Senate Democrats

Reid: Climate Security Act Protects Planet While Stimulating Economy, Creating Jobs In America

Washington, DC—Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made the following statement today regarding the Climate Security Act of 2008: 

“During consideration of this legislation, Senators will debate many subjects.  But beyond all specific points of contention, one fact is indisputable: global warming is real and it is caused mainly by manmade pollution.  The changes we see occurring all around us – among them, drought, altered growing seasons, sea-level rise, more intense precipitation and wildfires – are caused or worsened by the warming of the earth. 

“Over the course of human civilization, and growing exponentially since the Industrial Revolution, we have burned billions upon billions of tons of fossil fuels and thrown the waste carbon into the atmosphere.  We have taken it from the earth and put it into the sky.  That has caused the earth to have a fever – a fever that is growing worse, not better.

“All of that excess carbon in the atmosphere far surpasses the atmosphere’s natural ability to handle.  We now know with great certainty that this process has caused average global temperatures to rise.  It is making the oceans more acidic and altering planetary biochemistry.  As the amount of carbon we put into the atmosphere continues to rise, the risk to our planet and our way of life grow more and more dangerous.

“Nevada is the driest state in America.  Our entire country and our entire planet face many risks due to global warming.  But for arid states like Nevada and the desert Southwest, the risk perhaps is greatest.  The Upper Colorado region saw better-than-average rain fall last year, but that rain evaporated and never made it into the rivers.  Nevada, like the entire West, is already seeing increased wildfires. 

“Longer summers result in more dried out fuels, which allow fires to ignite easier and spread faster.  The wildfire season in the West is now 78 days longer than it was 30 years ago.  And the average duration of fires covering more than 2,500 acres has risen five times over.  The world’s leading climate researchers have concluded that, if greenhouse gases continue to increase, the Southwest region faces:

  • Longer and more intense droughts.
  • Still larger, more intense wildfires.
  • More winter and spring flooding, but reduced summer and fall run-off, with rivers in these seasons reduced to a trickle in many years.
  • More intense precipitation and storms when it does rain, with a resulting increase in flood risk.
  • And, longer and more intense heat waves, with a correspondingly adverse impact on public health, particularly for the elderly.

“Hundreds if not thousands of American scientists tell us that the United States must begin making significant reductions by 2015 and reduce our emissions by 80 percent to 90 percent by 2050 if we hope to restore some balance to the global climate system.  That won’t be easy.  It could be among the greatest challenges we ever face. 

“Not every expert agrees on the quickest and most cost-effective path to get there, but all agree that the one thing we cannot afford is delay.  The Boxer-Warner-Lieberman bill is a positive and critical first step in a journey that will require innovation and cooperation both here and abroad.

“This legislation addresses the enormous challenges we face with long-term, solutions that will leave our children, their children and generations to come with a healthier, more livable planet.

“But the bill now before us does more than simply bring us closer to the worthy goal of protecting our environment.  At a time Americans are losing their jobs and struggling to compete in the global marketplace, the Boxer-Warner-Lieberman bill is also about creating a new and powerful economic engine.  It is about creating hundreds of thousands, even millions of high-paying, permanent and sustainable jobs in America.  It is about restoring our country’s place as a global leader in technology and innovation.  It is about ending our addiction to oil and our reliance on the unfriendly, unstable regions from which it is imported. 

“Today we consume 21 million barrels of oil every day, and tomorrow that number will only continue to increase.  That oil costs our nation $2.7 billion each day – about $1 trillion every year – straight into the pockets of countries that do not have our best interests at heart – and that may be an understatement.

“This bill is also about creating a clean energy revolution by capping carbon pollution.  A dwindling few continue to insist that global warming is a hoax, that it is not man-made, or that we should sit on our hands, stand by the status quo and wait for more evidence.

“They say, Let the marketplace take care of things.  The marketplace has dug the ditch we are now stuck in.  The marketplace has no roadmap to dig us out.

“These are the same people who would have insisted in years past that cigarettes weren’t harmful – that there was no need to put seatbelts in cars – or that there was reason to set a speed limit.  These alarmists and nay-sayers’ time has passed.  Some even say it is cheaper to do nothing.  Said in a different way – they claim this is just an earthly cycle.  Just wait and all will be well.

“Some say we should wait until developing nations like China and India take the lead.  I say the United States – the greatest nation in the history of the world – is obligated to lead, not follow.

“President Bush says, Let’s bide our time until 2025.  Is it really cheaper to do nothing?  Of course not.  It is just the opposite: the longer we wait, the more it will cost to solve this problem.

“The Climate Security Act – the bill before us today — will cut taxes by $800 billion and finance the transition to clean alternative fuels by making polluters pay.  And while we’re investing in renewable fuels and renewing our environment, we will be investing in an entirely new industry – a high-tech ‘green collar’ industry – that will create jobs and develop the great companies of tomorrow.

“Hundreds of thousands of new jobs in renewable energy have already been created by foresighted investors who see the need for clean energy that doesn’t contribute to global warming.  Millions more jobs can be created with the enactment of a strong cap-and-trade system.

“Nevada and our nation are blessed with an abundance of renewable energy resources that far exceeds anything we might ever hope to get from fossil fuels.  Solar energy – abundant in Nevada and the West — is on the verge of tremendous cost and efficiency breakthroughs.  Geothermal energy can be found in Nevada, California, New Mexico and other parts of the West.  Wind energy can be effectively harnessed all across America.  We can break down the last barriers to the success of solar by enacting an effective cap and trade system that will level the playing field with dirty, polluting energy.

“Should we, as some say, wait for China and India to act?  Of course not.  Since when has America let other countries lead the way?  It is our responsibility to forge the path that other nations will follow.  But beyond our moral responsibility, it is a tremendous opportunity for the green gold rush to take place right here at home.

“Should we wait until 2025, as President Bush would have us do?  Of course not.  By 2025, our window of opportunity may well be closed.  The tipping point that scientists fear – the time at which the environmental impact of global warming becomes severe and irreversible – may have been reached by then.  And our chance to create millions of new jobs, catalyze technology development and keep investment here in America will surely be lost.

“The path of delay, the path of wait-and-see, the chosen path of Bush and Cheney, ends in certain failure.  Let’s withdraw our focus from oil and focus instead on solar, wind, geothermal and biomass energies.

“We must not settle for failure.  For seven and a half years of the Bush Administration, we have come to expect it.  Let’s do better this time.

“The Boxer-Warner-Lieberman bill is bipartisan in the truest sense.  What better opportunity than now to show the American people and the world that the United States Senate is ready to move beyond partisanship to do the right thing?  A time will come not far from now when a future generation will look back upon today.  They will know what we know now – that global warming is real.  That it is upon us.   That it was made by us, yet we have the opportunity to unmake it, too.

“That the future of our planet, our economy and our security depend on the choices we make now.  I hope that all of my colleagues – Democrats and Republicans – will make responsible decisions now that will make future generations safe, secure, prosperous and proud.”