ENERGY POLICY ACT OF 2005
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Mr. McCAIN. Madam President, as the Senator from Florida points out, this chart shows the areas in Florida subject to inundation with a 100-centimeter sea level rise. This is what we see happening. The red is the area of his State that would be inundated. I thank the Senator from Florida for his commitment and his keen understanding of this dire emergency.
I yield the floor.
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Mr. McCAIN. Mr. President, I yield myself 2 minutes. I hear a lot of conversation in private, and sometimes even on this floor, about being political and the reasons for action are political. The Senator from Idaho just did a great disservice to the Prime Minister of England, Tony Blair. I happen to know him. I have discussed this issue. To impugn his motives as the Senator just said--trying to get back with his buddies because of his support--that is character assassination. It is patently false and a great disservice to the leader of one of our great allies.
I would never question the motives of my opponents. To say the Prime Minister of England is motivated by political reasons for the strong and principled stand he has taken on climate change demanded my response, because I know he is an honorable man and not on this issue driven by political reasons.
I yield the floor.
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Mr. McCAIN. Mr. President, I am not going to continue this because I am afraid it may evoke further comments by the Senator from Idaho that may further diminish the reputation of a great European leader, who is obviously committed to addressing the issue of climate change. I will just say that in the joint academies' statement, it says in the global response to climate change, there will always be uncertainty in understanding a system as complex as the world's climate. However, there is now strong evidence that significant global warming is occurring.
The question is: Are we going to do something meaningful about it, or are we going to have a figleaf, such as we just passed with the Hagel amendment?
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Mr. McCAIN. Mr. President, I will be very brief because we worked it out that we would end up, which is appropriate because I am with the sponsor of the amendment.
I say to the Senator from New Mexico, who has talked about winners and losers, I will tell you who will lose, and that is the next generation of Americans because every reliable scientific body in the world knows climate change is real.
It is happening. And it may not bother the Senator from New Mexico and me at our age, but I will tell you, it bothers the heck out of young Americans, and it bothers the heck out of people who are experts on this issue.
If the Senator from New Mexico is worried about winners and losers, and he and I are winners, the next generation of people all over the world are losers because the National Academy of Sciences' statement is very clear:
There will always be uncertainty in understanding a system as complex as the world's climate, however there is now strong evidence that significant global warming is occurring.
I will tell you another loser, and that is the truth--that is the truth. The truth is, I say to the Senator from New Mexico, the European countries are meeting Kyoto emissions targets. They are meeting them. The truth is, Tony Blair has no political agenda. Tony Blair, the Prime Minister of England, recognizes that global climate change is real. It is taking place, and we have to do something about it.
To say that by us not allocating winners and losers is a reason not to act on this compelling issue of the future of our globe, when the evidence is now compelling and overwhelming, with the exception of a group I will cite before I finish who are now funded by industry, then the Senator and those who have debunked this and continue to debunk it are going to have somebody to answer to in not too many years from now.
Mr. President, I reserve the remainder of my time.
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Mr. McCAIN. Mr. President, saying that it cannot be done, the Europeans are doing it with far less stringent measures to be taken than what we have.
I reserve the remainder of my time.
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Mr. McCAIN. Mr. President, I thank Senator Inhofe for working together as we try to give both sides equal time. I yield myself 9 minutes. Senator Lieberman will take the remaining time.
Mr. President, the amendment incorporates the provisions of S. 342, the Climate Stewardship Act of 2005, in its entirety, along with a new comprehensive title regarding the development and deployment of climate change reduction technologies. This new title, when combined with the ``cap and trade'' provisions of the previously introduced Climate Stewardship Act, will promote the commercialization of technologies that can significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, mitigate the impacts of climate change, and increase the Nation's energy independence. And, it will help to keep America at the cutting edge of innovation where the jobs and trade opportunities of the new economy are to be found.
In fact, the ``cap and trade'' provisions and the new technology title are complementary parts of a comprehensive program that will allow us to usher in a new energy era, an era of responsible and innovative energy production and use that will yield enormous environmental, economic, and diplomatic benefits. The cap and trade portion provides the economic driver for existing and new technologies capable of supplying reliable and clean energy and making the best use of America's available energy resources. Our comprehensive proposal offers multiple benefits for our environment and our economy. We simply need the political will to match the public's concern about climate change, the economic interests of business and consumers, and American technological ingenuity and expertise.
