurance program. now, for those who weren't around when we had that debate, these increases in premiums were
not because of new beach homes that millionaires are building right on the floodplain out on the beach. no, these were policies for homes whose owners have lived in them for decades that were never in the floodplains before but are now in floodplains because of sea level rise. my portsmouth friends fit tha io that category cat. they now have a home they cannot sell because of the sea level rise. the debate focused on what it would cause to delay premiums, how many people would be impacted upon the solvency of this program. the larger point is this: premiums are higher because flood risk is higher. when we see flood risks getting higher in every coastal area of the country, we have got to pay attention to what the pattern tells us. and if we don't, we're foolish. now, we have naysayers, and
there are two kinds of naysayers. there are science deniers and leadership deniers, and i want to talk for a minute about both. the first are a group of people who despite the overwhelming scientific consensus say no, there is no scientific evidence that humans affect climate change or that there is even any change in the climate going on at all. despite this overwhelming scientific consensus, the senator from vermont mentions some quotes from members in this body who deny that science exists. to science deniers, i am happy to say that virginians are pro-science. we are pro-science. now, the quintessential virginian, thomas jefferson, was the preeminent scientist of his day. you cannot be a proud virginian and be antiscience. we accept the science in virginia. in fact, the polling overwhelmingly among the virginia public -- and we're not the bluest state in the country. we're a coal-producing state. i'm going to get to that in a minute. even in coal-producing virginia,
the polling shows overwhelmingly that the american -- that the virginia public accepts humans are affecting climate, causing bad things to our economy and we've got to do something about it. now, there is a second argument. it's not science denial, it's leadership denial. these folks may not deny the climate science, but they deny that the u.s. can or should be a leader in taking any steps. they say look, even if we reduce u.s. emission toss zero, it wouldn't offset world emissions unless china or india did something, and so let's just not do anything. that is just not the american way, folks, for us not to lead on something important like that. now, it is true, it is true that we need every country to reduce emissions in the long run, but that's not an argument for the u.s. to do nothing. that's an argument for the u.s. to step up and be leaders. you know, part of leadership is sending the right signals into the market at the right time. that's one of the reasons why i think it would be a very good thing if the president rejected
the proposal to exhand use of -- expand use of tar sands oil. that's right now one of the most powerful things we could do in our country and beyond to show that we could be leaders. it's very difficult to lead and impossible to get people to follow if you're not willing to take a step as the most powerful and innovative economy in the world. we are the largest economy in the world. we have been since 1890. we're the global economic leader. we have a burden of leadership, and if we lead, we will succeed. you know, it's not too hard to reduce emissions. we can reduce them. we're already starting. the senator from vermont mentioned this. i mentioned in 2005, the u.s. was putting six billion tons of co2 into the atmosphere. that was our base year. we have now actually dipped down to 5.6 billion tons. we've reduced it since 2005. thanks to greater energy efficiency, natural gas, uptick
in renewables, better fuel standards in our vehicles. so we're already on a positive path. we're actually on the way to meeting our goal of reducing emissions 17% by the year 2020. we're on the right track. we have just got to take more steps forward. so what's the strategy we need. i hear the president sometimes and others and i may use these words on occasion talk about the -- quote -- all of the above energy strategy. i have decided i don't like that phrase. when i hear somebody say all of the above, it's like when i ask one of my teenagers something and he says whatever. i don't like whatever as an answer because it kind of sounds like indifferent, and anything goes and who cares and what difference does it make? all of the above kind of has that attitude a little bit. now, sure, we should use all of our energy resources, i get that, in a comprehensive strategy, but what we really need is a comprehensive strategy
that reduces co2 emissions. that reduces co2 emissions. such a strategy to reduce emissions does mean everything when solar, geothermal, advanced biofuels. i also think it means natural gas as a bridge fuel to reduce our carbon footprint. nuclear it we can reduce costs and solve disposal issues and yes coal so long as we work to make it burn cleaner. this is my punch line of what we have got to do. we have to do everything cleaner tomorrow than we're doing it today. everything cleaner tomorrow than we're doing it today. we'll have fossil fuels with us for some time and we won't bring emissions to zero any time soon, but just because we can't immediately go from six billion to zero tons of co2, we can't rest on our effort to reduce our co2 every day a little bit more. on fossil fuels, we have got to
take any progress we can that replaces dirty with less dirty even if it doesn't get us the whole way. over time, the portion of our total energy footprint that's carbon based will get smaller, and as we develop more noncarbon alternatives, and it will also get cleaner as we reduce carbon-based energy emissions with better technology. now, this is why i am against dirty fossil fuels like tar sands, which makes us dirtier tomorrow than today. i want to be cleaner tomorrow than today. tar sands oil is about 15% to 20% dirtier than conventional oil. let's not be dirtier tomorrow than today. we have got the trend line moving in the right direction, reducing co2 emissions. let's be cleaner tomorrow than today. why would rebackslide and be dirtier tomorrow? the bottom line is we have got to create energy cleaner tomorrow than today. and remember, it's a math problem. six billion tons a year. we have got six more years to
reduce it 17%, 36 years to reduce it by more than 80%. so we have our goal. we have our goal. we have got to give innovators the tools they need to meet it. and since innovators will solve this problem, here is the really fundamental challenge. this is the fundamental challenge. will americans be the innovators? see, innovation will solve this problem. will americans be the innovators? or will we bury our head in the tar sand and let other nation innovators be the ones who grab leadership in this economy? i don't want to bury my head in the tar sand. i want us to be the leader. will we create new technologies and sell them to other nations or will we be late in the game and have to buy other technologies from other nations? the good news as i said is we're already on our way to the 2020 looks. let's celebrate a little bit of success and then figure out how to celebrate our success.
the transportation sector, the fuel economy standards for cars, changing to natural gas and power production, all these things have helped us move toward lesser emissions. wind is the fastest growing source of new electricity capacity in the world and in the united states, even above natural gas, which is growing rapidly. in a few years, virginia will be contributing with some of the first offshore wind turbines near virginia beach. i want to talk now for a second about a specific virginia issue because i am not sure how many folks who are in this all nighter speaking on this come from states that have coal and that produce coal and virginia does. i want to talk about coal for a second. e.p.a. is expected to issue standards later this year about reducing pollution from coal-fired power plants, and in fact there is already talk on the other side of introducing a bill to reduce that -- repeal the regulations before the regulations even come out. i'm not exactly sure that's kosher, but i suspect we'll be
having that debate later. there is a natural anxiety in a coal-producing region like southwest virginia. that's where my wife's family is from. it's five counties in southwest virginia. they are hard-hit counties. they have -- coal is a big part of their economy, and traditionally it has been. now, we mine as much coal today in virginia as we did 50 years ago with 1/10 of the workers because it's a heavily mechanized industry but there are jobs in the state. and it's not just jobs. coal has been traditionally low priced, and so the issue that is important and even states that don't have any coal often use a lot of coal to produce power, and the low price has been helpful to consumers who rely on cheap and abundant electricity made possible by coal. coal has been hit hard in some recent years. but i disagree, i disagree fundamentally with the kin cal argument that's made by some, mostly in the coal industry, who blame coal's woes on a
regulatory -- quote -- war on coal. when i talk to folks in the industry, they are always talking about that there is a federal -- quote -- war on coal. i'm going to tell you what's hurting coal. what's hurting coal is innovation, innovation and natural gas. innovation in the natural gas industry has brought natural gas prices down, and utilities are deciding to use natural gas rather than coal. that's what's hurting coal these days, and we ought to take a lesson from that. innovation is driving environmental cleanliness. innovation is driving lower costs. the solution is not to stop innovation. the solution is not to shake your fist and blame regulation. the solution is to innovate. coal currently accounts for 37% of u.s. electricity generation and about the same percentage in virginia. we don't have today 37% of anything else that can step right in and replace coal, which
means we need coal, we're going to be using it for a while. since we need to reduce emissions, do it cleaner tomorrow than today and we're going to need coal for a while, the challenge is to convert coal to electricity with less pollution than we do today. we have to innovate to make coal cleaner for that portugal of the pie chart. i learned this as governor working in a state-of-the-art coal plant in virginia. it opened in 2012. it's designed in a way that dramatically reduces sulfur dioxide, my trust oxide, mercury emissions and water use. it was also a plant that was only permitted when the company that wanted it agreed to take a dirty coal plant that preexisted the clean air act and was grandfathered in for all of its pollution and to convert that to natural gas. that was innovative. the fuel mix of this plant needed to run the burners, accommodates biomass and waste coal as well. if we can use innovative
