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Smith-Backed Climate Change Provision Included in House-Passed Energy Bill

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Location: Washington, DC


Smith-Backed Climate Change Provision Included in House-Passed Energy Bill

Legislation to promote an international response to the threat of global warming that U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) helped to champion was incorporated into the comprehensive energy bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives today.

"Climate change is a global challenge that must be addressed with a global solution. The legislation I worked to have incorporated as Title II in the energy bill calls for an active, dedicated U.S. re-engagement in the effort to reach a global agreement on climate change," Smith said.

The "International Climate Cooperation Re-engagement Act" (H.R. 2420), which was sponsored by Rep. Tom Lantos (D-CA) and Smith was passed by the House Foreign Affairs Committee in May as a stand-alone bill. It passed the House today as Title II of the "New Direction for Energy Independence, National Security, and Consumer Protection Act" (H.R. 3221).

Smith called the comprehensive energy bill a "step in the right direction toward reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and ensuring a healthy environment for future generations."

Specifically, the provision Smith worked to include as Title II of the energy bill:

* Creates an Office for Global Climate Change within the U.S. Department of State to be headed by an Ambassador-at-Large;
* Mandates a serious U.S. re-engagement in the effort to reach a global agreement that requires binding emissions mitigation commitments from all the major emitters including China and India;
* Authorizes $1 billion over five years for assistance programs to developing countries that will promote clean-energy production in even the poorest nations; and
* Creates the International Clean Energy Foundation to promote programs that serve as models for significantly reducing global greenhouse gas emissions through clean and efficient energy technologies, processes and services.

Smith highlighted the benefits of each of the key points today as the House moved to pass the bill.

While noting that he has long advocated for the creation of an office to address global climate change, Smith said, "The idea of designating an office within the State Department to focus attention and energy on climate change—an idea I first proposed 17 years ago—will move the ball forward on the issue of global warming by establishing a single point person for our diplomatic efforts to address climate change."

Stating that it is imperative that all greenhouse-emitting countries be brought to the table for climate change negotiations, Smith said, "This bill emphasizes the necessity for all major greenhouse emitting countries to cooperate in reducing and stabilizing atmospheric concentrations of these gases—even China and India who have been left out of previous efforts. It calls on the United States to play a leadership role in this endeavor by, among other things, engaging rapidly industrializing countries to reduce pollution at the source."

On clean-energy assistance programs for developing nations, Smith said, "We know that climate change has a disproportionate impact on the vulnerable, poor populations of our world. Authorization of funding and other assistance programs for developing countries to promote clean and efficient energy technologies will compliment our foreign assistance programs by helping developing countries build their economies in environmentally-safe ways."

Smith praised the creation of a foundation to aid international efforts to combat global warming saying, "The International Clean Energy Foundation promises to add a particularly effective tool in our arsenal against adverse climate change. By promoting programs that serve as models for significantly reducing global greenhouse gas emissions through clean and efficient energy technologies, processes and services, the Foundation will play a key leadership role in the effort to address climate change on the international stage."

Smith's bipartisan efforts with Lantos to incorporate H.R. 2420 into the comprehensive energy bill marks a continuation of his long-standing leadership on environmental issues and global warming. Along with H.R. 2420, Smith is cosponsoring legislation in the 110th Congress to increase Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards for cars and light trucks (H.R. 1506); to increase tax credits to make solar and wind power more affordable and accessible to all Americans (H.R. 1596); and to extend existing tax credits for solar and fuel cell property (H.R. 550).

The "New Direction for Energy Independence, National Security, and Consumer Protection Act" (H.R. 3221) is a comprehensive plan to combat global warming, provide national security by reducing dependence on foreign oil, help to better protect our natural wildlife, and offer international assistance to developing countries to promote clean and efficient energy technologies. The bill passed by a vote of 241-172.


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