Our comprehensive amendment sets forth a sound course toward a productive, secure, and clean energy future. Its provisions are based on the important efforts undertaken by academia, government, and business over the past decade to determine the best ways and means towards this energy future. Most of these studies have shared two common findings. First, significant reductions in greenhouse gases--well beyond the modest goals of our amendment--are feasible over the next 10-20 years using technologies available today. Second, the most important technological deployment opportunities to reduce emissions over the next two decades lie with energy efficient technologies and renewable energy sources, including solar, wind, and biofuels. For example, in the electric power sector, which accounts for one-third of U.S. emissions, major pollution reductions can be achieved by improving the efficiency of existing fossil fuel plants, adding new reactors designs for nuclear power, expanding use of renewable power sources, and significantly reducing electricity demand with the use of energy-saving technologies currently available to residential and commercial consumers. These clean technologies need to be promoted and that is what our legislation is about.
Before describing the details of this amendment, I think it is important to talk about what has occurred since the Senate vote on this issue in October 2003.
I could go on and on about the impacts of climate change and the associated science, yet there is still an ongoing debate in this town about whether or not climate change is real. If you still have doubts, I'd refer you to the powerful joint statement issued just two weeks ago by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and national academies from other G8 countries, along with those of Brazil, China, and India. Here are just a few quotes from the joint statement:
There will always be uncertainty in understanding a system as complex as the world's climate. However there is now strong evidence that significant global warming is occurring.
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.
We urge all nations ..... to take prompt action to reduce the causes of climate change, adapt to its impact and ensure that the issue is included in all relevant national and international strategies.
These statements are powerful and compelling, and I would hope they would help to spur meaningful action in our country to address this grave problem.
The academies' statements are despite attempts by some public officials to ``muddy'' the science of global warming. In the June 8 New York Times, there was a very disturbing article on how many of the scientific reports on climate change have been ``edited'' by an official in the White House's Council on Environmental Quality. The article makes major implications for the future of not only climate change science, but also the future of science in general. The U.S. has always touted its superiority in science and technology. Reports such as these attack the credibility of the Nation's science and technology infrastructure at a time when many within government and industry say we are losing our competitive edge.
The article mentions that the changes to the documents can cause a clear shift in the meaning of the documents--a shift in science. This is outrageous and inexcusable behavior and the consequences of such actions could be severe. Historically, we have been able to exempt science as a political tool. But it now sounds like some have taken it upon themselves to turn climate change science into political science. That is unacceptable.
Perhaps this is why Prime Minister Blair has conceded that he has no chance persuading the President to change his position on climate change. I guess this is understandable now that we have learned that the two are operating under a different set of facts.
I also note a recent article in the Washington Post concerning the administration's efforts to weaken key aspects of a proposal for joint action on climate change by the G8 nations. We should all be able to agree that climate change policy should be based upon sound science. I hope that whatever policy comes from the G8 leaders it would reflect the urgency and the magnitude of the problem as indicated in the joint statement of the academies of science from the G8 countries, China, India and Brazil.
The fact is, the unaltered scientific evidence of human-induced climate change has grown even more abundant. Since February of this year, when I highlighted the results of the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment, even more startling evidence about the Arctic region has been revealed. In a recent Congressional briefing, Dr. Robert Corell, Chair of Arctic Climate Impact Assessment, presented data indicating that climate change in the Arctic is occurring more rapidly than previously thought. Annual average arctic temperatures have increased at twice the rate of global temperatures over the past several decades, with some regions increasing by five to ten times the global average.
The latest observations show Alaska's 2004 June-July-August mean temperature to be nearly 5 degrees Fahrenheit above the 1971-2000 historic mean, and permafrost temperature increasing enough to cause it to start melting. Dr. Corell said the Greenland ice sheet is melting more rapidly than thought even 5 years ago, and that the climate models indicate that warming over Greenland is likely to be up to three times the global average, with warming projected to be in the range of 5 to 11 degrees Fahrenheit, which will most certainly lead to sea-level rise. These are remarkable new scientific findings.
It isn't surprising that just last month, indigenous leaders from Arctic regions called on the European Union to do more to fight global warming and to consider giving aid to their peoples, saying their way of life is at risk. Global warming is said to be causing the arrival in the far north of mosquitoes bearing infectious diseases. And in Scandinavia, more frequent rains in the winter are causing sheets of ice to develop on top of snow, causing animals to die of hunger because they cannot reach the grass underneath.
``We are not asking for sympathy,'' said Larisa Abrutina of the Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North. ``We are asking each country in the world to examine if it is truly doing its part to slow climate change.''
