Tuesday, March 20

Sen. Tom Harkin on Global Warming

I appreciate hearing your thoughts on global warming and your support for S. 309, the Global Warming Pollution Reduction Act of 2007. There is growing concern that human activities, including the burning of fossil fuels, industrial production, deforestation, and certain land-use practices, are increasing atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases.

These gasses are leading to changes in the fundamental chemical and physical composition of Earth's atmosphere and have the potential to affect Earth's climate. Indeed, global average temperatures are rising as a result of these atmospheric changes, and that trend is projected to continue. I am very much interested in finding ways to reward those who take steps to reduce or affect greenhouse gas emissions and lessen the threat of global warming. Many states and local governments have already taken the initiative to lower their contribution to global warming and I commend these efforts.

Over 418 US cities, including New York, Chicago and Los Angeles as well as a number of Iowan cities such as Des Moines, Sioux City and Dubuque, have signed the Climate Protection Agreement, which commits these cities to the strict environmental standards of the Kyoto Protocol. California recently passed the Global Warming Solutions Act, committing the world's twelth highest emitter of greenhouse gases to the guidelines of the Kyoto Protocol. If we are serious about taking the necessary steps to curb our contribution to global warming, we need to follow the bold steps of our local leaders. And reducing our greenhouse gas emissions does not have to happen at the expense of American businesses and industries. For example, California as well as a number of Northeastern states are participating in a cap-and-trade program, which allows businesses and industries to earn credits for meeting stricter environmental and emissions standards. These credits can then be sold or traded to other businesses that do not meet these same environmental standards – otherwise, they face penalties. This program gives businesses the incentive to engage in environmentally-friendly practices, while giving them the freedom to decide how and even if they want to participate.

I have recently introduced a bipartisan bill, the Biofuels Security Act of 2007 (S.23), a bold initiative that requires American industries to produce at least 60 billion gallons of renewable fuel by 2030. In order to ensure a market for this fuel, it also requires car manufacturers to produce increasing numbers of Flexible Fuel Vehicles (FFV's) and major oil companies to install E-85 pumps at stations that they own or brand. This legislation will not only reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, but also move America closer to energy independence and revitalize America's heartland with thousands of new jobs.

I am supportive of the efforts of Senators Boxer and Sanders to seriously address the issue of greenhouse gas emissions and I hope to work with them to pass a comprehensive global warming bill this year.

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