Hinchey Sponsors Bill To Dramatically
Reduce Pollutants That Cause Global Warming
Safe Climate Act Of 2006 Requires 80 Percent Cut In Greenhouse Gases
Washington, DC -- Congressman Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) today joined Congressman Henry Waxman (D-CA) and other Democratic House members in introducing sweeping legislation that would require a dramatic cut in the emissions of greenhouse gases that cause global warming. The Safe Climate Act of 2006 is a comprehensive measure that would require an 80 percent reduction in greenhouse gases by 2050.
"The consequences of global warming are far too serious and profound for this Congress and White House to continue to bury their heads in the sand and ignore this growing problem," Hinchey said. "The United States has a moral obligation to take a leadership role in this urgent global issue, which will have serious environmental, economic and social impacts if it is ignored. This legislation is a critical step forward in the U.S.'s efforts to assert leadership on this important issue. We already have the technological capacity to address global warming by significantly lowering greenhouse gas
emissions, but unfortunately the Republican-leadership in Washington has thus far lacked the political will to advance that ability. For the sake of our children and our grandchildren, we must seriously address global warming today before it's too late."
Hinchey and his colleagues noted that the scientific community has thoroughly studied climate change and arrived at an overwhelming consensus that humans are in fact causing global warming and the climate change resulting from this warming poses very serious risks to the United States and the entire world. A global temperature increase of only a few degrees Fahrenheit could cause the melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet and polar ice caps, raising sea levels by more than 20 feet. Such melting and rises in sea level would wreak havoc throughout the world's heavily populated coastal areas.
Scientists have already observed serious global warming impacts around the world, including increases in heat waves and droughts as well as the growing intensity and frequency of serious storm events. Scientists have also documented other impacts, including rising sea levels, rapid retreats of glaciers and polar ice, declines in mountain snow pack, increases in drought-related wildfires, stronger hurricanes, ocean acidification, extensive coral bleaching, and the migrations and shifts in the yearly cycles of plants and animals.
"While only 5 percent of the world's population is in the United States, the country emits 20 percent of the world's total greenhouse gas," Hinchey said. "Yet today, the Republican leadership in Congress seems more interested in protecting the profits of the companies that contribute most heavily to greenhouse gas emissions rather than taking the leadership needed to solve this increasingly urgent problem."
The legislation introduced today would set targets for greenhouse gas reductions and require the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Energy to establish national standards that will freeze greenhouse gas emissions in 2010 at the 2009 levels.
Beginning in 2011, emissions would be cut by roughly 2 percent a year until 2020. After 2020, the reduction targets would increase to 5 percent each year until 2050, when emissions would be reduced from 1990 levels by 80 percent. This is a similar goal to that announced by California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
The bill would allow a cap and trade program to create an overall reduction in emissions as well as require specific increases in electricity generated by renewable energy sources and use of energy efficiency technology. It would also require the EPA to set
new fuel economy standards for automobiles that are at least as stringent as California standards, which are some of the toughest in the nation. Finally, it would require a periodic review by the National Academy of Sciences to gauge the country's progress toward curbing the production of greenhouse pollutants and avoiding dangerous climate change.