The efforts taking place globally to address climate change have gained even greater prominence. For example, British Prime Minister Tony Blair has made climate change one of his top two issues during his Presidency of the G8. Mr. Blair's commitment to addressing climate change should be commended. He has chosen to take action and not to hide behind the uncertainties that the science community will soon resolve. The Prime Minister made it clear in a January speech at World Economic Forum in Davos as to his intentions when he said, ``..... if America wants the rest of the world to be a part of the agenda it has set, it must be a part of their agenda too.''
The top two issues that Prime Minister Blair has chosen to deal with are climate change and poverty in Africa. It is interesting to note that another article in the New York Times highlighted recently the connection between the two issues. The article describes how a 50 year long drying trend is likely to continue and appears to be tightly linked to substantial warming of the Indian Ocean. According to Dr. James Hurrell, a scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, ``..... the Indian Ocean shows very clear and dramatic warming into the future, which means more and more drought for southern Africa. It is consistent with what we would expect from an increase in greenhouse gases.'' It appears that Mr. Blair's two priorities are quickly becoming one enormous challenge.
Mr. Blair enjoys strong support for efforts from industry. Recently, business leaders from 13 UK and international companies sent a letter to the Prime Minister stating there is a need for urgent action to be taken now to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, and to offer to work in partnership with the government toward strengthening domestic and international progress on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Furthermore, the heads of 23 global companies released a statement on June 9th, expressing strong support for action to mitigate climate change and the importance of market-based solutions. The statement was prepared by the G8 Climate Change Roundtable, which is comprised of companies headquartered in 10 nations throughout the world, including companies from a broad cross-section of industry sectors. The statement was in response to an invitation from the Prime Minister to provide business perspectives on climate change in advance of the G8 Summit that will take place in Gleneagles, Scotland, in early July.
The Roundtable's statement says ``We recognize that we have a responsibility to act on climate change.'' It further acknowledges there ``is a need for further, significant efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions'' ..... ``because of the cumulative nature and long residence time of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, action must be taken now.'' It also calls upon governments to establish ``clear, transparent, and consistent price signals'' through the creation of a long-term policy framework that includes all major emitters of greenhouse gases. The statement highlights the need for technology incentive programs to accelerate commercialization of low carbon technologies. Finally, the statement calls for a ``new partnership'' between the G8 countries and China, India, Brazil, South Africa, and Mexico to facilitate private investment in low carbon infrastructure.
In addition to the international industries support, I think it is very important to mention that there are now a number of U.S. industry leaders that have begun voicing their concerns for the need to take action, including GE, Duke, Excelon, Shell, and JP Morgan Chase. We welcome these and other leaders' participation and insight in this debate of worldwide consequence.
In the September 2004 issue, The National Geographic devotes 74 pages laying out in great detail the necessity of tackling our planet's problem of global warming. In an introductory piece, Editor-in-Chief Bill Allen described just how important he thinks this particular series of articles is:
Why would I publish articles that make people angry enough to stop subscribing? That's easy. These three stories cover subjects that are too important to ignore. From Antarctica to Alaska to Bangladesh, a global warming trend is altering habitats, with devastating ecological and economic effects. ..... This isn't science fiction or a Hollywood movie. We're not going to show you waves swamping the Statue of Liberty. But we are going to take you all over the world to show you the hard truth as scientists see it. I can live with some canceled memberships. I'd have a harder time looking at myself in the mirror if I didn't bring you the biggest story in geography today.
The articles highlight many interesting facts. Dr. Lonnie Thompson of Ohio State University collects ice cores from glaciers around the world, including the famed snows of Kilimanjaro, which could vanish in 15 years. According to Dr. Thompson, ``What glaciers are telling us, is that it's now warmer than it has been in the past 2,000 years over vast areas of the planet.'' Many of the ice cores he has in his freezer may soon contain the only remains of the glaciers from which they came from.
Highlighted quotes from the articles include:
Things that normally happen in geologic time are happening during the span of a human lifetime; the future breakdown of the thermohaline circulation remains a disturbing possibility; more than a hundred million people worldwide live within three feet of mean sea level; at some point, as temperatures continue to rise, species will have no room to run; the natural cycles of interdependent creatures may fall out of sync; and we'll have a better idea of the actual changes in 30 years. But it's going to be a very different world.
Global warming demands urgent action on all fronts, and we have an obligation to promote the technologies that can help us meet the challenge. Our aim has never been simply to introduce climate stewardship legislation. Rather our purpose is to have legislation enacted to begin to address the urgent global warming crisis that is upon us. This effort cannot be about political expediency. It must be about practical realities and addressing the most pressing issue facing not only our Nation, but the world. We believe that our legislation offers practical and effective solutions and we urge each member's careful consideration and support.
