Gore gives Congress global warming talk (Rutland Herald)

WASHINGTON Former Vice President Al Gore took his global warming campaign to Congress Wednesday, declaring that the problem is "by far the most serious" the country has ever faced and calling for an immediate freeze on emissions of carbon dioxide.He also recommended a tax on carbon emissions and a hike in federal automobile mileage standards.And he said no new coal-powered electrical plants should be licensed unless they can be designed to be compatible with the capture and storage of carbon dioxide.Making separate appearances before House and Senate committees, Gore seemed buoyed by an increasingly enthusiastic public response stirred by his one-man campaign for climate change action. He promised to "do my part" to build public support for global warming legislation."This thing is building," he said, "and it's building in both parties."He presented copies of what he said were about 516,000 e-mail petitions he received in "a few days" after he asked for expressions of public support for his testimony."We're getting 100 new contacts per second in the last couple of days," he said.Testifying before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Gore locked horns with Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., Congress' most outspoken skeptic about global warming.Inhofe declared that many scientists had accused Gore of overstating the dangers of climate change in his writings and in the Oscar-winning documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth."He asked if Gore would sign a personal pledge to live a "carbon-neutral" life, meaning that he would cause no more carbon dioxide to be released into air through the electricity he uses, his travel and other activities than he removes.When Gore attempted to respond to the challenge, Inhofe insisted that the answer to that question and others be only yes or no, complaining that he was allotted only 10 minutes for questions and that the former vice president is sometimes verbose and his answers would use up the time.Gore did not take the pledge but said his family uses "green" electricity at home, paying extra under a law that requires the power company to purchase a corresponding amount of electricity from renewable sources, such as wind.In response to a question from Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., Gore said he did not believe nuclear power, which does not emit carbon dioxide, would provide a significant solution to the problem because the plants are so expensive to build."I'm not opposed to nuclear power," he said, "but the problem is a financial one. And they only come in one size, extra large."Gore said Wednesday he supports legislation by Sens. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and Bernard Sanders, I-Vt,. to curb global warming, Sanders said in a news release."I support the Sanders-Boxer bill. It's a good start," Gore said at the Environment and Public Works Committee hearing at which he warned of "a crisis that threatens the survival of our civilization and the habitability of the Earth."Sanders and Boxer, the panel chairwoman, are the chief sponsors of the Global Warming Pollution Reduction Act. The legislation calls for a reduction of U.S. global warming emissions to 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., is a cosponsor.Gore also told Sanders that developing alternative energy sources "would strengthen the economy...and create jobs" in the United States, Sanders said.Gore exchanged jokes and personal recollections with members of the Senate committee and, earlier, the two House committees that met in joint session for his testimony: the Energy and Commerce Committee and the Science and Technology Committee.When former House Speaker Dennis Hastert said Gore was a "personality and a movie star," the former vice president responded, "Rin-Tin-Tin's a movie star. I just have a slide show."And when Boxer, chair of the Senate committee, thanked Gore for his appearance and called him "a role model for us all," Gore responded, in a clear reference to his film's Academy Award: You don't give out any kind of statue or anything do you? "He warned that if nothing is done to stop the build-up of greenhouse gases, "our children and grandchildren "will hold the current generation responsible."They'll either ask, 'What in God's name were they thinking about? What was wrong with them?''' Gore said, "Or they will look back and say, 'How did they find the uncommon moral courage to rise above politics and redeem the promise of American democracy.' "Returning several times to his contention that many Republican voters are embracing climate change as a politically important issue, Gore said, it "shouldn't be seen as a partisan issue or even a political issue it's a moral issue."