practices to reduce these emissions, we can do the same thing with carbon emissions. but coal cannot stand still, let others innovate and then complain if it's not competitive. coal has got to be as innovative as everything else and we have to figure out ways to assist. that's why i support federal investments in advanced fossil energy research and development. last fall, the energy department made available $8 billion. in advance fossil energy loan guarantee authority for low carbon fossil technologies. i advocated for appropriations for fossil energy r&d and there is a strong boost for those programs in the omnibus budget bill. there is a great center for coal and energy research at virginia tech that's doing some of this research that can help us take that portion of the pie chart, make it cleaner and over time make it smaller as we expand on carbon energy. we have got to make sure that the upcoming standards the e.p.a. will put out are ambitious and appropriate incentives to get cleaner and disincentives to get dirtier and at the same time avoiding
catastrophic disruptions in reliability or affordability. i'm going to come back and conclude where i started. remember i started and said i will give you cot collusion. the solution to climbing is innovations. reducing air pollution is a hard problem. most pollutants tend to come from a particular economic sector, but co2 comes from transportation and buildings and manufacturing and power prowks, all sectors -- productions, all sectors so the solution won't be simple. but we do not have to accept the false choice of an environment against the economy. instead, we just need to innovate to find the solution. that's the innovation challenge we have, and i make it a habit, apparently unlike some of my colleagues here, to never bet against american innovation, to never bet against american innovation. we're the nation that said we put a man on the moon in a decade with computers that have less in it than your cell phone
do, and we did it. we're the nation that harnessed the power of the atom. we're the nation that unwrapped the riddle of d.n.a. and are now using that knowledge to cure disease. nobody should ever bet against american innovation. in fact, we have already shown it again and again that innovation and regulation, smart regulation can help us tackle pressing environmental problems. when we were kids and my wife was growing up in richmond where we now live, nobody, and i mean nobody, fished or swam in the james river in downtown richmond. you would be taking your life into your hands if you swam or if you ate fish that you caught in that river because of pollution, other industrial pollution and poor treatment of municipal solid waste. but the nation passed the clean water act and we got serious about cleaning up our rivers. naysayers said it will damage the economy. it will bring our economy to its
knees. but come and see what the clean water act has meant to my hometown. you can swim or fish in the james river today and you can eat the fish that you catch. you can see herons and bald eagles there that were never there before. you can see residents and tourists who flock to the james river because they enjoy it. it took a law, it took some tough regulations, it took american ingenuity in finding new ways to clean up industrial and municipal waste, but we did it and our environment and economy are better off as a result. when we needed to reduce my trust oxide and sulfur dioxide emissions because of acid rain, the industry said the new law would be a burdensome job killer just like they are saying today, but president george w. bush worked with congress to pass a cap-and-trade law to bring down these emissions. after the new law, somebody inverted the catalytic converter and the sulfur scrubber. not only were they not burde
burdensome job killers, they helped air quality. and created jobs for companies that manufactured catalytic converters and scrubbers. not long ago we heard requiring automakers to make cars with better auto mileage would be devastating to the auto industry. president obama struck a deal with the industry and, guess what? the quest to build more efficient vehicles helped revitalize an american auto industry that was on its back. plants that were operating with skeleton crews just sweeping the floors at night now have multiple shifts making better vehicles that save drivers more money. the skeptics were loud but we moved ahead with smart regulation and american innovation and our environment and economy are better off as a result. mr. president, it is the skeptics and the deniers who fight against these strategies
who are actually naive. the skeptics and deniers are the naive ones. because again and again, they always claim that taking steps to help the environment will hurt the economy. and again and again, they've been proven wrong. protecting the environment is good for the economy and good for the environment. so i say to the climate deniers or learship deniers, don't underestimate american innovation. we can solve the problem of climate change for the good of the economy and the good of the planet. the story of american innovation is a story of solving the hard problems and i know question solve this one. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from minnesotament ms. klobuchar: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that four -- five fellows from senator schatz' office who are fellows in his office be given floor privileges for the remainder of this session.
the physical lows are brian bell, james chang, jamie lawrence, mosen said and timothy taura. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. klobuchar: thank you very much, mr. president. i appreciate the comments of my colleague from virginia. as i look around the chamber today and i see the senators from vermont, from virginia, from hawaii, from california, these senators maybe 5,000, 5,000 miles apart, but what unites them today, including your home state of maine, is a focus on climate change and the recognition that we're connected by the impacts of global climate change. it's time for congress to wake up and to tackle this issue. that's why we're staying up all night tonight, to make that major point. the consequences of climate change include rising seas and
large tidal surges for seaside communities, the devastating drought and water shortage we're seeing in california, extreme water hurting the native habitats in hawaii. but it also impacts the midwest and i don't think that's the first area of the country people think about when they think about where we're seeing climate change problems. we have seen increased potential in my home state of minnesota for extreme weather wreaking havoc on our local economy, particularly those anchored in forestry and in farming. in minnesota, we export about one-third of our agricultural production, which contributes significantly to our country's record high agriculture trade surplus of $38 billion. this is a major part of our economy and second biggest industry in my state. look at the 2012 drought in minnesota. it threatened our ability to produce the food needed to feed a growing world. i look at our lakes and our rivers. for many years our snowmobilers and our tourism industry, our
ice fishers couldn't even get out. they had to cancel many, many, many things because -- not this year -- but many years before that we had issues with the heat in the middle of the winter and we certainly had issues with the heat in the summer. what's in this industry? well, mr. president, every year nearly 2 million people fish in our lakes and streams and close to 700,000 people hunt our fields and forests. nationwide the hunting and fishing industry is valued at $95.5 billion a year and brings in $14 billion in direct tax revenue. that's why as a member of the farm belt conference committee, we work very hard with conservation groups like ducks inlimited and pheasants forever to make sure we have strong conservation protection in that bill and new ideas like the sod saver provision that senator thune and i introduced and got signed in to law. so for the people of our state, the economic impacts of climate change is about their
livelihood. it's about a way of life. i mentioned the 2012 drought. it was the worst drought since 1956 and cost over $30 billion in damage nationwide. the drought was uneven in our state. you would visit one farmer, their crops were fine. you'd go down to the next county and their crops would be devastated. at the same time, as some farmers were experiencing not enough rain, farmers in other parts of our state actually lost their crops due to flash floods. research that looks at weather changes in minnesota indicates that extreme weather events, which include heavy rainfall, are becoming more and more frequent. these are costs that are borne heavily by farmers, ranchers, by consumers. these production costs lose revenue, they lose supply, they drive up costs at the grocery store for everyone. now, one of the things that i don't think people always think about when they think about the economic connection with climate change, in the midwest we think about our crops, we think about extreme weather with tornado and flash floods and extreme heat
and drought. but it actually affects the transportation of goods to market. in 2012, lake superior was near its lowest level in the last 80 years, impacting our ability to transport cargo. it's simple -- the heat was there, the water wasn't there. the barges couldn't be filled all the way because the water was simply too shallow. why is this happening? well, in the years when we don't have solid ice cover, the ice is melting more quickly so the water evaporates and you see lower water levels in places like the major lake superior. this isn't just a problem for lake superior. it's also a critical issue impacting the shipping industry on the mississippi river. the mississippi moves hundreds of millions of tons of goods such as corn, grain, coal and petroleum. the mississippi river starts in minnesota, mr. chair, and maybe you haven't done this but you can actually walk over the mississippi in minnesota at a state park. the 2012 drought led to low
water conditions that made barge travel down the mississippi very difficult. if shipping were completely cut off, as was possible, the economic repercussions would be severe. if barge traffic is disrupted, cargo valued at over $7 billion could experience shipping delays, including 300 million bushels of farm products, 3.8 million tons of coal, and 5 million barrels of domestically produce order crude oil. a prolonged shipping delay would be devastating to the bottom lines of farmers, of businesses, of common citizens. these are just a few examples of the economic costs of climate change. mr. president, global climate change is a challenge with so many dimensions, some moral, some economic, some scientific, and i want to spend a few minutes, as i know my colleague from vermont did, talking about the science. my colleague from virginia talked about virginia being the home of science. i kind of wanted to break in and say, well, we have the mayo clinic. minnesota is truly a home of science. we are the home of great medical institutions.
