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Harkin, Senate Leader in Push for Clean, Renewable Fuels; Welcomes Climate Change Proposal

June 2, 2014

Harkin, Senate Leader in Push for Clean, Renewable Fuels; Welcomes Climate Change Proposal

‘Climate change is real and this proposal is a major action to address it’

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) today issued the following statement on the proposed rule released today by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  The proposal aims to reduce carbon pollution from existing power plants by 30 percent by 2030.  The draft rule will now will now go through an extensive public comment period and stakeholder feedback process before being finalized. 

Harkin was an original cosponsor of the bipartisan Bingaman-Specter climate bill introduced in the Senate in 2007 and has been a long-time leader in the move toward clean, renewable fuels. He authored the first-ever energy title in the 2002 farm bill to promote the production and use of biofuels and biobased products,  and to support energy efficiency and renewable energy projects for farmers and rural small businesses.  The 2008 farm bill extended these energy programs, including the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) that has become hugely popular with farmers.   For background on Harkin’s renewable energy work, click here.

“Today’s announcement is a major step forward and I applaud the President and the EPA for this action.  Climate change is real, as we have seen by increased frequency of severe weather, in extended draughts and heat waves, in increases in heavy precipitation, and in flooding in Iowa and throughout the Midwest.  Today’s proposed rule will deliver a significant reduction in carbon pollution from our largest single source, and thus it represents a major action to address climate change.

“The last time major Clean Air Act regulations on air pollution took effect on the power sector in the 1990’s to limit emissions of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, and carbon monoxide; we were told that compliance would be an economic disaster.  Yet, the regulation had the opposite effect.  Environmental firms and small businesses generated $282 billion in new revenue and $40 billion in exports and supported 1.6 million new jobs.  There was no significant impact on electricity prices.  We are hopeful of the same, positive outcome from today’s announcement.

“We also know that renewables are rapidly expanding as effective and economic power supplies.  In Iowa, we get more than 25 percent of our electrical power from carbon pollution-free wind.  Moreover, our power companies have already begun to shut down some of the older, less efficient coal-burning power plants.

“What the Obama Administration is proposing is bold action.  It will take time to implement.  But I have no doubt that it is in the best interest of our climate and our country’s future.”