VIDEO - Sen. Tom Carper: "As someone who represents the lowest lying state in the nation – Delaware – climate change is not a science lecture, it affects my constituents daily. This issue is personal."
Sen. Tom Carper, top Democrat on the Environment and Public Works Committee, spoke on the Senate floor and led Senate Democrats in highlighting how the Trump Administration’s proposal to replace the Clean Power Plan would lead to more toxic air pollution, higher energy costs and increased carbon pollution.
I rise today with my colleagues to speak out against the Trump EPA’s Dirty Power Plan, a proposal intended to replace Obama’s Clean Power Plan.
This proposal fails to address climate change and will put Americans’ health at risk. Mr. President, millions of American children are headed back to school. All three of my children are grown, but not so long ago we were sending our kids to school, helping them with their homework, and making sure they were getting good grades.
Fortunately, our boys didn’t bring home any failing grades. However, I can’t say the same for the Trump Administration. If corruption was a class, the Trump Administration would be getting an ‘A+.’ Yet, in just about everything else – especially public health and economics-the Trump Administration continues to fail the American people every day. It’s clear this Administration needs to do a lot more homework – especially in basic science.
Let’s be clear, the science behind climate change is settled. Climate change is real. It’s happening. It’s a growing threat to Americans and it is getting worse every year. Climate change is leading to rising global temperatures, rising sea levels, and more intense and frequent weather events, according to NOAA. Extreme weather events costing $1 billion or more have doubled in frequency over the past decade – with $425 billion in losses occurring over the last five years alone. That’s $425 billion with a ‘B.’ It’s now hard to find a part of the country that isn’t being affected some way by climate change. We see the examples almost everywhere. In the past two years alone, two 1,000 year floods have devastated Ellicott City, Maryland just north of Washington D.C. Forest fires, fueled by extreme heat and drought, continue to ravage states like Montana, California and Oregon. Since we started keeping records, only forty-nine Category 5 hurricanes have threatened the United States. Three of those forty-nine Category 5 hurricanes occurred in the last year alone, one of them is threatening the people of Hawaii today. I could go on and on. Make no mistake, climate change is costing Americans in the form of lost incomes, lost livelihoods, and sadly, in some cases, lost lives.
As someone who represents the lowest lying state in the nation – Delaware – climate change is not a science lecture, it affects my constituents daily. This issue is personal. That’s why I have worked my entire Senate career to find ways to move us away from fossil fuels and reduce carbon pollution. It all started in 2002, when I introduced one of the first bills in Congress to cap carbon emissions from coal-fired plants.
The good news is that we’ve made progress. That’s in part due to huge investments that the Obama Administration and Congress made over the last decade in clean energy. It is also due to smart regulations such as the Clean Power Plan. I proudly supported these efforts. In addition, many companies across the country have stepped up. For them, making real investments in clean energy has turned out to be the right thing to do AND a wise investment. It’s possible to do well and good at the same time.
As a result of these actions, our country rebounded from one of its greatest economic downturns in history, lowered energy costs, reduced air pollution and added 16 million new jobs during the Obama Administration. In fact, since 1970, air pollution has dropped by nearly 75 percent, while the U.S. gross domestic product grew over two hundred percent. Instead of building on Obama’s forward-looking environmental standards, this Administration has taken pride in tearing the protections apart.
This Administration’s so-called ‘Affordable Clean Energy’ proposal fails to provide industry with the certainty needed to make clean energy investments for the future, while also providing an uncertain future for generations to come. People say that you can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig. And no matter what EPA calls this proposal, by the agency’s own account it doesn’t achieve affordable energy OR clean energy. And it definitely doesn’t address climate change. EPA’s proposal – which more appropriately should be called the Dirty Power Plan – is instead another step by this Administration to dismantle our nation’s environmental protections and protect polluters over the public.
If I were grading the EPA’s proposal to replace the Clean Power Plan, I would have to give it an ‘F.’ A friend of mine, when asked how he’s doing, often times responds, ‘Compared to what?’ Well, when compared against the Clean Power Plan – using EPA’s own numbers-it’s easy to see the Dirty Power Plan’s shortcomings. Let’s start with the Clean Power Plan.
The EPA estimates the Clean Power Plan would create $54 billion per year in public health and climate benefits. Compare that to the Dirty Power Plan. EPA’s own analysis shows the Clean Power Plan replacement will increase smog, soot, mercury and carbon pollution.
Now let’s go back to the Clean Power Plan. The EPA estimates the Clean Power Plan would prevent 3,600 premature deaths each year through reduced exposure to particle pollution and ozone. Compare that to the Dirty Power Plan. EPA estimates that up to 1,400 lives will be lost each year if this proposal goes final. Let me repeat, 1,400 lives lost annually.
That’s enough for me to say no thank you and give the Dirty Power Plan a failing grade. But there is more. The Clean Power Plan would reduce household energy prices by $85 a year through energy efficiency investment. The Clean Power Plan also provides long-term certainty for U.S. businesses, helping American companies make smart investments at home and compete in the global clean energy market. The Dirty Power Plan does not help consumers save money on energy costs, does not provide businesses with certainty and, instead, will likely cede clean energy jobs to places like China.
So to recap–when you compare the Dirty Power Plan to the Clean Power Plan, it fails at:· Providing cleaner air; · Saving lives; · Job creation; · Energy savings; and · A safer climate.
That’s why in my class, the Dirty Power Plan gets a failing grade.
But let’s be honest, EPA’s Dirty Power Plan proposal isn’t a climate change replacement, it’s a retreat. It is a retreat from EPA’s most basic responsibilities to ensure breathable air, usher in economic progress and tackle the greatest environmental crisis we face on this planet. The Clean Power Plan – with its long-term certainty and flexible structure – is the federal policy that moves us in the right direction and fulfills EPA’s legal and scientific obligations to address climate pollution.
Repealing the Clean Power Plan and replacing it with a proposal as ill-conceived as the Dirty Power Plan will have serious consequences for the health of the public, our economy and our planet. The American people deserve better than the Dirty Power Plan, plain and simple. My colleagues and I are going to do everything in our power to make sure that happens.