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Public Statements

Climate Change

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

CLIMATE CHANGE -- (Senate - May 21, 2008)

Mr. BROWN. Mr. President, both the international community and experts from across our country have come to a definite consensus. Climate change is not a theory. It is a reality. We may not like it, but we have to confront it. Rising temperatures, melting icecaps, and extreme weather show the increasing effects of global warming in the United States and especially around the globe. Without action, we will be unable to avoid dangerous consequences for our children, grandchildren, and subsequent generations. We risk the health of our citizens, the well-being of our coastal areas, the productivity of our farms, forests, and fisheries.

There is solid support in this institution and around the country for a mandatory cap-and-trade approach to reducing carbon emissions. All three Presidential candidates--Senators OBAMA, CLINTON, and McCain--and both political parties have agreed on this philosophy. The Senate passed the Lieberman-Warner bill out of committee in December. It is likely to reach the floor of the Senate in the next few weeks. I am not saying a climate change bill will pass this year. I am saying a climate change bill will pass. No more burying our heads in the sand, no more ignoring the issue and putting it off for another day. It is not a question of whether; it is a question of when and a question of what it will look like.

As a manufacturing State reliant on coal--not too different from the State of the Presiding Officer--Ohio is going to be significantly affected by the climate change bill regardless of its specifics. I am working with Senators from other industrial States--Senators Casey, Bayh, Lugar, Durbin, Stabenow, Levin, and others--to ensure that the effects on manufacturing jobs are considered as this legislation is drafted. We can't shut our eyes or turn our backs or hope that global warming goes away and becomes someone else's problem. That is not going to happen. But we can maximize Ohio's gains, Pennsylvania's gains, the gains of other States, and minimize those losses, looking first at the opportunities presented to us by global change legislation.

The mandatory cap-and-trade approach to climate change will create a market for clean energy and green jobs. By creating markets for clean energy, we can stabilize our Nation's energy supply, reduce greenhouse gases, and bolster manufacturing in Lima, Zaynesville, Toledo, and Ashtabula. It has been estimated that in terms of a global market, the advanced and alternative energy sector will double several times over in the next decade, from a $55 billion industry to a $226 billion business. Wind power alone, it is estimated, will grow from $18 billion to a $61 billion market. In the last 15 months, I have conducted roundtables in Ohio, bringing together 15 or 20 people to talk about problems, about their communities. You can see what is happening in a State such as mine.

The Cleveland Foundation, in conjunction with Case Western Reserve University, is going to build a field of wind turbines in Lake Erie, the first time wind turbines have ever been placed in a freshwater lake.

I have seen the Composite Center in Dayton which makes new, lighter, stronger materials, initially for airplanes, now for fuel-efficient automobiles and wind turbines. The University of Toledo is doing some of the best wind turbine research in the United States. In Columbus and Ohio State, there is the Center for Automotive Research, the work they are doing for more fuel-efficient automobiles. Today I talked with someone who was visiting Washington from Battelle Institute. They are doing astonishing things on a whole range of issues; Stark State and Rolls-Royce on fuel cells. Oberlin College has built the largest building of any college campus in the country fully powered by solar energy. The problem is those solar cells and panels are not made in this country because we don't make them. They were bought from Germany and Japan.

At the same time, we are seeing the largest solar company in the country producing near Toledo in Perrysburg. In Ashtabula, right across the border from Erie, we are seeing components for wind turbines. In place after place, Ohio is helping to lead the way to make my State the Silicon Valley of renewable energy.

Ohio has the potential to create 20,000 new jobs through renewable energy projects. That puts Ohio second only to California in terms of potential job creation. But we have a lot of work to do. Any climate change legislation must invest in the deployment of renewable energy technology and promote green job growth. That is why I introduced legislation called the Green Energy Production Act last month. It is an energy bill, an environment bill, and a jobs bill. The bill creates a government corporation that will set up loan programs and grant programs for green energy manufacturers, mostly small businesses, to get them to develop products and get them to market.

Over 5 years, the bill would invest $36 billion with no political strings attached, no Government picking winners and losers but companies that need capital that are just taking off, small businesses, businesses that need to grow, businesses that need to expand. Some $36 billion will be invested in green energy manufacturing. We have great R&D in my State, but the big problem is commercialization, the key to creating jobs in my State.

Speaking of jobs, we can't overlook the tremendous challenges the industrial Midwest will face under climate change legislation. My State is the seventh largest in the country by population. We are the fourth largest carbon-emitting State, behind California, Texas, and New York. In the past year and a half, I have held roundtables all over my State in some 60 of the 88 counties. They have given me an opportunity to be with workers and business people and civic leaders and local government officials.

