Senate Casts Historic Vote on McCain-Lieberman Global Warming Bill

Despite narrow loss, growing support for action seen as encouraging

October 30, 2003

WASHINGTON- Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Joe Lieberman (D-CT) said today that they were encouraged by the strong Senate support for their legislation to curb global warming. The bipartisan Climate Stewardship Act of 2003, which was defeated this morning by a narrow margin of 43-55, represented the first time the Senate has addressed the threat of global warming since 1998. “We’ve lost a big battle today, but we'll win over time because climate change is real. And we will overcome the influence of the special interests over time. You can only win by marshaling public opinion,” McCain said. “Today we scored an important moral victory for protecting our environment and combating global warming.” Lieberman said. “President Bush has denied, delayed and derailed any action on global warming. But today’s vote shows that the political climate is changing on climate change, and the Congress and the American people are warming up to action on global warming. Global warming is now - and must remain - on the front burner of the national environmental agenda.” According to a United Nations study, every ton of greenhouse gas emitted into the atmosphere costs each American up to $160 - and we the U.S. is currently emitting billions of tons each year. Property lost to rising sea levels, cropland lost to draught, and revenues lost to dwindling fishing stocks caused by global warming also represent real costs - not to mention the immeasurable damage to Americans’ health and quality of living. According to a recent Zogby poll, 75% of 1,200 citizens polled supported requiring major industries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, with more than 70% support in each region of the nation. The McCain-Lieberman legislation, crafted in close consultation with industry leaders and supported by the environmental community, is modeled after the successful acid rain trading program of the 1990 Clean Air Act. It would require a reduction in carbon dioxide emission levels to 2000 levels by the year 2010 by capping the overall greenhouse gas emissions from the electricity generation, transportation, industrial, and commercial economic sectors, and creating a market for individual companies to trade pollution credits. A recent MIT study estimated that McCain-Lieberman would cost approximately $20 per household, and analysts predict that the impact on U.S. GNP would be no more than .01%. A second study by the Tellus Institute predicted that McCain-Lieberman would save Americans $48 billion in net savings by 2020 due to reduced energy demand. The legislation has the support of bipartisan group of 155 mayors across the country, the National Farmers Union, 23 senior climate economists, and the ski industry, the leading insurance underwriter in North America, and an industry coalition that includes corporations such as Maytag and American Gas Association have all expressed their support for the bill. “We must take action, and act appropriately. Many have hidden for too long behind what we do not know or the uncertainties around climate change. Their shield is shrinking. The time has come for us to accept what is known and start to solve this highly complex problem. As many of the top scientists throughout the world have stated, the sooner we start to reduce these emissions, the better off we will be in the future,” McCain said. “Global warming constitutes one of the great challenges of our time, threatening our environment, our economy and our public health,” Lieberman said. “President Bush has failed to provide leadership in meeting this growing threat, denying it exists and delaying any meaningful action. Senator McCain and I seek to fill this leadership void and confront global warming in a systematic and serious way by harnessing market forces and opening new economic opportunities.” Co-sponsors of the legislation include Senators Daniel Akaka (D-HI), Thomas Carper (D-DE), Lincoln Chafee (R-RI), Richard Durbin (D-IL), John Edwards (D-NC), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Patty Murray (D-WA) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME). ###