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The Safe Climate Caucus

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. GARAMENDI. Mr. Blumenauer, I would be honored to participate in this conversation. And, Mr. Speaker, it's always a great pleasure and, in fact, important that those of us 435 that have been elected to represent the American citizens rise on the floor to speak to issues of great importance.

When all is debated, at the end of those debates I suppose we ought to say, Was that important? We debated earlier about a piece of this puzzle, but this is the most consequential issue facing the entire globe. Climate change is a very, very real challenge for the human race.

In the early nineties, I was Deputy Secretary at the Department of the Interior and was asked by the President and Vice President at the time to join in developing a strategy for America at the Kyoto Conference, which was the second international effort to come to grips with this issue. We studied the various ramifications of climate change and we predicted that what you just described in your opening statement, Mr. Blumenauer, would happen. And, indeed, it is happening--the climate is changing. It is warmer.

There are more extreme events, and the impact is already being perceived in those things that are most unnoticed, which is the change in the vegetation and in the flora and fauna throughout the United States. As you hike through the mountains of the Sierras, you have to go a little higher to see species, both animal and fauna, that lived at a lower elevation. They're moving up the mountain, those that can. Those that can't, for example, some species of trees and plants that aren't able to remove their roots and move up the mountain, and they're simply going to become extinct.

Now, what do we do about it? Well, there are many things we can do without actually harming the economy. In fact, there are many things we can do that will cause the economy to grow, for example, conservation. Conservation of energy is an enormously important way to conserve our money, our energy supplies, and reduce carbon emissions, because much of the energy in the United States actually comes from carbon emissions.

For example, how about better mileage in our cars? Thankfully, we have President Obama and the Democratic administration that has taken very aggressive steps to reduce the consumption of gasoline and diesel in our automobiles and trucks, thereby conserving and saving us money and simultaneously reducing greenhouse gas emission.

There are many, many other things. One bill we took up on the floor today that passed--and my amendment wasn't adopted--but, nonetheless, it is the small hydro. It's using hydropower wisely where we can, without harming the environment, but also adding to the energy production. Moving away from coal, which we know to be the single biggest source of carbon from power plants as we generate electricity, moving initially to gas-fired power plants, which have significantly less carbon emissions, and in that process, taking the steps to move to renewable power sources of all kinds--hydro, where it makes sense.

How about wind turbines? I don't have the statistics with me today, but we've made an enormous advancement in wind energy and solar energy. And by the way, if we're going to do that in the United States with our tax policies and give a tax rebate or credit, then we ought to make it in America. Have those turbines and solar panels made in America so that we not only do what is right by the environment, but we also do what it right by the American workers so that we can rebuild our American manufacturing.

There are many, many other concepts, all of which grow the economy. They don't harm the economy at all but, rather, grow the economy. Reducing emissions, not only carbon emissions, but from the coal-fired power plants, reducing rather dangerous substances like mercury and arsenic.

So we should move these things forward. Unfortunately, we are running up against a block of votes on the right side of this House--not right on policy but, rather, in location--where they are blocking the efforts that we must make to come to grips with this. My point here is that, while this is a fundamental problem for this Nation, it's also a fundamental opportunity for America to grow a new economy.

We just heard read here on the floor not more than 30 minutes ago the statement by the President of his new budget in which he makes the point that, by addressing climate change, we also address the need to rebuild the American economy and to set it on a path where we can compete and sell these technologies and products all around the world. Because this is not just an American problem, this is a national-international problem, and all of us, wherever we are, whatever country we are in, we must take action. We must take action. We cannot let this slide.

And my plea, as you made yours, Mr. Blumenauer, to our Republicans colleagues is: let's debate this. If you don't believe this is a problem, come to the floor and tell us why this is not a problem. If you do not believe that we should manufacture wind turbines and solar panels here in the United States and deploy them rather than continuing with the coal-based economy, then tell us why. I wait for that debate, and I'll join you in it, Mr. Blumenauer.

Thank you for the privilege of joining you. I see that we have another colleague. We may reopen the West Coast-East Coast show, Mr. Blumenauer.

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Mr. GARAMENDI. If I might interrupt you for a second, there are those that would claim that this place is also a windy Chamber.

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