we helped launch the green revolution in agriculture with university of minnesota alum norm an burlog a half century ago. we have brought the world everything from the pace make to her the post-it note. we believe in science. climate change doesn't mean, as we know the science, that every day we will have a hurricane in the gulf coast or that every day will be as hot and sticky as a very hundred-degree humid minnesota afternoon, but scientists say we're sure to see more days outside of that range of normal, and that includes extremes of all kinds. in fact, scientists at nasa found that at 2013, factoring all the cold temperatures that minnesotans bravely endured last year, the u.s. was still warmer by 1.1 degrees fahrenheit than the mid-20th century average. mr. president, the last time the u.s. had a below-average annual temperature was 1976. climate change means simply that over time, the average
temperature is getting warmer and that weather patterns are changing and becoming less predictable. and how many times have we both heard in our states, this is the hottest summer i can remember? i can't believe it warmed up this quickly. i can't believe the ice is meltly this quickly. the debate on weather climate change is happening should be over. the facts are in and the science it clear. the national academy of sciences finds that climate change is occur. it's very likely caused primarily by the emission of greenhouse gases from human activities and poses significant risks for a range of human and natural systems. we know that certain kinds of gases, including carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide absorb or trap the sun's heat as it bounces off the earth's surface. this wouldn't be such a big problem except that carbon dioxide doesn't dissipate quickly. it stays in the atmosphere for five decades or more, causing earth's temperatures to rise. this means that most of the carbon dioxide produced in the 1950's and 1960's, the 1970's
and the 1980's is still in the atmosphere today. it means that carbon dioxide produced today will still be in the atmosphere in 2050 and beyond. this carbon dioxide trapping heat is in our atmosphere. over time it means global temperatures rise, in turn sea levels rise, both because waters expand as the oceans warm and glaciers melt. the on 2013 draft national climate assessment found that human induced climate change is projected to continue and accelerate significantly if emissions of these heat-trapping gases continue to increase. in short, there is robust scientific evidence that human climate change is occurring. climate change is impacting our nation's systems in significant ways and that is likely to accelerate in the future. the result is ocean levels are rising, glaciers are melting, violent weather events are increasing, and certainly we've seen them in my state. now, when it comes to climate
and environmental policy, i think we all know we've seen gridlock in this country, just as we've seen it in so many ways. despite your good efforts, as the independent senator from maine, in trying to break through, and mine, as someone that came out of a background that wasn't at all partisan. i was involved early on in kent conrad's bipartisan energy group during my first few years if the senate when we were trying to forge some kind of a compromise on a policy approach to energy and the environment that brought people together. we were stymied in our effort. i served on the environmental committee for many years under senator boxer's leadership. we were again stymied in our efforts. and i look back, as i look at the moments where we could actually move on this issue, where the nation was captivated, i think we blew it. we blew it when president bush stood before the american people after 9/11 and if he had really sold the nation on energy independence from the countries that were involved in that
tragic, tragic, tragic, historic moment, if he had made the case for a new american energy agen agenda, if he had done that, i believe 80% of americans then would have said, sign me up. that didn't happen. the second moment we lost was during the summer of 2008. you weren't in the senate then. i was a brand-new senator. we actually took action. we raised gas mileage standards for the first time since i was in junior high. we also made some energy efficiency improvements. i call them building a fridge to the next century. we did that but we fell short of one important thing, and we didn't just fall short, we fell one vote short of beating the filibuster. one vote short, mr. president, of beating the filibuster to get a renewable electricity standard, a national renewable electricity standard like we have in minnesota. that was a lost moment, a lost moment by one vote. the third moment that we lost was when president obama first came in office. we had some new senators. we were in the middle of a downturn. it was an incredibly tough time.
but i still believe then, as i said many times on this floor, if we had moved forward on a renewable electricity standard at that time, in those first six months, with those new senators when we had just been one vote short, we would have passed that with the house of representatives. we chose to go do some other things with the environmental committee. we passed a bill but we were, unfortunately, unable to get it done on the senate floor. that's where we are. so when's the next opportunity? well, the next opportunity is now. we have the potential for leadership on energy. we have the potential because of the people in this country, the innovators that senator kaine so eloquently talked about. i continue to be optimistic. i wouldn't be standing here late at night if i wasn't. i actually -- this desk is the desk of hubert humphrey, who was known as the happy warrior. he was willing to tackle anything that came his way. why am i optimistic? well, the first is the leader of gina mccarthy at the e.p.a. her background working republican governors, her
reputation among business leaders as being tough but fair, and her experience navigating the ways of washington make her well-suited to look at the bigger-picture issues. as someone who comes from an ag state, i understand full well how the e.p.a. can sometimes get bogged down in minor issues, from my perspective, taking on things that create a huge firestorm but actually don't solve the problem. i believe that this administrator, gina mccarthy, is going to look at the larger mission of the e.p.a., especially when it comes to climate change. secondly, i'm optimistic because we still have some good things going on. the washington post ran an editorial last fall where the editorial board wrote, "the overwhelming problem is that congress hasn't faced up to the global warming threat. instead of building a policy that addresses the unique challenge of greenhouse gas emissions, it has left the e.p.a. and the courts with a
strong and sometimes ambiguous law that aplies imperfectly to greenhouse gas emissions." that's true. that's why we have something to do here. given the current mix right now, given what we're facing on this issue, i still believe what can we do this year? this year we can be pragmatic. we can foster leadership. we passed the farm bill, which had some good things in there for conservation and the environment. another arks the shaheen-portman energy efficiency bill, which contains policies that would reduce commercial and industrial use. not every bill is supported with e from the chamber and n.a.m. to many environmental groups. this bill is. this leads to my third reason for hope. there is a lot of businesses out there that have realized they can't afford the pure cost of the old way of doing things. more and more businesses are seeing the good and going green, whether it is wal-mart in its push towards energy efficiency
or apple work toward its goal of getting 100% of its energy from renewables. a fourth reason i to be positive is because there are some economic forces that are actually moving in the right direction. we have reduced our dependency on foreign oil in just the last seven years from 60% to 40%. it is a combination of things. yes, it is some of the natural gas and drilling in north dakota. but we also have stronger vehicle gas mileage standard. we have biofuels. we have cleaner fuels. we are moving on a number of fronts. look at the efforts on the state level ranging from the rules in texas that are helping to encourage the construction of transmission lines bringing wind energy from the plains to the homes and businesses, to colorado's strong renewable portfolio standard and the use of woody biomass for power. i would as my own state of minnesota where we have a renewable electricity standard requiring 25% of electricity
coming from renewable sources by 202567825. excel energy is on its way to meet their even more ambitious standard. by law they will get 30% of their electricity from renewable sources by 2020. i have met with their c.e.o. therthey are more than on theiry to meeting that standard. they believe in wind. they believe in renewables. the bill that we passed in minnesota be, which could be a model for the nation, has overwhelming bipartisan support. it had bipartisan support when it passed nearl. nearly every legislator voted for it. the investment in renewable energies and energy efficiency technology means that excel is actually on their path to reduce their greenhouse emissions by 31%. they will cut their emissions a full 11 percentage points by 2020, more than the standards proposed by the past cap-and-trade law that came out of the environment committee.
minnesota power is another utility in our state this a. they're working to meet the state's renewable portfolio standard by bringing more wind energy onto the grid. they are looking to keep costs low for their consumers by using canadian hydropower to back up the new wind resources. because the wind doesn't always blow in minnesota, the height droa power will act as a battery storing energy when there is too much on the grid and providing electricity when it is needed. by working together, we can get more wind and solar energy onto the grid in a which that provides reliable service and keeps prices low for our consumers. the rural electric co-ops also implemented another way to make better use of wind energy in minnesota, to make our goal of 25% by 2025. they've installed thousands of large-capacity hot water heaters in people's basements. how does something as basic and boring as hot water heater play a role in reducing energy consumption and addressing climate change?
