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Public Statements

Statements on Introduced Bills and Joint Resolutions

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Ms. COLLINS. Mr. President, I rise today to introduce The Clean Cookstoves Support Act, which addresses a serious global environmental and public health issue. I am pleased to be joined in this effort by my friend and colleague, Senator Durbin.

Nearly half the world's population cooks food over open fires or inefficient, polluting, and unsafe cookstoves, using firewood, dung, or coal as fuel. Smoke from these traditional cookstoves and open fires is associated with a number of chronic and acute diseases, with women and young children affected disproportionately. The World Health Organization estimates cookstove smoke to be one of the top five threats to public health in poor, developing countries. This smoke may account for nearly two million deaths annually in the developing world, which is more than the deaths from malaria, tuberculosis, or HIV.

Traditional cookstoves also create serious environmental impacts. The amount of biomass cooking fuel required each year can reach up to two tons per family, and local environmental degradation can result where demand for fuel outstrips the natural regrowth of resources. Recent studies show that emissions of black carbon, or common soot, from biomass cookstoves significantly contribute to climate change, second only to carbon dioxide in impact.

These stoves should be replaced with modern alternatives to reverse these alarming health and environmental trends. Fortunately, modern stoves, designed to burn fuel efficiently, can eliminate up to 90 percent of the black carbon produced during cooking and home heating. This would be relatively inexpensive and could be done quickly it is what scientists call the ``low-hanging fruit'' of environmental fixes.

Through the leadership of Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and the United Nations Foundation, the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves was formed in 2010. Recognizing the severity of the global health and environmental issues, this public-private partnership aims to save lives, improve livelihoods, empower women, and combat pollution by creating a thriving global market for clean and efficient household cooking solutions. The Alliance partners are working to help overcome the market barriers that currently impede the production, deployment, and use of clean cookstoves in the developing world.

To assist in this important endeavor, several Federal agencies the Departments of State, Energy, and Health and Human Services, including NIH and CDC, the United States Agency for International Development, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation have committed to contribute to the Alliance in three key areas.

First: support for research and development to improve design, lower costs, and develop global industry standards and testing protocols for cookstoves. Second: diplomatic engagement to encourage a commercial market for clean stoves and promote several strategies, including reducing trade barriers, promoting consumer awareness, and improving access to financing. Third: the launch of international development projects to distribute the clean stoves to targeted areas, including refugee camps, disaster relief efforts, and long-term aid programs, as well as projects aimed at women and girls. These contributions will assist the Alliance in reaching its goal of spurring the adoption of clean cookstoves in 100 million households by 2020.

Our legislation reinforces the commitment these U.S. agencies have made to the Alliance and requires the Secretary of State in consultation with the relevant Federal agencies, and in coordination with relevant international nongovernmental organizations and private and governmental entities to work to advance the goals of the Alliance. In addition, our bill formally authorizes the agency's funding commitments to ensure that these crucial pledges toward preventing unnecessary illness and reducing pollution around the globe are met.

By supporting the work of the Alliance to replace primitive stoves with modern versions that emit far less soot, this legislation would directly benefit some of the world's poorest people and reduce harmful pollution that affects us all.

This measure addresses an important global pollutant and alleviates a serious public health and environmental concern affecting developing nations. I urge my colleagues to join us in supporting The Clean Cookstoves Support Act.


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