I want to describe some of the amendment's major provisions designed to enhance innovation and commercialization in key areas. These include zero and low greenhouse gas emitting power generation, such as nuclear, coal gasification, solar and other renewables, geological carbon sequestration, and biofuels:
The amendment directs the Secretary of Commerce, through the former Technology Administration, which would be renamed the Innovation Administration, to develop and implement new policies that foster technological innovation to address global warming. These new directives include: Developing and implementing strategic plans to promote technological innovation; identifying and removing barriers to the research, development, and commercialization of key technologies; prioritizing and maximizing key federal R&D programs to aid innovation; establishing public/private partnerships to meet vital innovation goals; and promoting national infrastructure and educational initiatives that support innovation objectives.
It also authorizes the Secretary of Energy to establish public/private partnerships to promote the commercialization of climate change technologies by working with industry to advance the design and demonstration of zero and low emission technologies in the transportation and electric generation sectors. Specifically, the Secretary would be authorized to partner with industry to share the costs (50/50) of ``first-of-a-kind'' designs for advanced coal, nuclear energy, solar and biofuels. Moreover, each time that a utility builds a plant based on the ``first-of-a-kind engineering'' design authorized by this amendment, a ``royalty'' type payment will be paid by the utility to reimburse the original amount provided by the government.
After the detail design phase is complete, the Secretary would be able to provide loans or loan guarantees (up to 80 percent) for the construction of these new designs, including: Three nuclear plant designs certified by the NRC that would produce zero greenhouse gas emissions; three advanced coal gasification plants with carbon capture and storage that make use of our abundant coal resources while storing carbon emissions underground; three large scale solar energy plants to begin to tap the enormous potential of this completely clean energy source;
and three large scale facilities to produce the clean, efficient, and plentiful biofuel of the future--cellulosic ethanol.
The loan program will be administered by a Climate Technology Financing Board, whose membership will include the Secretary of Energy, a representative from the Climate Change
Credit Corporation, as would be created in the amendment, and others with pertinent expertise. Once each plant is operational, the private partner will be obligated to pay back these loans from the government, as is the case with any construction loan.
I think it is important to be very clear about this ambitious, but necessary, technology title. We intend that much, if not all, of the costs of the demonstration initiatives, along with the loan program, will be financed by the early sale of emission allowances through the Climate Change Credit Corporation under the cap and trade program. While we would prefer to allow for the Corporation to expend these funds directly, our budgetary process doesn't readily lend itself to allow this--direct spending is not a popular proposition these days. Therefore, the amendment authorizes the revenues generated under the program to then be appropriated for these key technology programs. However, the industry and the market will actually be footing much of the bill, not the taxpayers. And, as I already mentioned, the amendment requires that any federal money used to build plants will be repaid by the utility when the plant becomes operational.
Finally, the amendment contains a mechanism requiring utilities to pay reimbursement ``royalties'' as they build plants based on zero and low emission designs created with federal assistance. Again, this approach is more fair and certain than requiring taxpayers to cover the entire costs of these programs. But there will be some costs. That is why it is important to weigh these expenditures against the staggering cost of inaction on global warming. I think we'll find more than a justified cost-benefit outcome.
In addition to promoting new or underutilized technologies, the amendment also includes a provision to aid in the deployment of available and efficient energy technologies. This would be accomplished through a ``reverse auction'' provision, which would establish a cost effective and proven mechanism for federal procurement and incentives. Providers' ``bids'' would be evaluated by the Secretary on their ability to reduce, eliminate, or sequester greenhouse gas emissions.
The ``reverse auction'' program also would be funded initially by the early sale of emission allowances. Eventually, the program would be funded by the proceeds from the annual auction of tradeable allowances conducted by the Climate Change Credit Corporation under the cap and trade program.
I want to clarify that this amendment doesn't propose to dictate to industry what is economically prudent for their particular operations. Rather, it provides a basis for the selection and implementation of their own market-based solutions, using a flexible emissions trading system model that has successfully reduced acid rain pollution under the Clean Air Act at a fraction of anticipated costs (less than 10 percent of the costs that some had predicted when the legislation was enacted). That successful model can and must be used to address this urgent and growing global warming crisis upon us.
The ``cap and trade'' approach to emission management is a method endorsed by Congress and free-market proponents for over 15 years after it was first applied to sulfur dioxide pollution. Applying the same model to carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases is a matter of good policy and simple, common sense. It is an approach endorsed by industry leaders such as Jeffrey Immelt, CEO of General Electric, one of the largest companies in the U.S.
