I rise today in support of H.R. 2454, the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009.
For years, the consensus in the scientific community has been that the release of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere is altering the Earth’s climate in ways that are expensive and deadly. This is one of the principle subjects I have spoken about and worked on for decades—before and since I first ran for office—and it is one of the reasons, I believe that my constituents sent me to Congress.
Today the House of Representatives at last is taking sweeping action to cap greenhouse gas emissions, promote the production of renewable energy, and make our homes, cars, and businesses more energy efficient. This legislation would require that we reduce our carbon emissions by 17 percent from 2005 levels by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050. It would implement a Renewable Electricity Standard that would require electric utilities to provide 20 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2020. It would make historic investments new clean energy technologies and energy efficiency, including energy efficiency and renewable energy, carbon capture and sequestration, electric and other advanced technology vehicles, and research and development. These provisions would help to slow the rate of global warming and preserve our environment for future generations. Further, a recent report from the Center for American Progress estimates that these provisions would help to create 1.7 million new, high skilled clean energy jobs over the next decade.
Opponents of this bill have argued that it would cost American families over $500 a year in additional energy costs. While it is true that there would be increases in the cost of energy, this bill would return almost 50 percent of the proceeds from the cap-and-trade auction to consumers. In my home state of New Jersey, families who currently pay $100 on their monthly energy bill would see their bill increase by less than $3 a month. If you include the savings that would come through the energy efficiency provisions in this legislation American families could save $4,000 by 2030 on their energy bills.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, in New Jersey climate change has caused temperatures to be 4 degrees warmer than they were in 1970. Over the past century precipitation has increased by 5 percent and severe weather incidents have increased by 12-20 percent, and sea level along our coast is increasing .14 inches a year. It is worth devoting some money and effort to slow the devastating climate change is having on our state.
I am pleased that several provisions that I wrote were included in this bill. I worked with Rep. George Miller and Rep. Jerry McNerney authorize the WaterSense program that would help consumers identify water efficient products. Water efficiency saves energy by reducing the amount of energy used to heat, transport, and clean water. The savings are substantial and real. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, if only one out of every 100 American homes retrofitted their homes with water-efficient fixtures, we would save 100 GWh of electricity, enough energy to power more than 9,000 homes for an entire year, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80,000 tons.
Rep. Jared Polis and I wrote a provision that would require the Departments of Energy, Labor and Education to compile an online database for a renewable energy curriculum that would be easily accessible to community colleges, vocational schools and universities looking to create training programs but lacking local or technical expertise. The transformation to a clean energy future will require a trained workforce and our amendment would ensure that these communities, whether in rural Wyoming or urban Pittsburg, have easy access to green jobs training in new energy and new manufacturing sectors so they can prosper in a new energy economy.