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March 22, 2007


Gore Challenges Congress

Former vice president proposes radical remedies on climate change

Bette Hileman

On March 21, in dramatic five-hour testimony before Congress, former vice president Al Gore said that climate change is a "planetary emergency" and proposed some tough remedies that are more far-reaching than any Congress is considering.

In testimony before two House subcommittees and a Senate panel, Gore said: "The planet has a fever. If your baby has a fever, you go to a doctor. You don't say, 'I read a science fiction novel that says it is not a problem.' You take action."

Largely, the lawmakers at the hearings seemed to agree at least with the scientific principles of global warming that Gore outlined. Even former House speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) said he accepted the scientific consensus. However, Rep. Joe L. Barton (R-Texas) and Sen. James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.), both longtime skeptics of human-influenced climate change, were sharply critical. Inhofe considers climate change "the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people."

Gore, who represented Tennessee in the House and Senate for 16 years, outlined a number of strong measures he believes are needed to combat climate change. These include the following:

a moratorium on the construction of new coal-fired power plants that cannot be fitted to capture and sequester CO2 emissions;

a ban on incandescent light bulbs by a certain date;

a tax on fossil fuels that would be offset by tax reductions on payroll and production;

a mortgage program that would underwrite energy-efficient technologies for homes;

a cap-and-trade system for buying and selling CO2 pollution allowances;

an increase in the corporate average fuel economy standard for vehicles as a part of a comprehensive package of climate-change legislation;

a law that allows individuals and small business to sell solar and wind energy to power companies at a regulated rate; and

an all-out effort to create and ratify a new climate-change treaty that begins to take effect in 2010 and includes India and China.

The former vice president recognized that his remedies are radical but argued that they are necessary. He exhorted Congress to rise above politics and take aggressive action.

Chemical & Engineering News
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