Press Releases

Carper Votes For McCain-Lieberman Climate Change Legislation

Vote Proves There Is Growing Support in Senate To Combat Global Warming

Oct 30 2003

WASHINGTON - Calling it a "sensible first step" toward addressing the problem of global warming, Senator Carper today voted for legislation, offered by Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., that would curb emissions of so-called greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide. Although the legislation failed 43-55, Carper said the vote signifies that there is support in the Senate to address the real problem of global warming. "This is the first time the Senate has taken a vote on such a comprehensive climate change bill. That we got more than 40 votes in the Senate, despite strong opposition from the Bush administration and some business groups, shows there is growing support for combating global warming," said Senator Carper. "We still have some work to do to persuade our colleagues as to the right approach, but I'm hopeful that over time, we will develop a strategy to combat one of the most important environmental challenges of our time." The McCain-Lieberman bill would seek to return, over the next decade, greenhouse gas emissions to the levels of the year 2000. Carper, who is the senior Democrat on a Senate committee that oversees clean air and global warming issues, has introduced legislation to reduce carbon dioxide emissions to levels similar to those proposed in the McCain-Lieberman bill. Carper's bill, known as the Clean Air Planning Act, would regulate four major air pollutants -- mercury, nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide and carbon dioxide. However, whereas the McCain-Lieberman bill's controls on carbon dioxide are economy-wide, CAPA would impose carbon dioxide reductions only on the electricity sector, making it less burdensome to the overall economy. The legislation also sets up a market-based trading system, which would allow utilities to buy and sell emissions credits from each other and from other sectors of the economy in an effort to give utilities more flexibility to comply with new pollution controls. CAPA has won the support of a bipartisan group of senators, including Sens. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., Lincoln Chafee, R-R.I., and Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn. President Bush has pushed for a competing bill, known as "Clear Skies," which would not address carbon dioxide and would impose weaker restrictions on the other three air pollutants. Studies by the Environmental Protection Agency have said CAPA would produce nearly $60 billion more in public health benefits and prevent nearly 6,000 more premature deaths than the White House plan in 2020 - but it would only cost 2 percent more to implement. A recent study by the Energy Department's Energy Information Administration also said that under CAPA, coal usage would continue to increase and electricity prices would decline over the next 25 years. Carper said that just because the Senate voted down the McCain-Lieberman proposal doesn't mean that there isn't support in the Senate to pass a multi-pollutant clean air bill that seeks to improve human health and do something more limited about global warming. "We can take care of a host of environmental and health problems by passing a comprehensive clean air bill, like CAPA," said Carper. Carper also said the vote today on McCain-Lieberman shows that there is enough support in the Senate for carbon dioxide controls and to sustain a filibuster against the "Clear Skies" proposal, and he urged Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman James Inhofe, R-Okla., to move clean air legislation through his panel and the Senate as soon as possible. "The only way we're going to enact solid clean air legislation this session of Congress is to follow the committee process and let the Senate work its will," said Carper. "Bottling up clean air legislation because you're afraid of the end result won't help the millions of people who suffer from a host of health problems caused by pollution, nor the global challenges we're facing as a result of climate change." On the Senate floor, Carper also praised Delaware-based DuPont, which has sought to reduce its own emissions of greenhouse gases similar to what is proposed in the McCain-Lieberman legislation. DuPont kept its energy use flat between 1990 and 2000 while simultaneously increasing production by 35 percent. "If a company such as DuPont can find a way to meet the requirements of the McCain-Lieberman bill, I believe any company can," Carper said.