Congressman Blumenauer believes that global warming and the consequences of climate change is the greatest challenge this generation faces. He is using Special Orders of Congress to educate legislators and urge them to act on this impending global crisis. See the Special Orders of Congress here .
One of Congressman Blumenauer's top priorities is fighting global warming, which is one of the greatest challenges of our generation. The impacts of a changing climate are far-reaching; a threat not only to our natural ecosystems but to national security as well. In the Pacific Northwest, global warming will have the most significant impacts on our water cycle, which could mean major changes for agriculture, land use, growth and development, fisheries, and a host of other issues. Congressman Blumenauer is a leader in global warming and energy issues at both a regional and federal level. With his help, Oregon is recognized as a cutting edge state that is addressing global warming by developing renewable energy industries such as wind, wave, solar, and geothermal, adopting energy conservation and green building techniques, building a sustainable transportation network, and encouraging smart growth policies.
As the Vice Chairman of the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming and a member of the House Climate Change Caucus, Congressman Blumenauer supports efforts to combat global warming that involve all sectors of our economy, from energy production and use to transportation and the built environment. He supports legislation that would reduce emissions to avoid dangerous climate change, transition America to a clean energy economy, recognize and minimize any economic impacts from global warming legislation, and assist communities and ecosystems vulnerable to harm from climate change.
In 2008 Congressman Blumenauer joined a number of his colleagues in the House calling for a series of principles to guide Congress as it produces comprehensive global warming legislation.
Congressman Blumenauer has also introduced the "Clean Low-Emissions Affordable New Transportation Efficiency Act," or "CLEAN TEA" (H.R. 1329), which would designate 10% of any revenue generated by climate change legislation to funding transportation projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency
Greenhouse Gas Mitigation
Transportation and Urban Development
The Federal Government Leading By Example
Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency
Congressman Blumenauer is working to ensure that consumers in Oregon and around the country have a dependable supply of energy that is clean and renewable. He strongly supports a renewable electricity standard, requiring that utilities generate at least 20% of their energy from renewable resources, at both the state and federal levels.
Congressman Blumenauer believes that a combination of regulations, tax incentives, and investment in research and development for cleaner energy can stimulate the market and help put renewable energy on equal footing with traditional fossil fuels. As a member of the Ways and Means Committee, he has advocated for a long-term extension of the Production Tax Credit (PTC) and other tax incentives for renewable energy. He introduced the Rural Wind Energy Development Act, which would provide an investment tax credit to consumers who purchase small wind turbines.
Conservation and efficiency are the fastest and least expensive way to reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. The energy required by residential, commercial, and industrial buildings accounts for approximately one-third of U.S carbon dioxide emissions. Congressman Blumenauer supports increasing energy efficiency standards, as well as tax incentives, for buildings and appliances. The 2007 energy bill signed into law by President Bush includes an amendment authored by Congressman Blumenauer to increase incentives for natural gas companies to promote energy efficiency. This provision, which was supported by the American Gas Association and the Natural Resources Defense Council, requires natural gas utilities to prioritize and plan for energy efficiency and requires state regulators to consider crafting rate policies that align utility revenue recovery measures with incentives for energy conservation. At the end of 2008, Congress passed the Rural Wind Energy Development Act, legislation authored by Blumenauer to create an investment tax credit for small wind turbines.
Greenhouse Gas Mitigation
Congressman Blumenauer strongly supports reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80% by 2050, which is the level that scientists say is necessary to avoid the most dangerous impacts of climate change. Fortunately, many of the efforts we undertake to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will save money in the long-run and will have the added benefit of reducing our dependence on oil, much of which is imported at great costs from increasingly volatile regions of the world.
One of the ways to reduce carbon dioxide emissions is by putting a price on carbon, and Congressman Blumenauer supports doing this through a tax or a market-based trading system. He supports using the value created by such a system to fund programs that facilitate clean energy production and efficiency and offset the potential increased cost to consumers and businesses.
