On Earth Day, Menendez Says US Must Be A World Leader For The Environment

On Earth Day, Menendez Says US Must Be A World Leader For The Environment

Washington - U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee who has been a leader in the Senate on energy efficiency domestically and on international efforts to combat climate change, released the following statement today, on Earth Day:

"On this Earth Day, as on every day, it is important to think about the world that we will leave to our kin. Our children deserve a planet where the air is clean, where the oceans don't rise and flood their houses, where droughts don't parch their soil and starve them of food, and where polar bears have not gone extinct. To make sure that our fragile world is still intact when we hand it on to future generations, it will take leadership from the United States that has been absent. It will take a dramatic reduction in our use of fossil fuels and the quantities of greenhouse gases they spew into the atmosphere. Few things are more important to the health of our planet or our economic security than freeing ourselves from fossil fuels. Our addiction to oil means that this country is walking a liquid tightrope over an economic canyon.

"The type of leadership it will take to solve our planetary emergency and bring about energy independence can be seen every day in neighborhoods, towns and cities across this country. To encourage and support those efforts, I worked to pass legislation that gives grants to cities for energy efficiency programs. But the good work on the local level must be matched by a federal government that leads with bold proposals to save our planet, not just lip service. It will take big leaps, like embracing mandatory emissions cuts domestically and using diplomacy to craft a strong international climate change pact in the next few years. I am focused on steering our nation in that direction through my work as Chairman of the Senate subcommittee that deals with international environmental protection, and I hope the next administration will recognize the need for American leadership and make it a national priority."

To mark Earth Day, Senator Menendez, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee dealing with international environmental protection, will hold a hearing on international efforts to combat deforestation and climate change. Deforestation and the degradation of tropical rainforests is responsible for 20 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. The hearing is designed to explore the effects of deforestation, to review current international negotiations on climate change, and to discuss what policy frameworks will be needed to effectively and efficiently lower the rate of deforestation.

Senator Menendez's environmental work in the Senate:

• Energy

• As a member of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Senator Menendez helped pass, H.R. 6, the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. The Senator included a $2 billion block grant program in the bill which will provide cities the resources they need to lower energy usage and increase energy efficiency.

• The Energy Bill Senator Menendez helped pass will also reduce our nation's dependency on foreign oil by investing in clean, renewable, and alternative energy resources, promoting new emerging energy technologies, and developing greater efficiency. This law raised the fuel economy standards for cars and trucks for the first time in 30 years.

• Global Climate Change

• Senator Menendez presided over a hearing after the Bali Climate Change Conference and what is next on the path to a post 2012 Climate change treaty and is chairing a hearing tomorrow on deforestation and climate change.

• Senator Menendez is a cosponsor of S.309, Senator Sanders' Global Warming Pollution Reduction Act, which is the strongest global warming legislation bill introduced to date. The bill would set out a roadmap of targets, requirements, and incentives to reduce U.S. carbon emissions and help stabilize global atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases, and requires that the U.S. reduce its emissions by 2050 to a level that is 80 percent below 1990 levels.

• Anti-Drilling work: Senator Menendez recognizes that we cannot drill our way to energy independence, and he will not sacrifice our environment or New Jersey's beaches to those who think we can.

• Senator Menendez introduced S.391, the Clean Ocean and Safe Tourism Anti-Drilling Act, on January 27, 2007. This bill would amend the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act to permanently ban oil and gas drilling off the mid-Atlantic and North Atlantic Coasts in an effort to protect New Jersey's environment as well as its gaming, tourism and hospitality industries.

• Senator Menendez led the effort to block Senator Warner's Amendment 1566, which would have allowed Virginia to petition to conduct natural gas exploration and drilling in the coastal zone of the State. His threatened filibuster forced the Senate to get the 60 votes necessary for cloture. The final vote was 43 - 44 to defeat Senator Warner's Amendment.

• Senator Menendez led the effort to defeat an amendment to the budget resolution offered by Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) that would have paved the way for drilling off the coast of Virginia, which includes areas less than 100 miles from the Jersey Shore - close enough for spills to affect New Jersey beaches. The final vote was defeated by a vote of 47-51.