Moreover using the proven market principles that underlie cap and trade will harness American ingenuity and innovation and do more to spur the innovation and commercialization of advanced environmental technologies than any system of previous energy-bill style subsidies that Congress can devise.
Three decades of assorted energy bills prove that while subsidies to promote alternative energy technologies may sometimes help, alone they are not transformational. In the 1970's, Americans were waiting in line for limited supplies of high priced gasoline. We created a Department of Energy to help us find a better way. Yet today, 30 years later, we remain wedded to fossil fuels, economically beholden to the Middle East and we continue to alter the makeup of the upper atmosphere with the ever-increasing volume of greenhouse gas emissions. Our dividend is continued energy dependence and global warming that places our nation and the globe at enormous environmental and economic risk. Not a very good deal.
Cap and trade is the transformational mechanism for reducing carbon dioxide emissions, protecting the global environment, diversifying the nation's energy mix, advancing our economy, and spurring the development and deployment of new and improved technologies that can do the job. It is indispensable to the task before us.
The Climate Stewardship and Innovation Act does not prescribe the exact formula by which allowances will be allocated under a cap and trade system. This should be determined administratively through a process developed with great care to achieve the principles and purposes of the Act. This includes assuring that high emitting utilities have ample incentives to clean up and can make emission reductions economically and that low emitting utilities are treated justly and recognized for their efficiency. Getting this balance right will not be easy, but it can and must be done.
The fact remains that, if enacted, the bill's emission cap will not go into effect for another five years. In the interim there is much that the country can and should do to promote the most environmentally and economically promising technologies. This includes removing unnecessary barriers to commercialization of new technologies so that new plants, products, and processes can move more efficiently from design and development, to demonstration and, ultimately, to the market place. Again, without cap and trade, these efforts will pale, but the new technology title we propose will work hand in glove with the emission cap and trade system to meet our objectives.
As I already mentioned, the new title contains a host of measures to promote the commercialization of zero and low-emission electric generation technologies, including nuclear, clean coal, solar and other renewable energies, and biofuels.
NATIONAL COMMISSION ON ENERGY POLICY APPROACH WILL NOT ADDRESS THE PROBLEM
We have come a long, long way in recognizing the reality of this problem. Some former skeptics not only have acknowledged that global warming is real, but agree that we have to do something about it. The challenge now is to make sure that the medicine fits the ailment, rather than to engage in half-measures that might check a political box but do nothing to actually solve the problem. As Washington proves time and again, half-measures are worse than doing nothing because they give Congress a false sense of accomplishment and merely delay the necessary, and often more difficult, actions.
It is my understanding that some members have been preparing an alternative proposal to address climate change--one which would incorporate the recommendations of the National Commission on Energy Policy. The Commission has recommended an approach that seems to be intended to initially slow the projected growth in domestic greenhouse gas emissions, but not to reduce such emissions, as our proposal would provide. And there is some question as to the extent to which emissions would be allowed to increase in the near term under the Commission's approach. It also includes what is being termed a ``safety valve'' mechanism, which is more of an escape valve, which would allow for additional allowances to be purchased to emit additional emissions. ``Pay and pollute'' is hardly the way to reducing the factors contributing to climate change.
The problem with the Commission's recommendations is that there is no guarantee that any reductions in the emissions of greenhouse gases would result. It has been demonstrated that we could meet the Commission's emission intensity targets while still increasing our actual emissions. The emissions intensity approach is the same as that proposed by the Administration. And, as we well know, that approach is not working nor does it allow for us to join with our friends in the international community in jointly addressing this worldwide problem.
Further, the Commission's safety valve proposal precludes any interface with the international trading market which would restrict the number of market opportunities for achieving low cost reductions. The U.S. simply would be trading with itself, which makes the cost of compliance even higher.
If we look at the science of the Earth's climate system, it does not react to emission intensity, but rather, to the level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. So, if we are truly committed to addressing climate change, we need to act in a manner that actually addresses the related problems and not those that may make for good sound bites but are otherwise ineffective.
As we evaluate different climate proposals, the fundamental question that should be asked is: ``What is the environmental benefit?''
Under the Commission's plan, the answer could be ``none'' since, as I mentioned, the safety valve essentially allows industry to buy its way out of the problem, which of course, results in no environmental benefit. As we well know, such costs would simply be passed on to consumers, but how would be consumers benefit? Would they get cleaner air? A better environment? Furthermore by having such an ``escape valve'', the powers of innovation and technology development to substantially reduce costs is strangled. Why invest in new technologies when you have the guaranteed option to just ``pay and pollute?''
