(Senate - June 25, 2013)

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[Pages S5144-S5145]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []

                             CLIMATE CHANGE

  Mr. LEAHY. Mr. President, I agree with the President that climate 
change represents one of the greatest challenges of our time, but it is 
also a challenge uniquely suited to our strengths as a country. Our 
scientists, researchers, universities and entrepreneurs stand ready to 
design and build new, less polluting energy sources. Vermont's and our 
country's farmers and forestland owners stand ready to grow renewable 
fuels. American businesses will innovate and develop new energy 
technologies that will reduce pollution and grow our economy with jobs 
that cannot be shipped overseas. Our workforce stands ready to 
modernize our power plants and retrofit our buildings to meet 21st 
century efficiency standards.
  I stand ready to support the President, and Vermonters want to do our 
part. The important goals the President has laid out today will create 
jobs, save lives and protect and preserve our treasured natural 
resources for future generations.
  No single step can accomplish the goals that President Obama has 
presented today, but we must begin now, and take these critical first 
steps together. We owe it to our children and grandchildren to address 
these threats and be responsible stewards of the earth. Just as any 
Vermonter who has hiked the 200 miles of Vermont's beautiful Long Trail 
can tell you, the journey begins with a commitment to reach a goal, and 
a first step in that direction.
  Climate change is not a far-off or remote challenge. The impacts are 
overtaking us today around the globe and

[[Page S5145]]

in Vermont. In the past 2 years, hurricanes Irene and Sandy devastated 
the Northeast, while huge swaths from Texas to the Midwest have been 
gripped in a historic drought, and tornadoes have raked the heartland.
  We can no longer willfully ignore these impacts or continue to deny 
the facts: The science is clear and definitive that human-induced 
climate change is happening and it is happening rapidly. We are 
obligated to reduce carbon emissions, and efforts to do so have the 
support of the American people.
  Not only is the science clear, but the human and economic costs of 
climate change are hitting home. The severe weather events of just the 
past 2 years have caused damages in the United States in excess of $188 
billion and left more than 1100 people dead. If we do not act now then 
the toll is sure to mount, with ever more destructive and deadly 
weather pounding our coasts, parching our Nation's agricultural center, 
and rising sea levels threatening our coastal communities. If we do not 
act now, the devastating impacts of climate change will only get worse.
  But climate change is not just about weather disasters. For instance, 
we also have seen asthma rates double in the past 30 years, and our 
children and grandchildren will only suffer more asthma attacks as air 
pollution worsens. We already reduced smog and acid rain and have set 
limits for mercury, lead, and arsenic. It is time to set a limit on 
carbon pollution that causes climate change and assaults the public 
  The President's proposal will allow the United States to take further 
important steps toward the environmental quality and good jobs that 
will come with a cleaner and safer energy future. We can act now so 
that future generations--our children and grandchildren--will know that 
we took the steps that helped make their world safer and cleaner.