Senate Democrats

Reid Floor Statement on the McCain-Lieberman Climate Change Amendment

As prepared for delivery:

Global warming constitutes one of the great challenges of our time. Greenhouse gas emissions from the burning of fossil fuels threaten not only our environment, but also our economy and our public health. Should we continue unabated our current rate of polluting, we threaten to disrupt the delicate ecological balance on which our livelihoods and lives depend.

Addressing this growing environmental threat demands strong leadership. But I am afraid, Mr. President, such leadership has been sorely lacking by this Administration. Instead, the White House has been doctoring information about global warming in reports by government scientists. A White House senior official, Philip Cooney, removed or adjusted descriptions of climate change research that scientists already approved. Mr. Cooney previously worked as a lobbyist for the American Petroleum Institute before joining the Administration in 2001. A few days after resigning from the Administration, Mr. Cooney accepted a job with ExxonMobil. The same ExxonMobil that has opposed measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and has funded groups of global warming skeptics.

It is time for this Administration to bypass the filtering by White House officials and hear directly from the scientists, the international community, corporations, and a growing number of Republicans who are calling for a federal policy to reduce global warming pollution.

The President is increasingly isolated on this issue, as highlighted recently in a number of ways. In advance of the G8 Summit next month, the National Academy of Sciences and the equivalent organizations from ten other countries last week said, “The scientific understanding of climate change is now sufficiently clear to justify nations taking prompt action. It is vital that all nations identify cost-effective steps that they can take now, to contribute to substantial and long-term reduction in net global greenhouse gas emissions.” California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger recently said “the debate is over” and announced a goal of cutting the state’s emissions by 80 percent by 2050.

A bipartisan group of mayors from 158 cities issued a statement calling on the federal government to reduce the threat of global warming. The mayors, who represent over 32 million people, acknowledged the clear public mandate to address this issue and pointed out that reducing greenhouse gas emissions will help ensure our energy security.

Even industry is breaking ranks with the White House. General Electric, one of the largest companies in the nation, recently joined a growing list of businesses calling on the federal government to provide stronger leadership on global warming. Fortune 500 companies such as Alcoa, British Petroleum, DuPont, Eastman Kodak, IBM, Intel, Johnson and Johnson and Nike have all made significant reductions in their greenhouse gas emissions.

The U.S. accounts for about 4 percent of the world’s population, yet is responsible for 25 percent of the world’s global warming pollution, U.S. leadership on global warming is critical to building international support for future global reductions, and America’s industry needs to be part of the solution to drive the technology that will make technology solutions feasible for all nations.

The McCain-Lieberman amendment would cap greenhouse gas emissions in 2010 at the 2000 levels and establish a mandatory economy-wide cap and trade program. The amendment would limit emissions of global warming pollutants by electric utilities, major industrial and commercial entities, and refiners of transportation fuels.

The amendment would allow businesses to devise and implement their own solutions, using a flexible emissions trading system that has successfully reduced acid rain pollution under the Clear Air Act at a fraction of anticipated costs. By setting reasonable caps on emissions, and permitting industry to trade in pollution allowances, this creates a new market for reducing greenhouse gases.

We cannot afford to defer action to address global warming. I urge my colleagues to support the McCain-Lieberman amendment. Thank you.