Consumers First Energy Act of 2008 - Motion to Proceed - Continued

Floor Speech

By:  Lindsey Graham
Date: June 5, 2008
Location: Washington, DC


CONSUMERS FIRST ENERGY ACT OF 2008--MOTION TO PROCEED--Continued -- (Senate - June 05, 2008)

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Mr. GRAHAM. Madam President, over the past 5 years there has been a sea-change in the way we talk about climate change. I was hoping that this debate would serve as an opportunity to constructively discuss the issue. Unfortunately, we are unable to offer amendments or probe into the contents of this legislation. That is a real missed opportunity and I will be forced to oppose cloture.

Make no mistake about it; the Senate needs to discuss climate change. We need an in-depth debate about climate change legislation which will have profound environmental and economic impacts. Senators must be able to offer amendments in order to improve the legislation. That last time the Senate considered legislation with as broad an environmental scope, the Clean Air Act, we spent a total of 5 weeks debating the bill and took close to 180 votes. With this legislation, we are taking less than a week and voting on zero amendments.

I applaud the work that Senators WARNER and LIEBERMAN have done on this issue. The bill certainly advances the climate issue and they deserve our appreciation. This legislation marks a truly comprehensive effort to address this issue.

Despite their best intentions, the Boxer substitute amendment that is on the floor right now has some provisions that are troubling and omits important solutions to climate change that need debate.

Of particular concern to me was the inclusion of a provision in the legislation that limited the number of credits rural electric co-ops were eligible to receive. These credits were further narrowed by a pilot program that diverted 15 percent of the remaining credits to co-ops in Virginia and Montana. Co-ops and municipal power generators must be treated equitably with investor owned utilities, IOUs. In 2005, we passed an energy bill that left out co-ops and municipals from seeing the benefit of a nuclear production tax credit and federal loan guarantees. We need to be sure climate legislation does not do the same.

Additionally, the legislation that we are debating has no references to nuclear power. I had planned to address this through the amendment process but unfortunately, we were unable to advance the debate on this bill. However, make no mistake, if we are to seriously address climate change, nuclear must be part of the solution. The founder of Greenpeace, Dr. Patrick Moore, said it best:

Nuclear energy is the only large-scale, cost-effective energy source that can reduce these emissions while continuing to satisfy a growing demand for power. And these days it can do so safely.

When it comes to climate change legislation, I am not a scientist and I don't pretend to be. So instead of focusing on the science of the issue, I would like to focus on what I know. And that is: we have an obligation to limit what we emit into the atmosphere.

Additionally, there is growing alarm over the national security implications of climate change. From scarcity of food to increasing energy dependence, the imperative to address this issue is growing. We need to use climate change legislation as a driver for the new technologies that will enable us to break free from dependency on foreign energy sources.

There is a lot of concern over the economic impact of climate change legislation. This is an important debate. We have to be honest; addressing this issue will have a significant cost and significant benefits associated with it. However, I do believe that we can craft legislation that can achieve our goals in a manner that benefits both our environment and our economy.

Manufacturers of components for nuclear power plants, windmills, and solar power are looking to Washington to ascertain what the market will be for their products. Climate change legislation can send the signals to the market that will foster innovation and drive technology development; especially in the area of nuclear power.

Ultimately the Senate will come together in the next few years to thoughtfully address this issue. I look forward to being a part of that debate, and a part of the solution.

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