Thank you all for coming today to talk about this important issue. I am very pleased that author Bill McKibben, Paul Burns with VPIRG, and Steve Wright with the Vermont Chapter of the National Wildlife Federation are able to join me today to talk about how we can address the crisis of global warming.
For years, the Bush Administration has turned a deaf ear as the scientific community warned us of the problem of global warming and the disastrous impact it will have on our planet. Sadly, many of these predictions are now becoming a reality. Eight of the past eleven years are the warmest on record globally and experts at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have just logged 2006 as the hottest year on record for the U.S. In addition, the National Center for Atmospheric Research suggests that the majority of the ice caps of the Arctic Ocean will melt by the summer of 2040decades earlier than previously expected. In fact, the situation has become so dramatic that the Department of the Interior recently suggested listing polar bears on the endangered species list because their habitat is quite literally disappearing. All of this is due to global warming caused by the carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses that are released into our atmosphere when we burn fossil fuels.
The impact of global warming will not simply felt in the polar ice caps of the Artic Ocean. This winter in Vermont we have seen the significant impact of unseasonably warm temperatures can have on our winter sports-dependent tourist economies. And it doesn't stop there. Some forest species, such as the sugar maple, are projected to disappear entirely from the U.S. over the next century if nothing is done to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This would threaten the traditions and livelihood of the more than 2,000 Vermont maple producers and roughly a third of the U.S. supply of maple syrup.
The good news is that we know how to stop continued global warmingwe simply need the political will to make it happen. The time is now for bold action that will move our country away from fossil fuels such as coal, gas, and oil and towards efficient, sustainable energy sources like wind, solar, bio-mass and hydrogen. That is why I am introducing the Global Warming Pollution Reduction Act, authored and initially offered last year by Senator Jeffords, in the 109th Congress. This forward-thinking legislation provides the most comprehensive, most progressive solution to reduce greenhouse gasses across the nation and I am very pleased to be able to follow in Senator Jeffords' footsteps. I am also honored that Senator Leahy has joined me in putting this proposal forward.
The act calls for an 80% reduction - compared to 1990 levels - in global warming pollutants by 2050 by enacting a combination of mandatory reduction targets for pollutants and incentives that will help develop clean alternative energies. The concept is simple. By enacting these guidelines, we can usher in a new era of non-polluting, renewable energy sources. And, what makes this proposal even more exciting is its potential to reshape our economy and make the United States a leader in clean and efficient energy technologiescreating millions of good paying jobs in the process.
Fortunately, the rubber stamp Congress that has allowed this Administration to ignore the problems of global warming has come to an end. Senator James Inhofe, who despite scientific evidence to the contrary has called global warming the "greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people," has been replaced as chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee by Senator Barbara Boxer. I am proud to be introducing this important legislation with Senator Boxer and I am looking forward to working with her on the EPW committee to enact real solutions to stop global warming.
As a country that represents only 6% of the world's population but produces 25% of its greenhouse gas emissions, we have a moral obligation to lead the way toward reducing these emissions. For your sake and the sake of your children and grandchildren, we must meet that obligation. This legislation will put us on the right path to do so.