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Statements and Speeches

WASHINGTON – Today, Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety attended the Environment & Public Works Committee hearing on "Review of the President’s Climate Action Plan."

A copy of Sen. Carper's opening statement, as prepared for delivery, follows:

“For years, I have been working with my colleagues in Congress, this Administration, and stakeholder groups to try to tackle one of the biggest challenges of our generation – climate change.

I believe that climate change exists and we are living on borrowed time. The longer we wait to address this issue, the more damaging and expensive it becomes.   

“Before the recent recession, we had members from both parties – including myself - put forth legislative solutions that would grow our economy and provide for a safer climate.  This was a time when our climate change debates focused on how we could grow our economy AND clean our environment. 

“This was not a novel idea. In the 1970s and 1990s, Republican presidents and a majority of members on both sides of the aisle supported the Clean Air Act and Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990.  These clean air protections protected our health, but also allowed our economy to grow exponentially. Unfortunately, in recent years we have seen a shift in the debate and we have been unable to find common ground on climate legislation. 

“Today, our climate change debates are focused on the science – instead of the solutions.  Our debates focus on backsliding current clean air laws instead of improving them.  Essentially, we are back to debating whether we can have a strong economy OR a clean environment.  History has shown this is a false choice.

“As Congress fights over what to do, our communities are feeling the first taste of the harmful effects of climate change through record droughts and storms. Coastal communities, like those in Delaware, are especially vulnerable as the oceans slowly rise and more extreme storms like Superstorm Sandy hit our coasts.

“These climate impacts are costing our country – not just in lives impacted - but in true economic costs.

“In fact, for the first time in its history, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) last year listed climate change as one of the biggest fiscal risks facing our country in their annual high risk report. The Federal Emergency Management Agency alone obligated over $80 billion in federal assistance for disasters declared during fiscal years 2004 through 2011.  Despite the warnings and the reality, Congress remains gridlocked over this issue. Our impacted communities, our children, and the rest of the world wait for our leadership.  The world can no longer wait.

“That’s why I welcome the President’s comprehensive climate action plan.  It is a huge step and I look forward to hearing today what progress we have made to date and what work remains. At the end of the day, I still believe the best path forward to combat climate change is through legislation. I hope in the near future members of both parties, as well as leaders in the private sector and other stakeholders, will decide to come together on common-sense environmental protections that are good for our climate, our health and our economy.”