One thing is crystal clear: Ohioans are anxious about their communities' futures, and the statistics match their anxiety. More than 40,000 manufacturing plants have shut down in the United States since 2001. More than 3.3 million manufacturing jobs have been lost, about one-sixth of all U.S. manufacturing jobs. My State has lost more than 200,000 jobs. Pennsylvania is comparable. The simple fact is, our economy cannot prosper unless we manufacture and sell goods as a State and a nation. Manufacturing is too important to the prosperity of this country and to our economic and national security. Manufacturing is too important to ignore, as this Government has done in the last few years.

I know, given a level playing field, our companies can outcompete any around the globe. Any climate change legislation must be developed in conjunction with manufacturers to ensure U.S. competitiveness with other growing industrial giants in the world, particularly China and India. We must work together to ensure that domestic manufacturers are protected from imports that come from countries without comparable climate change legislation. That means working together to provide appropriate transition assistance to our energy intensive industries. My State, in some sense, specializes in energy-intensive industries--steel, chemicals, glass, cement, aluminum. We must work together to minimize any economic harm while ensuring the environmental integrity of the climate change legislation.

The bill that came out of committee needs to do a better job. It has made progress from the original bill to the substitute bill brought forward by Senator Boxer. It has made major progress, but it has to do a better job of addressing the need, particularly in people's own personal electric bills and the cost of energy to manufacturers. The bill needs to help low- and middle-income consumers who will face higher energy costs and must help communities and workers who are displaced due to a shift from coal power. It means providing support necessary to create green jobs in Ohio and across the Midwest, and it means helping those energy-intensive manufacturers I was talking about with their energy costs and with unregulated international competition. Some environmental groups quote economic models saying that business under a cap-and-trade program will be all wine and roses. They are on one side. Some business groups are touting economic models that predict climate change legislation will send us all back to living in caves. Both sides are wrong. It is not going to be that easy, but it is also not going to put American business out of business.

One last point. When you talk to people about climate change, one of the first questions that always comes up is what do we do about China and India. If they are not going to, why should we, in some sense, unilaterally disarm as a country, putting more and more costs on Ohio businesses in Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, Cincinnati? Why should we put more cost on these businesses, when China and India are not doing that? We have three possibilities. One is do nothing. That is unacceptable. We have two other possibilities:

To work with countries around the world on bringing them to a level of climate change comparable to the level we want to get to; one is multilateral environment and climate change agreements, negotiations, Kyoto-type agreements among all the major industrial powers in the world. That will take years. That will perhaps only be as successful as Kyoto, which wasn't very successful, ultimately.

The other path to walk down is what we do about trade legislation, about accepting those products coming into the United States from other countries. When we have pretty strong environmental laws, you know in your State what has happened with the steel industry, where they have put huge numbers of dollars into scrubbers and other kinds of environmental cleanup. China and India, frankly, don't do that. When we buy products from China and India, we buy steel from them, discounting the issue of toxic toys and contaminants in vitamins and all the unsafe products they send us that are ultimately consumer products, but when we buy steel from China and India, that steel is made by cheaper labor, and it is also made with very weak environmental rules.

The only way to change that, to get China and India to the table, if you will, if we will not do the negotiations that will be so difficult and tedious and take so long, is to say, every time we import steel from China and India, steel where there is an environmental cost in its production, we charge a tariff at the border, a tariff reflecting the cost that they have not borne but that our manufacturers bear on the production of that steel. So why should a steel company in Lorain or a foundry in Mahoning Valley have to pay these huge additional costs under climate change to deal with their carbon emissions, when people in China and India don't? The only way to equalize that and to make this competitive and keep American business competitive is to figure out what it actually costs China and what moneys China and India save by not coming up to the same level of environmental protection that we do.

That should always have been part of the trade debate. The Bush administration has never believed that. That is one of the reasons we have lost so many manufacturing jobs in my State, since President Bush took office--bad trade policy, bad environmental policy, bad labor policy.

Ultimately, this climate change issue is going to be about equalizing the cost of making air cleaner, limiting carbon emissions, dealing with all the issues around CO 2. The way to do that is through a trade policy that works for us, for China, for India, and especially works for our grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and those subsequent generations. We must work together in this institution to shape legislation that truly addresses global climate change while protecting our manufacturing jobs. That means working assiduously with countries around the world in reaching those goals.

I yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum.

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