Washington, D.C. – Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor regarding the Biden Administration’s plan to return the United States to a position of global leadership by cutting greenhouse gas emissions in half and the work the Senate Democratic Majority is doing to fight climate change and build our economy. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks which can also be viewed here:
This year’s celebration of Earth Day comes with an ambitious new goal from the Biden Administration: the United States should aim to cut its greenhouse gas emissions in half by the end of the decade. It’s a great goal. I fully support it.
Not only is President Biden finally returning the United States to a position of global leadership in the fight against climate change, he is also showing that America is ready to ramp up our climate ambition beyond—beyond—the Paris Agreement.
Now, it will take extraordinary action to meet the markers that President Biden laid down, but he was exactly right to do it. If we need any reminders about what America can achieve when it puts its mind to something, President Kennedy committed to landing on the moon over the course of a single decade. If America could reach that lofty goal in the name of ingenuity, in the name of exploration, surely we can achieve this goal in the name of saving the planet on which we live.
Now, I believe the best way to achieve this ambitious goal is through bold action by this Congress—through legislation—to reduce carbon pollution while creating millions of jobs and economic prosperity in a new clean energy economy. Any legislation without a serious and bold climate component will make it much, much harder to achieve President Biden’s goal. We must work to have a strong, green climate component in the American Jobs Plan.
The Democratic Majority here in the Senate is eager to get to work. One of the very first things I did when Democrats took the majority was to instruct every Committee chair, the new Committee chairs, to hold hearings on the climate crisis to begin preparing for landmark legislation. I repeat, once again, that any infrastructure bill we consider here in the Senate must include green infrastructure, create green jobs, and make significant progress towards the reduction of greenhouse gases.
And luckily, the Senate will have an opportunity to address another serious climate-related issue next week.
The Senate will consider a Congressional Review Act bill before the end of the work period to re-impose critical regulations concerning the release of methane into our atmosphere.
Methane gets less attention than its big bad brother, carbon dioxide, but in truth methane is like carbon dioxide on steroids. Over twenty years, a tonne of methane will warm the atmosphere more than 86 times as much as a tonne of carbon dioxide. But because it breaks down much faster than carbon dioxide, the gains we make in the reduction of methane emissions can reduce global warming even faster. Many of the things we need to do to reduce methane emissions are fairly cheap and cost effective, like plugging leaks in fossil fuel infrastructure. So this makes commonsense, especially when our globe is at risk.
And the Obama Administration had instituted these commonsense rules of the road to encourage that sort of activity, it was widely supported even by industry. The Trump Administration, so typically and so unfortunately, reversed those rules in an act of pure idiocy. The Senate Democratic majority will soon put a bill on the floor to revert back to the original policy, which should never have been tampered with in the first place.
Reducing methane emissions will only be the first of many actions this Senate will take to combat climate change.