While much of the current legislative debate revolves around gun control and the coming federal budget cuts known as the “sequester,” two top Senate progressives already are moving forward on climate change.
Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) on Thursday introduced comprehensive legislation on climate change.
Boxer is chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. Sanders sits on the environment committee and also is a member of the Senate energy committee.
Under the legislation, a fee on carbon pollution emissions would fund historic investments in energy efficiency and sustainable energy technologies such as wind, solar, geothermal and biomass. The proposal also would provide rebates to consumers to offset any efforts by oil, coal or gas companies to raise prices, according to a statement from Boxer and Sanders.
“The leading scientists in the world who study climate change now tell us that their projections in the past were wrong; that, in fact, the crisis facing our planet is much more serious than they had previously believed,” Sanders told a news conference in the Senate environment committee hearing room.
Flanking Sanders and Boxer at the news conference were environmental and consumer leaders including Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org; Mike Brune, executive director of Sierra Club; Tara McGuiness, executive director of the Center for American Progress Action Fund; Tyson Slocum, Public Citizen’s energy director; and Meg Power of the National Community Action Foundation.
“Sens. Sanders and Boxer actually understand the depth of the climate problem we face. We are awfully grateful to them for starting us down the legislative path that could reverse our disastrous course. We hope and trust that they won’t have to be a lone voice,” says McKibben, one day after his arrest at a White House protest on a controversial oil pipeline from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico.
“Climate disruption is one of the most pressing challenges of our time and we must move forward with solutions on all fronts. While all eyes are on President Obama’s pending actions to cut carbon emissions from power plants, halt risky drilling in America’s arctic, and reject the dirty and dangerous Keystone XL pipeline, we need champions in the Senate like Bernie Sanders and Barbara Boxer pushing strong, comprehensive climate solutions that can double down on these critical administrative actions,” adds Brune.
“Pricing carbon is an important tool to address climate change, and this legislation ensures that working families aren’t penalized by dedicating 3/5 of revenues to a per-capita family refund. This will protect families at the same time we seek to protect the climate,” says Slocum, Public Citizen’s energy program director.