Senate Global Warming Vote a Political Turning Point, Shift in Climate Debate

Bipartisan Drive Starts in the States, Gains New Focus and Momentum in Washington

Remarks by David G Hawkins, Director, NRDC Climate Center
Concerning Today's U.S. Senate Vote on McCain-Lieberman Global Warming Pollution Bill

WASHINGTON (October 30, 2003) -- "The vote marks a turning point in the global warming debate. For the first time, Americans know where their senators stand on this critical issue. The strong, bi-partisan support for the McCain-Lieberman bill shows the growing number of senators who reject a voluntary, do-nothing approach. This vote is a wake-up call for the White House and those big polluting industries that have been fighting to stop progress at all costs.

"The bill combines sensible standards with a proven, market-based system that fosters maximum technological innovation at minimum cost. It is a serious and balanced approach that has strong support from both business and the environmental community. The opposition to the bill is based on pessimism that is alien to the American spirit. We don't cover our eyes in the face of a challenge; the American way is that when we see a problem, we fix it.

"Today's vote brings momentum that is going to get harder and harder for the 'just-say-no' crowd to handle. The vote comes on the heels of strong pressure from state governors in both parties. In California, Governor-elect Schwarzenegger has promised to enforce and defend the landmark law requiring car companies to cut global warming emissions. Governors in 13 states -- from both parties -- are developing global warming action plans. It's time for national action.

"Delay hurts in two ways: as global warming pollution grows, long-lasting threats to people and places will be set in motion; and the more polluting sources we build, the more expensive the solutions become. We need standards now that will get global warming pollution under control to keep this threat from becoming a runaway disaster for people everywhere.

"Those who voted for this bill showed they believe in American know-how. And some who voted against the bill also stated their disagreement with the administration's head in the sand approach. Political leaders in both parties are realizing the real threat that global warming poses to our health, to our economy and to our environment. They also know we have the technology to start fixing the problem today."

The Natural Resources Defense Council is a national, non-profit organization of scientists, lawyers and environmental specialists dedicated to protecting public health and the environment. Founded in 1970, NRDC has more than 550,000 members nationwide, served from offices in New York, Washington, Los Angeles and San Francisco.