Jeffords introduces global warming legislation

07/20/06 12:00AM By Bob Kinzel
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(Host) Senator Jim Jeffords introduced legislation today that would significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions over the next 40 years.

Jeffords says the threat of global warming is real and needs to be addressed with bold action from Congress.

VPR's Bob Kinzel reports:

(Kinzel) Jeffords says this is the most important bill that he's introduced during his more than 30 years in Congress.

Jeffords, who's retiring this year, says he first learned about global warming in the mid 1970s when his seat mate in the U.S. House was Tennessee Rep. Al Gore.

The bill calls for an annual 2% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions for the next 40 years. The goal is to achieve levels that are 80% below those recorded in 1990.

The plan imposes stricter emission standards for all power plants built after 2015 and it gives existing plants until 2030 to meet the new rules.

The proposal also cuts emissions from cars and trucks and it supports the implementation of efficiency programs so that demand for electricity can be reduced by 20%.

Jeffords says global warming is a serious issue that can no longer be ignored.

(Jeffords) "The evidence is overwhelming and it's been there a long time and it's finally we recognize the real destruction that can occur and it has to get done. Something has to get done."

(Kinzel) Jeffords has a message for people who are skeptical about the threat of global warming.

(Jeffords) "I say that you've got to wake up. You've got to get interested. You've got to find out what the facts are. Global warming is there and that means we could have really different changes in our whole world that would be very detrimental to us if we don't do something."

(Kinzel) Opponents of global warming initiatives argue that the national economy will be adversely affected if the recommendations are implemented.

Jeffords says there will be serious problems if no action is taken.

(Jeffords) "The problem is going to be tremendous damage to our economy and our lifestyle and everything else if we don't rectify it. We have to recognize that it's there and we just can't ignore it. We have to do something now to make sure that we alter the course."

The Vermont Public Interest Research Group strongly supports the Jeffords bill. James Moore is VPIRG's air quality director:

(Moore) "Global warming is an issue that spans really our entire culture. And we need to address global warming pollution from the transportation sector. We need to address global warming pollution from the electricity sector. And here in Vermont our second largest contribution to global warming comes from the oil and gas we burn to heat our homes and businesses. We need to address all of those, shifting away from oil and coal and fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to meet our needs in the future."

Jeffords says it's unlikely that Congress will act on his bill this year but he says it's critical to start the debate so that the proposal can be passed by the next session of Congress.

For Vermont Public Radio I'm Bob Kinzel in Montpelier
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