Issue Position: Energy and Environment
It is possible to create legislation that protects both our environment and our economy. By advocating a multi-faceted and common-sense approach to our nation's environmental energy problems, we can set the stage for a cleaner tomorrow.
As chairman of the Clean Air and Nuclear Safety subcommittee, I have advocated for stronger clean air laws and have urged Congress to do something about global warming, which stands as one of our greatest environmental challenges of the 21st century.
Landmark Legislation I support America's Climate Security Act, landmark legislation that would cut greenhouse gas pollutants - such as carbon dioxide - that contribute to global warming. I also believe, however, that any comprehensive global warming bill should include limits on toxic emissions of mercury, nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide. Sulfur dioxide emissions result in 24,000 premature deaths each year in the United States. Nitrous oxides contribute to asthma attacks, which send thousands to the emergency room annually, and mercury pollution from power plants results in 630,000 babies born each year with dangerous blood-mercury levels. I have introduced legislation - the Clean Air Planning Act (CAPA) - which would take steps to drastically cut our emissions of these three harmful pollutants.
In addition, I recently introduced the Mercury Emissions Control Act (MECA) which would require the Environmental Protection Agency to issue stronger regulations to control hazardous mercury emissions from power plants.
Nuclear Power I have been a long-time supporter of nuclear energy. I believe clean, safe energy is what this country needs and what nuclear power has to offer. Nuclear power provides solutions to many problems facing America today. It will help reduce our reliance on foreign oil and reduce air pollution that damages our environment and causes global warming. As chairman of the Senate subcommittee that oversees the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and our nation's civilian nuclear operations, I want to ensure this essential federal agency is protecting the public's health and security. I will continue to hold hearings to ensure that we have a strong, robust and safe nuclear industry.
CAFE Standards On December 19, 2007, the President signed the Energy Independence and Security Act into law. This comprehensive package is a strong first step toward securing America's energy future by reducing our reliance on foreign oil and reducing harmful emissions into our air. The cornerstone of the law is a compromise I helped negotiate to increase the fleet-wide fuel economy average for cars, trucks and SUVs sold in the United States by roughly 10 miles per gallon by 2020 - or from 25 miles per gallon today to 35 miles per gallon overall. Doing so will cut our oil consumption by 1.1 million barrels per day and reduce the emissions of more than 192 million metric tons of carbon dioxide each year by 2020. At the same time, it will save the average family with two cars up to $1,000 a year in gasoline costs.
Having said that, we must do more to foster a clean energy future that reduces our dependence on foreign oil, combats the threat of global warming and curbs ever-rising energy costs. I am committed to working for a future in which we depend more on the ingenuity of our nation's innovators than the vagaries of foreign governments to secure the energy supplies America needs.