The energy bill passed by the House of Representatives in 2007 included a provision authored by Congressman Blumenauer that requires the National Academy of Sciences to examine the Internal Revenue Code to determine the effects that each tax provision has on carbon emissions and climate effects.
Transportation and Urban Development
The transportation sector represents about one third of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Congressman Blumenauer supports making improvements to the nation's transportation system that will not only reduce emissions, but also help reduce our dependence on foreign oil. He strongly supports increasing the fuel efficiency of passenger vehicles to at least 40 miles per gallon and reducing the carbon content of fuel. He introduced legislation to close the "Hummer Tax Loophole," which encourages small businesses to buy bigger and less efficient luxury SUVs. This legislation was included in the House passed energy bill in 2007.
While greenhouse gas emissions can be substantially reduced by increasing fuel efficiency, these technological improvements are likely to be offset by continuing growth in vehicle miles traveled (VMT). Since 1980, the number of miles Americans drive has grown three times faster than the U.S. population, and almost twice as fast as vehicle registrations. Congressman Blumenauer supports a number of straight-forward policies that can reduce VMT, such as providing people transportation choices through increased mass transit, sidewalks, and bike lanes. Blumenauer's legislation, CLEAN TEA, will accomplish this by providing funding for these strategies through climate legislation.
Congressman Blumenauer is the founder and chairman of the Congressional Bike Caucus. In 2008, Congress passed, and President Bush signed, Congressman Blumenauer's Bike Commuter Act, which would extend transportation fringe benefits, similar to those offered for parking and transit, to those who commute by bicycle. In addition, shortening the driving distance between destinations through smart growth policies and better planned communities can reduce the amount people have to drive. These policies have additional benefits, including increased mobility, greater affordability, and healthier lifestyles.
Climate change is a global problem whose solution requires active participation by all nations. Congressman Blumenauer has traveled to Greenland and Europe with Speaker Pelosi to witness first hand the impacts of climate change and what other countries are doing to combat it. He believes that as the largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world, the United States has a unique responsibility to take the lead in combating global warming. He strongly supports re-engaging in international conversations on climate change.
Congressman Blumenauer understands that imposing carbon constraints on the U.S. economy could impact the international competitiveness of certain U.S. industries. He believes that federal climate policy can address this issue by imposing the same costs or carbon constraints on imports that we impose on our own businesses. As a member of the Trade Subcommittee of Ways and Means, Congressman Blumenauer is working to ensure that our nation's trade policies support and encourage reductions in greenhouse gas emissions in other countries, strengthen the Oregon and US economies, and help industries capture value in a carbon constrained economy.
The Federal Government Leading by Example
As the largest consumer of energy in the world, Congressman Blumenauer believes that the Federal government should lead by example and model the behavior it expects from business and consumers on energy and climate issues. The government can use its own vast resources to reduce or eliminate the problems associated with our patterns of oil dependency and greenhouse gas emissions. He has worked with Speaker Pelosi on the "Greening of the Capitol" initiative, which has already lowered the carbon footprint of the House of Representatives by increasing energy efficiency, switching to renewable power, promoting biking and carsharing, and reducing waste. Not only will this help the environment, but it will save U.S. taxpayers money in the long run.
Even if the world stops emitting greenhouse gases today, scientists warn that due to the legacy of historic emissions, changes already observed, and unpredictable feedback processes, we are committed to a warmer planet. Impacts felt around the world may include tropical storms increasing in frequency and intensity, sea level rise, biodiversity losses, increased drought, and stress on productive agricultural lands. Addressing these risks may involve reducing development in hazardous or ecologically sensitive areas and changing construction techniques to make communities and their associated infrastructure more resilient. Congressman Blumenauer is working to ensure that government agencies use the best available science to take climate change into account in planning and risk management. He is pursuing comprehensive adaptation strategies, such as flood mitigation, that will protect lives, keep our economy strong, and enhance the environment. During the 110th Congress, he co-sponsored a lecture series by the United States Geological Survey about climate change and natural disasters. In 2007, the House passed Blumenauer legislation to require the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to take global warming into account when updating its floodplain maps.