Of course, I welcome the growing level of interest and discussion by the Senate on what many have called ``the greatest environmental threat of out time.'' However, the proposal as recommended by the Commission doesn't go far enough to address that great threat. And it has the potential to generate huge costs to the taxpayers with no environmental benefit.
I want to take some time to address the amendment's nuclear provisions. Although these provisions are only part of the comprehensive technology package, I'm sure they will be the focus of much attention.
I know that some of our friends in the environmental community maintain strong objections to nuclear energy, even though it supplies nearly 20 percent of the electricity generated in the U.S. and much higher proportions in places such as France, Belgium, Sweden and Switzerland--countries that aren't exactly known for their environmental disregard. But the fact is, nuclear is, producing emissions, while the burning of fossil fuels to generate electricity produces approximately 33 percent of the greenhouse gases accumulating in the atmosphere, and is a major contributor to air pollution affecting our communities
The idea that nuclear power should play no role in our energy mix is an unsustainable position, particularly given the urgency and magnitude of the threat posed by global warming which most regard as the greatest environmental threat to the planet.
The International Energy Agency estimates that the world's energy consumption is expected to rise over 65 percent within the next fifteen years. If the demand for electricity is met using traditional coal-fired power plants, not only will we fail to reduce carbon emissions as necessary, the level of carbon in the atmosphere will skyrocket, intensifying the greenhouse effect and the global warming it produces.
As nuclear plants are decommissioned, the percentage of U.S. electricity produced by this zero-emission technology will actually decline. Therefore, at a minimum, we must make efforts to maintain nuclear energy's level of contribution, so that this capacity is not replaced with higher-emitting alternatives. I, for one, believe it can and should play an even greater role, not because I have some inordinate love affair with splitting the atom, but for the very simple reason that we must support sustainable, zero-emission alternatives such as nuclear if we are serious about addressing the problem of global warming.
In a recent editorial by Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times, Mr. Kristof made the following observation: ``It's increasingly clear that the biggest environmental threat we face is actually global warming and that leads to a corollary: nuclear energy is green.'' He goes on to quote James Lovelock, a British scientist who created the Gaia principle that holds the earth is a self-regulating organism. He quoted Mr. Lovelock as follows:
I am a Green, and I entreat my friends in the movement to drop their wrongheaded objection to nuclear energy. Every year that we continue burning carbon makes it worse for our descendents Only one immediately available source does not cause global warming, and that is nuclear energy.
I have always been and will remain a committed supporter of solar and renewable energy. Renewables hold great promise, and, indeed, the technology title contains equally strong incentives in their favor. But today solar and renewables account for only about 3 percent of our energy mix. We have a long way to go, and that is one of the objectives of this legislation--to help promote these energy technologies.
I want to stress nothing in this title alters, in any way, the responsibilities and authorities of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Safety and security will remain, as they should, paramount in the citing, design, construction and operation of nuclear power plants. And the winnowing effect of the tree market, as it should, will still determine which technologies succeed or fail in the market place. But the idea that a zero-emission technology such as nuclear has little or no place in our energy mix is just as antiquated, out-of-step and counter-productive as our continued dependence on fossil fuels. Should it prevail, our climate stewardship and clean air goals will be virtually impossible to meet.
The environmental benefit of nuclear energy is exactly why during his tenure, my friend, Morris Udall, one of the greatest environmental champions the United States has ever known, sponsored legislation in the House, as I did in the Senate, to develop a standardized nuclear reactor that would maximize safety, security, and efficiency. The Department of Energy has done much of the work called for by that legislation. Now it's time for the logical next steps. The new title of this legislation promotes these steps by authorizing federal partnership to develop first of a kind engineering for the latest reactor designs, and then to construct three demonstration plants. Once the demonstration has been made, tree-market competition will take it from there. And the amendment provides similar partnership mechanisms for the other clean technologies, so we are in no way favoring one technology over another.
No doubt, some people will object to the idea of the federal government playing any role in helping demonstrate and commercialize new and beneficial nuclear designs. I have spent 20 years in this body fighting for the responsible use of taxpayer dollars and against pork-barrel spending and corporate welfare. I will continue to do so.
The fact remains that fossil fuels have been subsidized for many decades at levels that can scarcely be calculated. The enormous economic costs of damage caused by air pollution and 11 greenhouse gas emissions to the environment and human health are not factored into the price of power produced by fossil-fueled technologies. Yet it's a cost that we all bear, too often in terms of ill-health and diminished quality of life. That is simply a matter of fact.