these hot water heaters are only turned on at night when the wind blows the strongest and the demand for energy is the lowest. in the morning of the heat is already off. it is stored in the form of hot water used throughout the day. heating water is a major source of energy consumption and our co-ops have found bay to provide a service in a way that incentivizes wind development and saves consumers money. it was supreme court justice louis brandeis who said the states are the laboratories of democracy. and we're certainly seeing that right now with energy and environmental policy. i would like to see a major federal policy back at those moments that i went through, back when bush was president and then tragedy of 9/11 occurred, back when we had that vote in the summer when we missed the renewable electricity standard by just one vote. but i'm hopeful that we'll get back to a point where compromise is possible in washington and we will get there just as the american people have demanded.
and when we get there, we know that the states are our useful models for how to tbet this done. before we can get on a comprehensive national blueprint for climate policy in this country, we need to bring together americans that share these values and speak with a common voice. we're starting that discussion tonight. the message is to get congress to wake up and get the job dofnlt as i close here, mr. president, i think about this challenge and i recall a prayer from the ojibwa people in minnesota. their philosophy told them that the decisions of great leaders are not made for today, not made for this generation, but leaders must make decisions for those that are seven generations from now. that was the ojibwa philosophy. that's what led them to take care of their land. this is now part of our burden and part of our challenge as we approach this issue. i have always believed that we should be stewards of the land. in the past leaders from both parties -- you know this so well
from maine -- have worked to protect our land, keep our air and water clean. president theodore roosevelt took executive action to create the national park system, which ken burns that is called "america's best ideas." congress has come together to make great progress protecting our national resources. the 1970 clean air act passed in the senate 73-0 and the house by a vote of 371-1. the clean water act in the house, the final vote was over 10-1 in favor of this landmark legislation to protect our water. global climate change is our generation's challenge to solve. it is our generation's challenge. i believe that if we work together constructively, we can address this threat. we can be stewards of our world. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor.
a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from massachusetts. mr. markey: mr. president, i am honored to be joining senator schatz, who has been working with senator whitehouse and senator boxer, to put together this very, very important discussion, very important evening. but while we're discussing climate change, first i would -- i thought that i would tak talka little bit about baseball. and i would like to basically say to the senate that something very funny happened in baseball, because from 1920 all the way through the entire modern baseball history, the average number of players who hit more than 40 home runs in a season
was three. that's all. babe ruth, hank grownberg, micky mantle, joe dimaggio -- no matter who was playing baseball in the united states, the average number of home runs was 3.3 who made it over 40 home runs in a season. then something very strange started to happen. all of a sudden there was a dramatic spike in the number of players who could hit more than 40 home runs. in 1996 it went up to 17 players all of a sudden. the average was only 3.3 who hit more than 40 home runs. and year after year the same thing was occurring. and then it occurred to someone: maybe they're injecting these players with stair roidz. in our, some people said, no, the ballparks are getting smaller. maybe they're corking the bats. maybe they're juicing the
baseball. but, no, it turned out that they were injecting steroids into baseball players. and all of a sudden the average of 3.3 players averaging more than 40 home runs in a season had spiked to three and four times that, until major league baseball decided that they were going to test for steroids. and a very strange thing started to havment th happen. the average number of players hitting hom 40 home runs went dn to the traditional average. well, ladies and gentlemen, noaa has the same kind of a chart for a our climate. noaa has been able to do the calculation going back to 1880 of what the average temperature is. the average temperature is on the planet. as you can see, it stayed at a pretty current level until all
of a sudden, especially beginning in the 1970's. a dramatic spike. as we all know, 20 of the warmest 30 years ever registered have occurred in the last 30 years. as we all know, the fourth-warmest year of all-time ever recorded occurred just last year, 2013. but we haven't applied the same steroids-equivalent test for this change in temperature. but we have a pretty good idea of what's happened because scientists all across the united states agree on this issue. that it is managemade. that -- that it is man-made. that is, that the chemicals we are putting into the atmosphere are caution the same kind of spike that the chemicals that ballplayers were putting into their bodies were causing in the dramatic rise in the number of
home runs that were being hit in major league baseball. so this is just basically an obvious correlation between what we're doing as human beings and the impact on the world in which we live. and just as those home runs went up when the players would juice, so, too, has the temperature on the planet. and the same distortion that occurred in our national pasttime is now occurring on our planet. but, ladies and gentlemen, the planet is running a fever, but there are no emergency rooms for planets. flr nthere are no hospitals to . we have to engage in preventive care. we have to put in place the measures that reduce dramatically the likelihood that we are going to see the worst catastrophic effects of this dangerous warming of our planet.
and if you're still skeptical, then perhaps the findings of another concep skeptic, dr. ricd mueller, and his colleagues at the berkeley earth temperature surface percentage. let me quote from "the new york times" column entitled "the conversion of a climate change skeptic." here's what he said. he said, "our results show that the average temperature of the earth's land has risen by 2.5 degrees fahrenheit over the last 250 years, including an increase of 1.5 degrees over the most recent 50 years. moreover, it appears likely that essentially all of this increase results from the human emissions of greenhouse gases." now, our current understanding of human influence on climate change rests on 150 years of
wide-ranging scientific observations and research, and it is informed by what we see today, with our own eyes, measured by our own hands. global temperatures are warming. glaciers are melting. sea levels are rising. extreme downpours are increasing. the ocean is becoming more acidic. but climate change is more than just numbers in a scientist's st book. in my home state of massachusetts, it is having tangible impacts now. my state, massachusetts, loses an average of 49 football fields of land to rising sea levels each and every year. rates of sea level rise from north carolina to massachusetts are two to four times faster than the global average. extreme downpours and snowfalls in new england have increased by 85% since 1948.
according to scientists at the university of new hampshire, new england winters have become four degrees warmer on averages since 1965. in other words, we now have in new england the same weather that philadelphia had in 1965. we are four degrees warmer than we were in new england in 1965. we have philadelphia's weather. thank god in boston we don't have their athletic teams, but we do have their weather. and it's getting warmer. it's getting warmer. in massachusetts and most of new england, spring is sprung five days earlier on average than it did in the latter part of the 20th century. around the iconic walden pond, plants now flower ten days earlier on average than they did in the 1850's compared to the careful records kept by henry david thoreau.
our iconic cod have been moving north as ocean temperatures warm. cod need cold water. as the ocean warms, they're moving further and further north. cape cod is our iconic beachfront, oceanfront, fishing front in our state. the cod are moving north and away from our state because they need cold water. the coastal communities that depend upon them are being affected negatively by the absence of these fish. and scientists are just beginning to understand the consequences of the increasingly acidic ocean on scallops, plankton and lobsters which are the basic food chain in the gulf of maine. and as dr. aaron bernstein from the harvard school of public health has written, climate change is a health threat, no
less consequential than cigarette smoking. increasing temperatures increase the risk for bad air days, in turn increasing the risk of asthma attacks and worse for people with lung disease. here are just two stories -- rachel from cambridge, sylvia from am hers where their moms talk -- from amherst where their moms talk about the impact of pollution on the health of their children. i think it's important for us to understand that asthma, other illnesses that are created by preventable but only if we here in the senate put in place the policies that make it possible for us to reduce the risk to these young people all across our country. and i strongly support all of the efforts that the members are putting together here tonight to focus upon this issue because it's not just the planet. it is the children of the planet
who are negatively enacted by all of -- impacted by all of this additional pollution. left unchecked, the impacts of climbing will only -- of climate change will only become worse in the future. animals by the sandia national lab found that changes in rainfall alone could cost massachusetts $8 billion in g.d.p. and nearly 38,000 jobs between 2010 and 2050. that's just massachusetts alone. new england could see a $22 billion hit to our g.d.p. and almost 100,000 jobs lost from changing description patterns. sea level rise will also threaten coastal communities where a third of massachusetts' population lives. the seas are getting hotter, they are getting higher and those hotter, higher seas are making storms more damaging.
