I’m challenging John Kerry in the Democratic primary because I think Massachusetts deserves real leadership in the U.S. Senate. I also think the people of Massachusetts deserve someone who talks straight and whose policies come from the heart and not from a political playbook. We now know that John Kerry’s vote on Iraq exemplified that kind of calculation, aimed not at what was in the interest of the nation, but on his own personal political ambition in running for President. Mr. Kerry currently criticizes some of the very policies he voted for–now that it’s safe to do so.
John Kerry has also been vocal on the environment and the issue of global climate change. Let me be clear. He’s had a decent record on environmental issues and he’s said a lot of the right things. We in Massachusetts would expect no less from our representative. Words are great and he’s said a lot of them. He’s even got a book. But, rhetoric is no match for true leadership.
So, let’s look at where he stands on global climate change. He’s filed legislation together with a Maine Republican Senator which is called the Kerry-Snowe bill. It’s not a bad bill. But, it is far from the best bill. The best bill, which I support, is the Boxer-Sanders Global Warming Pollution Reduction Act. This bill would start reductions of greenhouse gas emissions in 2010 and, by 2050 would reduce greenhouse gas emissions to a level 80 percent below the 1990 levels. Environmentalists embrace the Boxer-Sanders bill as the “gold standard”. Why is that? Here’s what the Union of Concerned Scientists had to say:
“This bill lays out a positive vision for the deep reductions needed to leave our children and grandchildren a safe climate.”
Human activity-burning fossil fuels and the cutting down of forests releases CO2 that blankets the earth and traps heat. The amount of CO2 in the atmosphere has increased greatly over the last century and global temperatures are rising as a result. Scientific evidence suggests if atmospheric concentrations of heat-trapping gases stabilize at or below 450 parts per million (ppm CO2 equivalent), we have a good chance of holding global average temperature increases below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) and averting the most severe impacts of global warming.
Counting on people not to understand the difference between his own bill and the “gold standard”, John Kerry recently described his legislation as more “realistic” than the Boxer-Sanders bill. If so, then Ted Kennedy, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, John Edwards, Christopher Dodd and twelve other members of the Senate (and all the other Democratic candidates for President) must be unrealistic, since they support the Boxer-Sanders bill. It’s hard to call yourself a leader when one-third of your Democratic colleagues in the Senate are in line ahead of you.
The goal of stopping global warming will be one of the greatest challenges ever to face our nation and the world. Without question, we need to work hard to make sure that in protecting our children, their children and all future generations, we do everything possible to minimize the impact on our economy. I believe we can and will achieve both goals. How? We can do it with broad investments in new technology, in retraining our workforce to operate new energy sources and with the most aggressive energy efficiency programs which save both money and the environment at the same time.
I’ve been studying how other countries and states are leading on the climate change issue. California, for example, has kept per capita electricity consumption flat over the past 30 years, even while its population has gone up 60% and at a time when per-capita energy use has skyrocketed in the rest of the U.S., as well as the rest of the world. How did they do this? California has strong energy efficiency standards for buildings and appliances and other innovative efficiency programs. Their economy has not suffered and, in fact, it has flourished. Actually, California has whole new industries based upon energy efficiency and renewable energy. Massachusetts, with our intellectual and technological resources, can not only meet such a goal, but we also have the potential to lead the country and the world. This is where true leaders must call upon the ingenuity and the spirit of the American people.
We need representatives who aren’t afraid to lead. I can tell you right now that I won’t be worried about making people angry in Iowa or in Michigan or in the coal producing states when tackling the issue of global warming.
Finally, if John Kerry decides after reading this that it’s safe now to be the 18th member of the Senate to embrace the “gold standard” of environmental leadership, I won’t mind one bit. Our children and their children will be better for it.
Democratic Candidate for the U.S. Senate from, and for, Massachusetts