Twitter icon
Facebook icon
YouTube icon
RSS icon

Congressman Peter DeFazio

Representing the 4th District of OREGON

Climate Change

The science is clear that global warming is happening and that it is caused by human activity. It is long past time for Congress to get serious about climate change, to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and other fossil fuels, and to create jobs by creating a new energy economy.

Earlier this year scientists from Oregon State University joined with their colleagues from Harvard University and published a study in the journal Science that provides new context to today’s climate and rising temperatures. The report reconstructs a temperature history for the last 11,300 years and concludes that rising temperatures over the last century have been greater than the temperature increases over the previous 100 centuries...combined.

Fighting Climate Change Deniers

Unfortunately, the Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives continues to pursue a policy of "do nothing and know nothing" on climate change. In fact, a significant number of members of the U.S. House of Representatives deny climate change is happening and remain adamant that reducing greenhouse gases (GHGs) is not only unnecessary, but part of a grand conspiracy orchestrated by the federal government. These ideological positions, which do not represent the views of a majority of Americans or climate scientists, have made the current Congress a difficult environment for crafting a smart, 21st-Century American energy policy. 

As a member of the minority, DeFazio will continue to fight further attempts to weaken our nation's most important environmental and public health laws – like the Clean Air Act – and to work with the Obama administration to support responsible and effective climate change policies.

Curbing Carbon Emissions

In 2008, greedy Wall Street bankers, hedge funds, and speculators nearly destroyed the U.S. economy by betting against the housing market and gambling with workers’ retirement savings.  But instead of learning a lesson about the dangers of unregulated financial markets, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a “market based” approach to reduce GHG emissions called a cap-and-trade program in 2009. 

In theory, cap-and-trade would set pollution limits (the “cap”) and distribute pollution allowances to industry that can be bought and sold in a market to meet emission targets (the “trade”). DeFazio voted against cap-and-trade arguing that creating a new, complex, speculative, multi-trillion dollar financial market for Wall Street – which has no interest in reducing pollution – was an unwise and potentially disastrous decision.

A similar, European cap-and-trade system has not dramatically reduced emissions even though hundreds of billions of dollars have exchanged hands in the European carbon market. As a result, Europe’s cap-and-trade experiment has only rewarded speculative bankers, investors, and hedge funds who care more about padding their own pockets than curbing GHG emissions.

When the Willamette River was an open sewer and the Cuyahoga River caught fire in the 1960s, Congress did not respond by giving polluters “credits” to trade and profit from in a speculative market.  Instead, Congress passed strong regulations through the Clean Water Act that require an inventory of water pollution and an issuance of permits that forced polluters to clean up or pay up.  That same tried and tested approach should be used to reduce GHG emissions.  

The Supreme Court already clarified that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has the authority to crack down on GHG pollution through the Clean Air Act.  We have been doing this for decades with other air pollutants and everyone agrees it has been phenomenally successful.  

DeFazio believes if we truly want to cut carbon emissions, the Obama administration and Congress should implement predictable regulations. This approach is far superior to emulating the failed carbon trading scheme in Europe which is rife with manipulation, fraud, and marketplace boom and bust cycles.