storm surges on top of sea level rise could cause hundreds of billions in damages to cities on the massachusetts coast during the next decade. in 1775, paul revere warned massachusetts revolutionaries of an invasion coming from the sea. with climate change, boston and the baystate could now face an invasion of the sea itself in massachusetts. and all across new england. as sea levels rise and storms become more severe, many of boston's best-known landmarks will be threatened, including daniel hall and quincy market, north station, copley church, john hancock tower, the public garden. the back bay will revert to its original personality as a bay. we just have to be realistic about this. the threats are there. scientists are warning us this
can happen. there but for the grace of god and a few degrees in hurricane sandy would have been what the city of boston looked like. we have been warned. anybody who hasn't been hit by a hurricane sandy yet has been warned. it is coming and it will be worse than hurricane sandy. by the end of the century, massachusetts summers could feel like north carolina's. not philadelphia's but by the end of the century, the temperatures are just going to keep warming. by 2100, maine could be the only state in new england that still has a skiing industry. that is how rapidly the snowes are disappearing. the economic impact of climate change isn't confined to new england because we already feel the costs of climate disruption. the g.a.o. added climate change to its 2013 high-risk based
on -- in large part on two reports they did at my request. g.a.o. found that climate change presents a significant financial risk to the federal government. g.a.o. could just have easily said it presents a significant financial risk for all of america. as daunting as the impacts to climate change are, the good news is we have the solutions to address it. we can generate good jobs in america that are also good for saving all of creation. wind and solar, we have there a tale of two tax policies. here's the solar industry in the united states. back in 2007, there was a production of perhaps 200 megawatts of electricity from solar. it was at the dawn of the solar industry. it wasn't as though the sun hadn't been up there or the
technologies that did not exist, that did not -- that could not have been created in order to capture it, but the tax policies were not there. and so in 2008, the congress passed a law which added an eight-year tax incentive by the solar industry, and you can see what happened to this industry that had been denigrated four years. up to last year where 5,000 new megawatts, think of five seabrook nuclear power plants of electricity just generated by solar in one year. and that tax break stays on the books all the way until the end of 2016, and by the end of 2016, there is an expectation that 10,000 new megawatts of solar will be installed in the united states in one year, ladies and gentlemen, one year. if we keep those tax breaks on the books. but you can see what happens when there is a consistent,
predictable tax policy on the books. now let me show you another tax policy. let me show you another tax policy, and this is the tax policy for the wind industry. the wind industry hasn't had the same good fortune which the solar industry has had. every time there is a tax policy that is put on the books, wind starts to build, upwards of 2,000 megawatts in 2001. but then the tax policy evaporated and it collapsed as an industry. we put it back on the books. it went back up to 2,000 megawatts, it expired at the end of that year, it collapsed again. but then 2005, we put a policy on the books that began to see the kind of installation of wind that we knew was possible from the beginning of time. we all knew it. we all knew that the dutch were
right with those windmills. we all knew there was something to it, but there was no tax policy that was consistent. until we reached 2012 when unbelievably 12,000 new megawatts of wind were installed in the united states. 13 nuclear power plants. there is only 100,000 megawatts of nuclear power in the united states after 70 years of tax subsidies. look what happened with wind in one year, 13,000 megawatts. but then it expires and it collapsed down to only 2,000 megawatts in the year 2013. that's our challenge, ladies and gentlemen. if we give the same kind of predictable tax treatment, the same kind of policy treatment to these renewable energy resources that were given to the oil industry over the last century, they have a lot to worry about. and by the way, you don't have to worry about the oil industry and the gas industry. their tax policy stay just the
same through good times and bad for the oil industry, they keep the same tax breaks on the books. they know they can rely upon them. they know those two industries, that that's $7 billion in tax breaks that they rely upon is going to be there year after year after year. now, let's talk about what else can happen in other industries. let's talk about the automotive industry. the gentlelady that -- the senator from minnesota just talked about the few economy standards that we put on the books. look what's happened since the fuel economy standards were put on the books and implemented by barack obama, because george bush did not implement them. now, i'm proud to be the host author of those fuel economy standards but it took barack obama to put them on the books.
54.5 miles per gallon by the year 2026, and now we're up nearing 600,000 hybrids, plug-in vehicles and all-electric vehicles per year. it's just skyrocketing. ford, general motors, chrysler, they are reporting record profits, record sales. people will buy them. you've got to create the policy, though, in the country. by the way, that one policy, fuel economy standards that was put on the books in 2007 in this body and over in the house of representatives, it backs out four million barrels of oil per day that we import into our country by the year 2040 when all these standards that we put on the books are finally implemented. how much is that? we import three million barrels of oil a day from the persian gulf. the united states does that. three million barrels a day. we're backing up four million just by putting together a policy that incentivizes the industry to invest in the kinds of technologies that americans
want to buy and citizens around this planet want to buy. wind, solar, hybrids, all-electric vehicles. it's all there. it is what we can do in order to create jobs and at the same time save the planet. and i'll give you some other numbers because i think they're really relevant. the coal industry now has 80,000 employees. the wind industry has 80,000 employees in the united states. you saw how low it was in 2007? well, 80,000 employees now. the solar industry has 142,000 employees. coal only has 80,000. you saw what happened from the moment that predictable tax policy went on the books until today. and it is continuing to go off the charts, but we know there is going to be people who are going to be out here fighting to take
away those tax breaks, to compromise the ability of the e.p.a. or the department of transportation to keep those standards on the books. now, back in the 1990's, i was the chairman of the telecommunications committee in the house of representatives, and i was able to put three bills on the books. one created the 18-inch satellite dish. another one created the third, fourth, fifth and sixth cell phone license. that's what drove the price of a phone call that people make from 50 cents a minute down to ten cents a minute. 1996 is the year you started to have one of these devices in your pocket. at 50 cents a minute, you didn't have one. by the way, it was the size of a brick before that bill passed. and finally, the 1996 telecommunications act. that's what moved us from analog to digital. that's what moved us from narrow band to broadband. that's what created this revolution of google, ebay,
amazon, youtube, facebook. all of that happened because of policies that were created in the house and the senate and signed by the president. and unleashed $1 trillion worth of private sector investment. and it revolutionized villages in africa and asia to here square. those are our technologies. we invented them and sold them around the world. we have the same kind of economic possibility for renewable energy, for new energy technologies as we have in the telecommunications sector and we have a chance to cap another $1 trillion to $2 trillion worth of investment in the private sector. now, let's move on to our nation's carbon emissions from energy from fossil fuels. the total amount of greenhouse gases in our country from energy sources fell from 2005 to 2012
by 12%. we installed more wind, more solar, fuel-efficient vehicles. we got more efficient and we reduced our coal use. 2005 to 2012. but in 2013, that reversed. and the u.s. carbon dioxide emissions from energy sources increased by 2% in 2013. what happened? the price of natural gas increased in 2013 by 27%. as a result, u.s. electric utilities returned to burning more coal and using less natural gas. u.s. energy-related carbon emissions are still 10% below 2005 levels, but to keep driving them down, we need to keep the price of natural gas low and continue to drive the deployment of wind and solar up. for the oil and gas industry, the crisis in the ukraine is an opportunity to throw open the doors to unrestrained exports of
american natural gas. but the notion that gas exports will help ukraine is an illusion. it's a tallisman, some lucky charm. this is a simple matter of geoeconomics, geology and geopolitics. we've already approved five export terminals that could send 4 trillion cubic feet of natural gas abroad every year. that's nearly equal to all the gas consumed by every home in america. just take that slice of the pie and we're going to export all that natural gas. that's twice as much as the ukraine consumes every year. exporting natural gas could raise u.s. prices upwards of 50% and create an energy tax of $62 billion each year on american consumers and businesses and it will put the coal industry back in business. because coal will then be less expensive than natural gas. and our ability to meet this goal of reducing greenhouse gases will be replaced by a
policy to export all the natural gas that we can get to the ports of the united states. and the lower our supply, the higher the prices are going to be for the remaining natural gas within our boundaries. and the energy information agency says just with the terminals being proposed, it's an 82% increase in the price for gas last year. we saw it last year. we have to be realistic about this whole debate in the ukraine, about what it means for us. by the way, it's been what's been leading to manufacturers returning to the united states. it's what is a big part of why there is a move towards natural gas vehicles, which also back out imported oil. but the higher natural gas prices are is the more we undermine our ability to make real progress on climate change, on manufacturing, on natural gas vehicles, on utilities moving
from coal over to natural gas. that is our challenge as a people. and then finally, we -- ladies and gentlemen, we are the leader, not the la laggards. the whole world is looking at us. so much of that co2 is red, white and blue. and they look to us to be the leader. you started your industrial revolution in the 19th century, they say to us. if you want us to reduce our greenhouse gases, you reduce yours. and so we cannot abdicate this responsibility. last week i had a conference down here in washington, globe. these are a hundred legislators from around the world who came here. "the" key players on energy and environment in each country in the world. we had a conference over in the russell building.