It's also inescapable that the ability to ``externalize'' these costs places clean competitors at a great disadvantage. Based on that fact, and in light of the enormous environmental and economic risk posed by global warming, I believe that providing zero and low emission technologies such as nuclear a boost into the market place where they can compete, and either sink or swim, is responsible public policy, and a matter of simple public necessity, particularly, as we enact a cap on carbon emissions.
The Navy has operated nuclear powered submarine for more than 50 years and has an impressive safety and performance record. The Naval Reactors program has demonstrated that nuclear power can be done safely. One of the underpinning of its safety record is the approach used in its reactor designs, which is to learn and built upon previous designs. Unfortunately for the commercial nuclear industry, they have not had the opportunity to use such an approach since the industry has not been able to build a reactor in over the past 25 years. This lapse in construction has led us to where we are today with the industry's aging infrastructure. As we have learned from other industries, this in itself represents a great risk to public safety.
I want to close my comments on the nuclear provisions with two thoughts. A recent article in Technology Review seems particularly pertinent to those with reservations about nuclear power. It stated, ``The best way for doubters to control a new technology is to embrace it, lest it remain in the hands of the enthusiasts.'' This is particularly sage advice because, frankly, the facts make it inescapably clear--those who are serious about the problem of global warming are serious about finding a solution. And the rule of nuclear energy which has no emissions has to be given due consideration.
Don't simply take my word regarding the magnitude of the global warming problem.
In 2001, President Bush wanted an assessment of climate change science. He further stated that climate change policy should be based upon sound science. He then turned to the National Academy of Sciences for an analysis of some key issues concerning climate change.
Shortly thereafter, the National Academy of Sciences reported that, ``Greenhouse gases are accumulating in the Earth's atmosphere as a result of human activities, causing surface air temperatures and subsurface ocean temperatures to rise. Temperatures are, in fact, rising. The changes observed over the last several decades are likely mostly due to human activities[.]''
As I mentioned earlier, the National Academy along with the national academies of 10 other countries are now calling for not only action, but prompt action for significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.
Let's also consider the warning on NASA's website which states: ``With the possible exception of another world war, a giant asteroid, or an incurable plague, global warming may be the single largest threat to our planet.''
Also consider the words of the EPA that: ``Rising global temperatures are expected to raise sea level, and change precipitation and other local climate conditions. Changing regional climate could alter forest, crop yields and water supplies[.]''
And let's consider the views of President Bush's Science Advisor, Dr. John Marburger, who says that, ``Global warming exists, and we have to do something about it, and what we have to do about it is reduce carbon dioxide.'' Again, the chief science advisor to the President of the United States says that global warming exists, and what we have to do about it is to reduce carbon dioxide!
The road ahead on climate change is a difficult and challenging one. However, with the appropriate investments in technology and the innovation process, we can and will prevail. Innovation and technology have helped us face many of our national challenges in the past, and can be equally important in this latest global challenge.
Advocates of the status quo seem to suggest that we do nothing, or next to nothing, about global warming because we don't know how bad the problem might become, and many of the worst effects of climate change are expected to occur in the future. This attitude reflects a selfish, live-for-today attitude unworthy of a great nation, and thankfully, not one practiced by preceding generations of Americans who devoted themselves to securing a bright and prosperous tomorrow for future generations, not just their own.
When looking back at Earth from space, the astronauts of Apollo 11 could see features such as the Great Wall of China and forest fires dotting the globe. They were moved by how small, solitary and fragile the earth looked from space. Our small, solitary and fragile planet is the only one we have and the United States of America is privileged to lead in all areas bearing on the advance of mankind. And lead again, we must, Mr. President. It is our privilege and sacred obligation as Americans.
I thank Senator Inhofe. He and I obviously have fundamental disagreements, and this probably won't be the last time we discuss our fundamental disagreement.
I ask unanimous consent to print a letter from the chairman of the Environment Committee in the European Parliament in the RECORD.
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Mr. McCAIN. This is a letter to Senator Domenici and Senator Bingaman from the chairman of the Environment Committee of the European Parliament. Basically, it says--astonishingly, I am shocked--I have reviewed a study prepared by the American Petroleum Institute, that unbiased bystander on this issue, ``claiming that the United States has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions intensity more than most other European Union countries and more than the EU as a whole. Similar claims were apparently repeated on the floor of the U.S. Senate yesterday, including remarks made by Senator Michael B. Enzi ..... While we can not be absolutely sure that the EU will be able to meet its Kyoto target ..... this claim truly misrepresents the performance of the European Union and its member states compared to the United States,'' which it does.
