Thursday, January 18, 2007

Global Warming Day in MA

Three items crossed my desk today related to global warming. The first was the news that Governor Deval Patrick has re-joined Massachusetts into RGGI, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. Under the agreement, Massachusetts would be given a certain number of carbon dioxide allowances, which the state will then auction off to the highest bidder. Patrick has pledged that the money generated from that would be put toward programs that encouraged energy savings. I'm hopeful that this will help Massachusetts reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, and frankly, I think that fears that it will put us at a competitive disadvantage are overblown. All of New England except tiny Rhode Island has signed the same agreement, as have the governors of New York, New Jersey and Delaware. It is now a cost of doing business in the region and anyone who wants to do business in the entire northeast has to contend with these new rules.

Second, there's an article in the Watertown Tab about Doug Plante, who attended training earlier this year to give Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" slideshow. I know Doug from the Deval Patrick campaign here in Watertown -- he was a fellow volunteer. I'm looking forward to seeing him give the presentation locally.

Lastly, Congressman Marty Meehan (D-Lowell) has sent off a letter to President George W Bush concerning the rumors that the President will include some talk of climate change in his State of the Union address next week. Meehan comes out in support of a federal cap-and-trade system for greenhouse gasses and encourages the President to do likewise.

Read the entire letter inside...

Dear Mr. President,

I am writing following recent media reports announcing your intentions to outline a policy on global warming in your State of the Union Address next week. I believe that climate change is having catastrophic effects on our environment and strongly urge you to develop a policy that adequately addresses this crisis.

I call on you to respect the serious threat that climate change poses to the United States and the World in your State of the Union address, by supporting a federal cap on greenhouse gas emissions. We can not afford to keep any option off the table that could lead to slowing Global Warming.

According to a report in January 17th’s Washington Times, you "will argue that global warming can be better addressed through technology and greater use of renewable energy sources than through caps imposed on businesses and industries." This is a false choice. The United States can continue to invest in innovative new technologies and make greater use of renewable energy sources while also imposing emission standards through a federal cap-and-trade system.

Global Warming is a crisis and the evidence is clear and overwhelming. Last year was the warmest year on record for the continental United States with temperatures over 2 degrees higher than the mean temperature for the 20th century. Your own Interior Department proposed adding polar bears to the list of endangered species because their habitat in the Arctic is literally melting away. More troubling is the growing number of children who are falling victim to the effects of this crisis, whether it is from high asthma rates in urban areas throughout the country, or malaria in Kenya and Tanzania.

While these examples show the devastating effects that climate change is having on our environment and on our well-being, there is still time to act. This time, however, is shrinking; action on this issue must be swift and prompt. Our nation needs a federal policy that aims to reduce carbon emissions, creates incentives for renewable energy, and increases basic research so that our scientists can discover the links between pollution and diseases like autism and breast cancer.

The United States, with only 5% of the world's population, produces roughly onequarter of all global greenhouse gas emissions. This is unacceptable. We must make it a priority to reduce our emissions.

A federal cap-and-trade system has the potential to cut carbon emissions in the United States by 80% by 2050. However, the benefits will go beyond cleaner air and slowed global warming. A federal cap-and-trade program will create new opportunities for businesses and research facilities, specifically those who focus on areas of environment-friendly materials and alternative energy development.

This week, Congress has taken the first step to putting America on a path to energy independence by repealing billions of subsidies given to big oil and investing in renewable energy technologies and improving energy efficiency. I strongly urge you to add to this effort by announcing in your State of the Union Address that you will support a cap on emissions from the country's largest polluters, that you will join with countries from around the world to develop a global agreement on climate change, and that you will increase federal investments in renewable energy and basic research that investigates the links between pollution and life-threatening diseases.

I look forward to continuing to work with you to address this issue which we all agree is having a devastating effect on our environment and our welfare. As the most advanced nation in the world, it is essential that America lead the fight to slow and eventually end global warming.

Marty Meehan
Member of Congress