in each of these -- and each of these legislators say that they are looking to us for the leadership. 500 new laws have been put on the books over the last 15 years in these countries on climate change. but the question comes to us: what are you going to do this year, next year, the year after on these issues? because their countries are even more vulnerable than our countries are. they do not have the resources which our country has. and so that is our opportunity. henry waxman and i, we built a coalition of utilities, of businesses, of labor, of faith, environmental groups, concerned citizens in 2009. the pieces are still out there, my colleagues. we can do it again. but we are going to need everyone's help. recently, the books of massachusetts author and national treasure, dr. seuss, have been popular and read on the senate floor.
i wish i had time to read the entirety of his environmental classic "the lorax." but since there are so many senators who want to talk about the impacts of climate change and the benefits addressing it will bring our country, i will just have to close with this short portion. here's what it says. "but now, says the wunsler, now that you're here, the word of the lorax seems perfectly clear. unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. it's not." so to my colleagues here in the senate and everyone watching and following tonight, thank you for caring a whole awful lot. because it's not for us, it's for all the subsequent generations of this country and this planet that are looking to this chamber for the leadership. and we are going to make things
better from tonight onward. this is a moment. the science is clear. the economics is clear. and now the politics is clear. we're going to have a big fight about this in 2014 because future generations are going to look back and know that this senate stood up and we had the debate on the most important issue facing this planet. madam president, i yield back the balance of my time. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from maine is recognized. mr. king: madam president, facing challenges is hard. the bigger the challenge, the harder it is to face it, because facing a significant challenge always involves risk, always involves a little uncertainty,
always involves effort, always involves cost, always involves inconvenience, always involves change. the most profound observation i ever heard about change is, everybody's for progress; nobody's for change. in the 1930's, europe, and particularly england, faced a challenge. they faced a challenge that was to their very survival. but for almost the entire decade of the 1930's, england didn't face that challenge, they did not act. even though the data was overwhelming. even though the facts were compelling, even though their greatest parliamentarian, the greatest parliamentarian in english history, at least recent english history, continuously warned them. winston churchill spent a good part of the 1930's warning his country about the dangers of the
rise of nazi germany. but people didn't listen and they didn't listen for much the same reason that i think people aren't listening now. because it's hard to take on a new challenge, it's hard to take on something that will have a cost, it's hard to take on something that will entail risk. but ignoring warnings have consequences. in the case of the 1930's in england and the ignoring of winston churchill's warnings, the consequences were 55 million people dead. most historians believe hitler could have been stopped in 1938, 1939. but instead of facing the challenge, people said, it's too expensive, it's too inconvenie inconvenient, it's too much a change. we're exhausted from world war
i. and that's perfectly understandable, but the consequences, mr. president, were catastrophic. that's where we are today. we're facing a daunting challenge. all of us speaking tonight, this isn't easy. we can outline the problems but the solutions aren't easy and the solutions aren't going to be free. the solutions are going to involve change, they're going to involve investment, they're going to involve innovation and they're going to involve facing up to a challenge that is very, very serious. now, there are lots of ways to think about this. one way is, all of us have health insurance. we all have homeowners insurance, even simpler than health insurance. homeowners insurance, basically we're insuring our home against burning down. what's the risk of your house catching fire?
1-2? no. 1-365? will your house burn down once a year? no. 1-3,650? i expect it's 1-10,000 or 1-20,000. but every family in america is paying an average of $800 or $900 a year to ensure against a 1-10,000 risk. but we're being told here in this body, in this country that we can't take steps to insure ourselves against a risk which 98% of the scientific evidence says is a dead certainty. i don't want to take that risk. now, people say, "you're wrong, angus, this isn't true, it isn't going to happen." maybe i am. maybe we are. maybe that 98% of climate scientists who have spent their lives studying this issue are
wrong. i hope they are. i hope i am. but what if we're not wrong? the consequences are almost unimaginable. now, i myself, although i have a long history of involvement in environmental matters in maine, i was a climate skeptic. i heard all the arguments about it and i said, well, you know, i don't really know whether this is true. i -- you know, i -- you can argue it both ways. until about five years ago i ran across a little chart and the chart, to me, answered the whole question. and here's the chart. this is a million years of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and we often hear carbon dioxide naturally goes up and down in the atmosphere. well, yes, it does. that's what these figures are. but for 800 or 900,000-plus years, it ranged between 160
parts per million to about 250 or 275. that's the range. and then all of a sudden you get up to the year 1000, it's still in the same higher range. and right here, 1860, when we started to burning fossil fuels in large quantities, and there it goes. and it goes to levels that it hasn't -- we haven't seen on this planet for 3 million years. and the last time we saw 400 parts per million in the atmosphere of co2, the temperatures were 12 degrees to 14 degrees warmer and the oceans were 60 feet to 80 feet hire. feet -- 60 feet to 80 feet higher. now, this isn't politics. this isn't speculation. these are actual measurements based on the greenland ice cores. this is what the co2 concentrations were.
and here we are at the beginning of the industrial revolution. now, this chart, it seems to me, answers two of the three basic questions on this subject. the first question is: is something happening? yes. inevitably you just can't look at this and say, this point and this point are so different -- and this is a million years -- something's happening. the second question about this whole issue is: do people have anything to do with it? mr. king: this is when we started burning stuff. this answers that question. of course people have something to do with it. it's just too weird a coincidence to say all of a sudden when we started to burn fossil fuels in large quantities and release them into the atmosphere and increase the co2, this -- it just happened to happen at the same time. one fellow i know said, well, it's volcanoes. i'm sorry, we didn't have an outburst of volcanoes in the
11980's and 191860's and the 18. we started to burn coal and later o. this is what happened. later -- later on. now, this is what happened. i remember there were three questions. one, is something happening? yes. two, do people have anything to do with it? yes. the third question is, so what? co2's going up in the atmosphere, so what? what does that mean? well, this answers that question. this is the relationship between co2 and temperature. red line is carbon dioxide. black line, temperature. an almost exact correlation. if the co2 goes up in the atmosphere and what are we -- we're about 500,000 years, you can see co2 goes up, temperature goes up. co2 goes down, temperature goes down. so this is the answer to the third question, "so what?" the
answer is "temperature." okay. one of the things that worries me -- and the reason i'm here tonight -- is some research that's been done at the university of maine. we have a climate study at the university of maine at oranoke climate study center. and i was up there a year or so ago and was meeting with them. it's one of those meetings, you know, you're going around and you go to the university, you go to factories, you go to schools and you meet with people and they give you briefings. and i was listening to a briefing on climate change, but a word crept into that discussion that i hadn't heard before. and the word was "abrupt." that climate change, i always assumed, happened in very slow, long historic geological time kind of way. that's not the case. this is -- these are two lines.