It should surprise no one that the American Petroleum Institute would put out less than an objective study.
Yesterday, Senator Voinovich and others referred to analysis by Charles River Associates concerning our climate change amendment, stating it would result in the loss of 24,000 to 47,000, blah, blah, blah. I think it is important to know that the Charles River Associates study was funded by an outfit called United for Jobs, Americans for Tax Reform, and various other industry-related entities, including petroleum-related organizations. It is based on totally false assumptions, including assuming a 70-year time line. I ask unanimous consent that a rebuttal to the Charles River Associates climate stewardship assumption article be printed in the RECORD.
There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in the RECORD, as follows:
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Mr. McCAIN. The analysis is clearly flawed, and we all know that it is flawed. Of course, this is what we always hear whenever there is a proposal that would improve our environment and our lives and others. It is the apocalypse now.
I would like for my colleagues to take note from this well-known sensationalist rag on the supermarket shelves, the National Geographic, which published probably one of the more comprehensive and in-depth pieces ever done called ``Global Warming, Bulletins From a Warmer World.'' The National Geographic, as they usually do, does an incredibly in-depth job to describe what is already happening and what will be happening in the future.
It reads, in part:
The climate is changing at an unnerving pace. Glaciers are retreating. Ice shelves are fracturing. Sea level is rising. Permafrost is melting. What role will humans play?
I hope my colleagues, when they have a chance, will read that.
I would like Members to look at this picture. This is Lake Powell. It was down to its lowest level since it was built. We did get some rain this winter, and there has been some change. A heat-damaged reef in the Indian Ocean offers poor habitat for passing fish. In fact, as I mentioned earlier, the Great Barrier Reef is predicted to be dying. This once was a lake, Lake Chad in Africa. The pictures go on and on. But perhaps one of the most important, of course, is the Arctic icecap. We know that the Arctic and the Antarctic are the miner's canary of what is going on. This clearly shows in 1979 the polar icecap. And it shows in 2003 the rather dramatic reductions. Also things are happening in Greenland which are significant and alarming.
These are the CO2 records from 2004. The debate about the hockey stick is becoming one that is irrelevant because, unfortunately, we are seeing this dramatic increase.
I would like to return for a minute to the joint science academies' statement, ``Global Response to Climate Change'':
There will always be uncertainty in understanding a system as complex as the world's climate. However, there is now strong evidence that significant global warming is occurring.
Mr. President, the Senator from Idaho mentioned that scientists from India and the Chinese also signed onto this, as if they were complicit. The fact is they are scientists first, and they are from China and India; they are as alarmed about this as anyone else should be.
Two weeks ago, the National Academy of Sciences, the national academies from the G8 countries--this was not 9 years ago but 2 weeks ago--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 gases.
That is why I appreciate the amendment of the Senator from Nebraska, which recognizes there is a problem. But we have to take prompt action now.
Mr. President, I have a fact sheet on myth versus fact that responds to some of the statements made on the floor. I ask unanimous consent that it be printed in the RECORD.
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Mr. McCAIN. Mr. President, I don't think it is likely that we will win this vote. I don't count votes, but I have been around here long enough that I can pretty well ``take the temperature of the body.'' It is rising. That is a bad metaphor that I can probably tell what is going to happen in our vote counts. All I can do is assure my colleagues that the first time Senator Lieberman and I came to the floor, there was no document from any scientific group that was as definitive as was issued 2 weeks ago by the National Academy of Sciences.
The next time Senator Lieberman and I are on the floor--and we will be back--there will be even more definitive statements by the world scientific community, more manifestations of this terrible calamity that is besetting this great world of ours, and over time we will win. I am very confident of that because we must act.
As far as Kyoto is concerned, Senator Lieberman and I know India and China would have to join as a condition for the United States to be even part of it, and the treaty itself may have to be modified to some degree. The reason why I worry is not because of the fact that I am not confident we will win; I am worried about what happens in the meantime. The condition was far less serious the first time Senator Lieberman and I took up this issue. The first time we had a hearing in the Commerce Committee 6 years ago, it was a problem. Now it is rapidly approaching a crisis of enormous proportions. So I worry that delay means further enormous challenges to make sure the environment of this Earth is not suffering permanent damage.
I urge my colleagues, after this vote, to get briefed, to get information, travel with us, do what you can to ascertain what is happening on the Earth. I think the next time we are on the floor, we will gain a majority.
I reserve the remainder of my time.