Center for Biological Diversity Statement on Senate Climate Bill

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Bill Snape, (202) 536-9351

Center for Biological Diversity Statement on Senate Climate Bill

TUCSON, Ariz. - Capping a
week in which the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee
overwhelmingly passed a weak global warming bill with no Republican support,
Center for Biological Diversity Executive Director Kierán Suckling issued the
following statement:

"It is a sad
day when the lead environmental committee in the Senate passes a bill (S. 1733)
that contains pollution-reduction goals far less than scientists tell us are
necessary to stem global warming and avert catastrophe. It is even more
distressing that this bill contains Clean Air Act exemptions that will eliminate
the Environmental Protection Agency's longstanding duty to reduce greenhouse
pollutants based on scientific standards. This is not a time to cheer. The
fossil-fuel industry has received what it wants and will now seek
more.

There are
three fundamental problems with the Senate bill.

First, by
requiring only a 20-percent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from 2005
levels by 2020, the bill sets a standard far below what scientists have
identified as necessary to stop global warming and ocean acidification. The
standard is also far below what most European nations have agreed to and hope to
win world agreement on in Copenhagen in December.

Emission
scenarios developed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change indicate
that the United States must reduce emissions 45 percent or more below 1990
levels by 2020 in order to stabilize the atmosphere at a safe level of 350 parts
per million or below. The Senate bill contains no bottom-line atmospheric
target. Its emission standards will allow already damaging levels of atmospheric
carbon dioxide to increase to levels
approaching approximately 600 parts per million.

Second, bowing to
pressure from conservative Democrats and Republicans, the bill bans federal
scientists from determining the safe level of greenhouse gas concentrations.
Currently the Clean Air Act requires the Environmental Protection Agency to
convene a scientific plan to determine the "National Ambient Air Quality
Standard" for air pollutants, including carbon dioxide when the agency completes
its endangerment finding. Just such a scientific standard is needed by Congress
and the administration as they craft greenhouse gas legislation and regulations.
How can you determine the necessary level of emission reductions if you don't
first know what the safe level is?

The National
Ambient Air Quality Standard is the one and only provision in
U.S. environmental law that can
provide the scientific standard critically missing from the House and Senate
bills and all regulatory processes. Thus it is unconscionable that the Senate
bill is not only flying blind, but also seeks to eliminate the one-and-only
process that will shed scientific light on emission
targets.

Third, the bill's
offset provisions are so vast and poor that they undermine even its modest
emission-reduction goals. Economists have determined that many industries will
invest in dubious offsets instead of reducing their carbon
emissions.

The
political climate in Washington, D.C., is failing the very real, physical climate of places
like Arizona and Alaska, which have
already changed for the worse. Our elected leaders need to fix the problem, not
apply false band-aids. Millions of people have already signed letters and
petitions and taken action seeking science-based solutions. We call on the
Senate leadership to fix the grave problems in the current bill and present
Americans with a bill that will actually stop global warming. Anything less than
that is unacceptable."

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At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature - to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law, and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters, and climate that species need to survive.

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