the yellow is tetch. the red is the extent of the ice in the arctic. the point of the chart is, look at these vertical lines. that's a matter of a few years. i.t. not a matter of 1,000 years or 10,000 years. it is a matter of a few years. it is as if someone throws a switch, and i don't want to be around when that switch is thrown. and i certainly don't want to be the cause of the switch being thrown. abrupt climate change. that's what keeps me awake at night. is that this is -- this is something that we're sort of assuming is going to be the next generation's problem or the generation after that or, you know, by 2100 -- who knows about 2100? who thinks about 2100? well it could be a lot sooner than that. and if things like this cause a
meltoff in the arctic ice and the greenland ice sheet and it changes the currents in the atlantic or anywhere else in the world for that matter, everything changes. without the gulfstream, england, scotland, ireland, and scandinavia are essentially uninhabitable. we always -- i don't know about you, mr. president, but i've always thought of england as being to the east. i.t. not to the east. it's way to the northeast. england is on the same latitude as hudson's bay. the only reason it's aof temperate climate is because of the gulfstream. if something happens to the gulfstream, northern europe is almost uninhabitable. and these changes can happen abruptly. now, again, maybe i'm wrong. i hope i'm wrong. but what if i'm right? what if the science is right? are we willing to take that ri
risk? do you want to be the person who says to your grandchildren, we saw this coming, all these people talked, they talked all one night in the united states senate, but we decided not to do anything because, well it would be expensive and it would disrupt some of our industries and it might cost us a few jobs, which by the way would be replaced in other industries. do you want to be the person that says, well, we had this warning, but, eh, we didn't really feel we had to go anything about tsm i don't want to be that person. does it have practical effects? it does have practical effects. this isn't a theoretical discussion. this isn't just a science lesson. this has effects in all of our states. and we've heard them here tonight, about the water temperature and the streams in minnesota, the forest fires in colorado, the drought in the west, in california that's rendering millions of acres potentially unproductive, that have been the breadbasket of
america. in maine, it's the lobster. the iconic product of the coast of maine. and what's happening is, the owe hasn't is getting -- the ocean is getting warmer. as the ocean is getting warmer, the lobsters don't necessarily -- they're not too unhappy about it getting warmer. but they -- the center of gravity of the lobsters is going to go where the water is colder, and that's what's happening. that's what the lobstermen have told me. the center of gravity of lobstering of maine used to be right off of portland in what's called casko bay where i live. but it's slowly moved northward. the lobsters themselves have been moved northward but the heavy, heavy catch has moved northward. here is a dramatic picture of what's happened. in 1970, here was the hot spot for lobster, south of massachusetts, south of rhode
island, off of the end of long island. this is where they were catching the most lobsters. here's where they are in 2008. they're up along the coast of maine, headed for nova scotia. this is the center of gravity of the lobstering industry. now people ar around here may nt know what's happening in the climate. but the lobsters of maine know it. and the green crabs and the shellfish and the moose and the deadeer and the trees, they knot because that's what's changing in my state. another thing that's happening that hasn't -- i don't think it's been discussed tonight, and that is that the ocean is becoming a giant syn giant sinkl the carbon in the atmosphere. and when the carbon dioxide goes into the water and is dissolved with water, it turns into something called h-2c o3,
carbonic acid. and carbonic acid attacks shellfish and shells. they can't form their shells. because the ocean is becoming acidic. this is a recent observation, and i.t. the result of the mass is -- and it's the result of the massive load of carbon that we've been putting into the atmosphere. here's another practical result. and the president tal talked abt this in terms of boston. these are charts that show what happens if the sea goes up varying levels. 6 meters, one meter. one meter is dark red. look what happens to virginia beach and north carolina at just one meefort. and that's predicted in the next 100 years. as the sea level goes up. then you look, all of these
communities -- new york, boston, savannah and charleston, virginia beach, miami, louisiana, then you can multiply this all around the world. a very significant percentage of the world's population lives within 40 miles of the coast everywhere. these are real consequences. and these are the kind of consequences that are unbelievably expensive and unbelievably destructive. here's another piece of evidence is sea ice extent. we're now talking about the famous northwest passage actually existing. ships can now go from the atlantic to the pacific across the arctic because the ice is disappearing. here it is just from 1979 to the present. this is evidence. this is data. this is irrefutable.
here's essentially a chart of arctic sea ice. the red line was the extent of the ice -- that was the average place the ice was in 1979 through the year 2000. and here's where we are in 2012. and as it continues to shrink, several things happen. the ocean levels rise, the acidification of the ocean continues, and there's a threat of the change in the ocean's currents. which would be catastrophic for many parts of the world. another example is the muir glacier in alaska. these two photographs were taken from exactly the same spot. 141, here's the glacier. 2004, here's the lake.
the glacier is gone. that's change, and that's a change that's the canary in the coal mine. that's the change that tells us something is happening, and we ignore it at our peril. well, what are the consequences of this? what are the consequences? i've talked about the economic consequences -- forest fires, floods, lobsters, agriculture, all of those -- people living in low-lying areas, multiply superstorm sandy by two, three, four, five. and we're talking billions of dollars of economic cost. we're talking about lost jobs, something like 30% of the businesses that were wiped out by superstorm sandy never came back. they never came back. and to each one of those business people, to each one of those insurers that insured
those businesses, to those families, it's gone forever. that's the result of these superstorms that we're seeing more and more frequently. an enormous economic risk, an enormous cost. yes, it's going to cost something to prevent this, but it's going to cost us either way. the old ad, i remember when i was a kid, pay me now or pay me later. in this case, it's pay me now or mai papay me more laimplet but s a second level of risk that is almost as significant as the economic risk. that's the national security risk. we've had panels of retired judges and admirals who have looked at this. this is -- the global climate change is a national security risk. why? because it's going to lead to
friction, to riots, to famine, to loss of agricultural land, to loss of homes, to territorial disputes about water, and that increases our risk. mr. president, i'm on the armed services committee and the intelligence committee. i've spent the last year and a half listening to testimony about al qaeda and what we're doing to confront al qaeda. and part of our trait i stratego fight them and to kill them. but, mr. president, we can't kill them all. it's like the hydra. you cut off the head and two come back. what we have to do is get at the basis of why young people are joining an organization like that and change their lives, and this climate change, which threatens people's livelihooded, particularly in the developing world, is a graving threat to our national -- is a grave
threat to our national security because it is the most dangerous weapon of mass destruction in the world today are large numbers of unemployed 20-year-olds. who are angry and dispossessed and have no hope and are willing to take up arms against any authority that they can find, and, unfortunately, that may be us. this is a national security risk. water, i predict, will be one of the most valuable commodities of the 21st century. it is going to be something people fight about, it is going to be something that people get into wars about. water is an enormously valuable commodity that global climate change threatens. finally, on the question of what are the consequences, it is an ethical risk.
