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Last Wednesday we took a major step forward in the fight against global warming.  Senator John Kerry (D-MA) and I introduced the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act (S. 1733) which addresses major challenges of our generation:

·         Protecting our children and the earth from dangerous pollution;

·         Putting America back in control of our energy future; and

·         Creating the policies that will lead to millions of new jobs.

It was so exciting to look out at the crowd that day on the lawn of the U.S. Capitol, and to see such a broad coalition of supporters (click here to read reaction to our bill), including  environmental organizations, wildlife protectors, religious leaders, business leaders, workers, state and local officials, national security leaders, and veterans (click here to watch video of last week’s event).  

I want to take this opportunity to tell you a little bit more about the bill, and to talk about what this will mean for our nation’s short term recovery and long term prosperity.  

To start, we built on the successful House effort.  One key difference is that our bill has stronger targets in the short term, the goal is a 20% cut in global warming pollution by 2020 and an 83% reduction by 2050.   Our bill also maintains the protections of the Clean Air Act.

The Kerry-Boxer bill also establishes a Pollution Reduction and Investment system that is designed to steadily reduce carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions in a cost-effective manner.   The largest 7500 carbon polluters in the country must obtain allowances.  These facilities account for nearly three-quarters of U.S. carbon pollution.

The Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act also includes strong principles for market transparency and oversight, and a soft "carbon collar" to limit speculation and maintain the environmental integrity of the pollution cap.

Our bill does not add one penny to the deficit.

To combat some of the most devastating impacts of global warming, our bill includes provisions to address wildfire prevention, flood control, and water infrastructure.  It makes investments in coastal communities and wildlife protection, and gives a much stronger role to our mayors and local governments in improving energy efficiency.

It also includes a number of other steps that will drive innovation, create jobs and smooth the transition to a clean energy economy by making investments in new transmission infrastructure, and green economic development.  It includes provisions to transition to cleaner transportation including investments in transit, and incentives for efficient hybrid and electric cars (click here to access the text of the bill, and summaries).

One of the biggest benefits of this legislation is the clean energy jobs it will create.  We know clean energy is the ticket to strong, stable economic growth.  The latest analysis from UC Berkeley estimates that comprehensive clean energy and global warming legislation will drive improvements in energy efficiency and create up to 1.9 million jobs in America.

A price on carbon will be the signal the private sector needs to invest billions of venture capital into clean energy technologies.  That is what leading venture capitalists tell us.  It is time to stop spending one billion dollars a day on foreign oil.

The global clean energy market is estimated to reach two and a half times the size of the global personal computer market by the year 2020.

If we seize this opportunity now, we will be a leader in the world as we protect the earth and all who dwell here from a future that the world's most respected scientists agree is threatened if we do not act.

We are continuing to work internally on this legislation with our colleagues and report it out of the Environment and Public Works Committee, which I chair, as soon as we can.  It will then go to the Senate floor where we will work with Majority Leader Reid and five other committee chairs to move this critical issue forward.

I know many of you share my conviction that global warming is the challenge of our generation.  We can rise to this challenge and it will take all of us working together.  I look forward to your comments today.

UPDATE

Thanks for the comments everyone. These times are so challenging and we must step up. It's our responsibility even though it's certainly not easy. Your involvement is essential!!  Best, Barbara Boxer

Originally posted to Barbara Boxer on Wed Oct 07, 2009 at 12:14 PM PDT.

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