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Thursday, December 20, 2007

E mail from Senator Charles E. Schumer

contact me at kevsclimatecolumn@btinternet.com


Dear Mr. Lister:

Thank you for your letter regarding actions that Congress should be taking to curtail global climate change.

I share your concern for the health of our environment, especially the fragile balance of ecosystems that may be destroyed by the climatic changes that we are now experiencing. As Senator, I have pushed legislation that would address some of the causes of climate change, in particular by trying to reduce carbon emissions.

The recent passage in the Senate of H.R. 6, the Clean Energy Act of 2007, provided an important first step toward improving the ways our nation uses energy. This bill includes substantial increases in fuel economy standards for cars, including a 35mpg standard by 2020 and closing the SUV and flex-fuel-vehicle loopholes. The Senate's success in this area will reduce our consumption of foreign oil by 10.7 gallons annually by 2020. I believe that H.R. 6 makes important steps towards curbing climate change.

For the first time in decades, the Senate has produced a bill that does not give tax breaks to big oil, but instead gives incentives to companies to use renewable fuel sources, makes significant improvements in car's fuel economy, and requires improved energy efficiency in government actions. However, there is still more to be done.

I introduced four amendments to the energy bill which would improve energy efficiency in practical, cost-effective ways. The first would require power utilities to gradually reduce their fuel consumption by improving their efficiency to reach a final target of 10% less fuel use by 2020. The second amendment required states to make their building codes 30% more efficient. The third and fourth amendments would improve energy efficiency in appliances like washing machines, commercial boilers, and air conditioners. All told, these four amendments would have saved the same energy as would taking more than 150 million cars off the road. Unfortunately, none of these amendments were included in the final bill, but I will continue to push for these, and other, energy efficiency ideas.I also support several other bills aimed at helping to slow this crisis.

I am a co-sponsor of S. 590, Securing America's Energy Independence Act of 2007, which extends and improves tax credits for individuals and companies to invest in solar technology. I also co-sponsored the Clean Air Planning Act, S. 1177, a multi-pollutant bill that will require fossil-fuel-fired power plants to cut their emissions of four dangerous compounds, including carbon dioxide. This bill will halt the increase in CO2 emissions in 2012 and will implement a 57% cut from today's levels by 2050.

I was also an original co-sponsor of S. 339, the DRIVE Act, which will reduce our oil use through a range of actions from improving fuel economies to encouraging development along existing transit corridors, rather than into new areas. It was passed by the Senate as part H.R. 6.

Climate change matters to all of us and we need smart, pragmatic policies now if we are to address this crisis. We cannot afford to delay action in the hope that a "silver bullet" will save us: there will be no perfect new technology to produce infinite energy, no special sponge to take carbon out of the air, no global air-conditioning system. It takes lots of smart changes in the ways that we make and use energy to fix this problem, and we need to approach this complex problem from every angle possible.

Thank you for taking the time to contact me on this important topic. I always appreciate constituents input and hope that you will continue to share your thoughts with me in the future.

Sincerely,
Charles E. SchumerUnited States Senator
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