it is an economic risk, a national security risk, but it is also an ethical risk. and another aspect of this that has struck me that isn't directly related to climate change but it related to our consumption of fossil fiewcialtion is what right do we have to consume the entire production of fossil fuels that the world has produced in the last 3 million, 4 million, 5 million, 10 million years? is reminds me of a dad sitting down at thanksgiving dinner where all the children are sitting around the table. and mom brings in the turkey. dad say, this is all mine. none of you get any. i'm going to take it. none of us would do that. but that's exactly what we're doing. we're saying, this oil, this precious oil that's an amazing commodity, can do all kind of different things. we're going to burn it up in about 200 years. and it takes millions of years to make it. and we're going to burn it all
up. i think that's ann an ethical risk -- i think that's an ethical risk. i hate talking about problems and not talking about solutions. what are the solutions? well, i believe in markets. i believe in free markets as the best way to allocate goods and services, but the market, in order to be efficient, has to be accurate and it has has to accurately reflect the true croft f costs and price of the commodity. right now we're not paying those costs. the cost of climate change is not factors into the cost of consuming fossil fuel. if you factor it in, then you have a free market and people will make their decisions based upon their economic situation and also their commitment to the environment. but the real costs aren't factored in. now, i'm old enough to remember when this debate took place in the 19 0e7z when i worked -- in had the 19 0e7z whe 190's when d
here. the debate was characterized as payrolls versus pick roll. i can remember that term. payrolls versus pick roll. the idea was, if you clean up the water and clean umthe acres it's going to put people out of business. we're going to lose jobs. industry is going to run away. we can't possibly do it. well, a man named edmund muskie from the state of maine didn't believe that. he was raised in a paper mill town on the anderskoggen river. us are ski didn't believe it. us are ski stood in this body and fought for the clean air act and the clean water. and here's the amazing thing. i was asked to do some research and to do a presentation about
muskie's environmental leadership and he went back and looked at the record and i couldn't believe my eyes. particularly in light of where we are here today tonight in this body and in this city. the clean air act passed the united states senate unanimous unanimously. in the midst of the debate, howard baker, the minority leader, the republican leader, gave his proxy to muvment. imagine that happening today? it passed unanimously. mr. president, we couldn't pass the time of day unanimously in this body. and yet it happened. and that brings me to a question that really puzzles me. how did this become a partisan issue? how did it come to divide us so cleanly along environmental lines? this discussion tonight is important, but it's all democrats and people, bernie and
i, the two independents, senator sanders, the senator from vermont and i, the two independents, know people from the other party. i don't understand that. the leaders, the giants of the environmental movement. in maine when i was a young man were all republican. and when ed muskie got the clean air and clean water act passed in this body, it was with the support of the overwhelming support that replaced the clean air act, all the republicans, including very conservative republicans. senator buckley from new york supported the clean air act. i don't know how this or why this became a partisan issue. maybe it was because it was invented by al gore. i don't know. but somehow it's become this divisive partisan issue. mr. president, it shouldn't be. this is our future that's at stake. this is our children and grandchildren's future. this shouldn't be a partisan issue. in my experience, if we can
develop a common understanding of the facts, we can find solutions. they won't be easy, but they are there. right now, the problem is we don't have a common shared understanding of the facts. so what are the solutions? the market is one. innovation, as senator kaine from virginia said, is another. there are ways to use electricity and generate electricity through innovation that will be much cleaner, support just as many if not more jobs and help prevent this tragedy from befalling us. and by the way, it doesn't mean we can't burn coal. coal is an abundant resource that we have in this country that is loaded with energy, but unfortunately it's also loaded with co2 and other pollutants, so i think part of our commitment should be intense
research on how to use coal efficiently, effectively and cleanly. that should be part of the deal. we're not trying to put any region of the country out of business or control people's use of -- of valuable resources, but let's use them in the most efficient and effective and environmentally safe way, and that can be done in part through innovation. i was a lobbyist in maine 30 years ago, and one of the things i lobbied for was to get rid of pop top beer cans. mr. president, you probably remember the first ones you grabbed a ring, pulled it off and it became a little razor. people threw them on the ground, you would step on them, they were dangerous. i remember going to the lobbyist for the bottlers. i said we want to get rid of those things. he said there is no way. our engineers have looked at it. it's impossible to make one that you don't have to tear off. well, lo and behold we passed a law banning those pulloff tabs,
and the industry found a way to do it safely and in an environmentally sound manner. sometimes you just have to help people to find the way. the finally piece when it comes to solutions is this has to be international. i agree with my colleagues that say we can't just do it here. we can't just do it here. if we just do it here and nobody else in the world does it, china and india don't do it, then it's not going to be effective. we will have imposed costs on our society that will just simply make their businesses more competitive if they are ignoring these externalities, these realities of price. it has to be done through international cooperation. and i think the moment may be right, from everything i understand about the air quality in china, they may be ready to discuss this. they may be ready to take steps
along with us, but we're going to have to be the leaders. we're going to have to show what can be done, how it can be done. we are going to have to innovate our way out of this, but we have to do it with our international partners. air doesn't -- movement of air doesn't respect boundaries. when ed muskie was promoting the clean air act, he would take a globe. i understand -- i don't think we're allowed to take props onto the floor of the senate. but he would take a standard globe, imagine i have got it here and that everybody used to have in their library and on a globe is a coating of shellac to make it shiny. that coating of shellac is the same thickness in proportion to the globe as our atmosphere is to our real globe. in other words, it's very thin and very fragile. and we destroy it and threaten
it at our extreme peril. okay. i can boil it all down to one simple concept. this is a maine concept. it's the maine recorded vote owe tiller rule -- the maine rototiller rule. for those from urban states, a rototiller is a device you use to turn the ground in your garden. i guess it's a homeowner's plow and it turns the dirt. not too many people own rototillers, but enough do that you can borrow one when you need it for that one day in the spring when you put your garden in. the maine rototiller rule is very straightforward -- when you borrow your neighbor's rototiller, you always return it to them in as good shape as you got it with a full tank of gas. that's all you need to know about environmental policy, because, mr. president, we don't
own this planet. we have it on loan. we have it on loan from our children, our grandchildren and their grandchildren, and we're borrowing it from them, and we have an obligation, a moral, ethical, economic and security obligation to pass it on to those people in as good or better shape than we got it, and that's what this issue is all about. mr. chairman, i deeply hope -- mr. president, i deeply hope that we can put aside the partisanship and the arguments, agree on the facts and then have a robust and vigorous discussion of solutions. it's not going to be easy, it's not going to be free, but it will make all the difference in the world to the people that we
owe our best work to, the future of america and the world. thank you, mr. president. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from oregon. mr. merkley: thank you, mr. president. i appreciate so much the comments of my colleague from maine, bringing his insights and his expertise from the years and his stories about how the land and waters of your home state are being impacted and our responsibilities to the broader planet. i am reminded of the comment that david thoreau -- henry david thoreau said, which is what is the use of a house if you haven't got a tolerable planet to put it on? his comment now seems very much ahead of the time in the context of the issue we are discussing tonight. then we have the insight from
theodore roosevelt who said in terms of our responsibility -- quote -- "of all the questions which can come before this nation, short of the actual preservation of its existence in a great war, there is none which compares in importance with the great central task of leaving this land even a better land for our descendants than it is for us." but right now, we are failing that challenge. carbon pollution is a direct threat to our resources on this planet, a direct threat to our forests, to our fishing and to our farming. i want to take a little bit of time tonight to talk about those aspects, and i'd like to start by taking a look at our forests. indeed, if there is something that symbolizes some of the dramatic impacts that carbon
pollution is making, it is the spread of the pine beetle. this picture is one of a forest devastated not by fire, not by drought but by the spread of the pine beetle. now, i have gone up in a plane and flown over a vast zone of the cascades known as the red zone where the pine beetle has killed thousands and thousands and thousands of acres in my home state. they start out looking red because the needles turn red, and that's why it's called the red zone. then the needles fall off and you have essentially this brown, desolate remainder of what was once a thriving forest. now, timber is something very close to our hearts in the state of oregon. so many of us, myself included, are children of the timber
industry. my father was a millwright. that's the mechanic who keeps a sawmill operating, a job he absolutely loved. he used to say that if he did his job right, then everyone had a job to come to and the mill made money and everyone was happy, as long as the machinery ran. and oregon is still the top american producer of plywood and soft wood lumber. the industry certainly has a big component of our companied companied in my -- of our gross domestic product in my state. when this happens, then not only do we have zones that are not good environmental zones, but they are not good timber zones either. it's a lose-lose situation. and it happens it's spreading for one reason. the winters aren't as cold as they used to be, and the pine beetle is very happy about that because it is not knocked back
and largely wiped out with cold snaps each winter and is able to spread much more quickly. it's able to spread to much higher he will -- higher elevations. then these dead forests become a component in another huge problem, which are forest fires. this picture that you will see in a moment is a picture of the biscuit fire in 2002. a wall of flame. summer before last, i went down and flew about the state of oregon to look at the innumerable forest fires that were burning, and one of the reasons we had so many forest fires ten years after this fire was because the floor of the forest was so dry. it's estimated that a two-by-four that you see in a home depot has about a 6% moisture content and the material on the floor of the forest was even drier than that.
and then you throw in far more lightning strikes due to the pattern of the weather and you have this magic combination, this combination of tinderbox dryness, pine beetle devastation and then lightning strikes, and what you have are some of the largest fires we've ever seen. indeed, the biscuit fire in 2002, 500,000 acres, half a million acres, and then fast forward ten years, 2012, 750,000 acres burned in my state. and with the combination of the ongoing effects of carbon pollution, that being pine beetle damage, more lightning strikes and far drier drought-driven fire seasons, it's just going to get worse and worse. you know, the seven largest fire years since 1960 have all
happened in the last 13 summers. that's pretty amazing to recognize how that transition is occurring, and if we think about projecting into the future, the national research council predicts that for every 1.8 degrees fahrenheit temperature increase, the area burned in the western forests will quadruple, which led our energy secretary to tell me a few weeks ago about a draft of a study that says the western forests will be dramatically, dramatically impacted, devastated in the course of this century due to these factors. so we have a triple threat, that of drought and bark beetles, increased temperatures and the result is decimation of a