Statements and Speeches

WASHINGTON – Today, the Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety held a hearing on “Climate Change: The Need to Act Now”

A copy of Sen. Carper’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, follows:

“Thank you Chairman Whitehouse for having this important hearing today, and thank you to our distinguished panel of witnesses for coming before our committee. I have always believed that we can protect our environment and grow our economy at the same time.  The Clean Air Act is a shining example of how this is true. 

“Some of you may not remember the choking smog and soot that was in the air before this monumental law passed in 1970. At the end of 1969, I was stationed at Moffett Field Naval Air Station.  Just up the road that same year, San Francisco had 65 bad air quality days.  So for 65 days – or about nine weeks – the city had dirty, unhealthy air that went beyond health standards. Fortunately in 1970, Republican President Richard Nixon and a Democratic Congress worked together to protect our nation’s health from our deadly air pollution. The final version of the 1970 Clean Air Act passed both the House and Senate – unanimously.  But there was more to be done. 

“A little over 20 years ago, Congress wasn’t debating how to weaken or delay our clean air laws. We were considering legislation -- bipartisan legislation -- that would improve our clean air laws and make them stronger.  There were 89 senators who voted to approve the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 to better protect public health, which a Republican president, George H.W. Bush, signed into law.   And I believe we’re all better for it. 

“Since President Nixon signed the Clean Air Act, we’ve seen $30 in returned benefits in reduced health care costs, better workplace productivity and saved lives for every $1 spent. In other words, fewer people are getting sick and missing work because of the Clean Air Act.  And since President George H.W. Bush signed the bipartisan Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990, electricity rates have stayed constant and our economy has grown by 60 percent.

“Compared to 1969, the state of our nation’s air is much cleaner and safer today, but we can and must do better. We know more than we did 40 and even 20 years ago about how pollution impairs health; how it travels; and how it can be cost-effectively cleaned up.  We also know so much more about carbon pollution and the damages it is doing to our environment and impacting our health.

“For those living in states already seeing the impacts of climate change – like Delaware – we can no longer afford to wait for action. Just as we acted to reduce sulfur dioxide and other air pollutants –we must act today on carbon pollution. Unfortunately in Congress, we seem to be debating about the merits of the public health science, rather than how we can make reductions at lower cost.  I hope during today’s discussion we can remind folks that clean air is not a partisan issue – it is a public health issue.”