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Pelosi: 'On This Earth Day, the Greatest Challenge Facing the Nation and the World Is Climate Change'

Washington, D.C. - Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Majority Whip James E. Clyburn, Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, CAO Daniel Beard, and Acting Architect of the Capitol Stephen Ayers participated in a tree planting ceremony to commemorate the 38th Annual Earth Day today.  Below are the Speaker's remarks:

'Good afternoon.  Today--the 38th annual observance of Earth Day--is a time to celebrate our preservation of our beautiful planet and to reaffirm our commitment to environmental protection.

“I want to thank Majority Whip Clyburn and Congressman Cleaver for joining us.  I also want to thank leaders of the faith community who are with us as part of their calling to care for God's creation--our beautiful planet.  And perhaps they would be willing to say a few words in a moment.

“I also want to thank Dan Beard for his leadership, particularly in the area of the Greening the Capitol, and thank Acting Architect Ayers for joining us as well and for his leadership.

“On this Earth Day, the greatest challenge facing the United States, indeed the world, is climate change.

“That is why we have made achieving energy independence and reducing global warming the flagship issues of the New Direction Congress.

“We established a Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, which is ably led by Chairman Edward Markey, to raise the visibility of these critical issues.

“We enacted strong bipartisan legislation boosting energy efficiency for buildings, appliances, and lighting.  And we increased the fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks for the first time in 32 years - before many of you were born.

“Our increase in fuel economy for cars and trucks alone will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an amount equal to taking 28 million cars and trucks off the road in the year 2020.

“This year, we will take the next critical step to combat climate change by acting on carbon cap-and-trade legislation - that is my hope.

“The issue of climate change is as local as our neighborhoods, as personal as what it means in the individual lives of people, especially poor people in our country and the impact that change will have on them.  That is why, just as we are asking the world and the American people to take up the fight against global warming, we are taking the lead here with our Green the Capitol Initiative.  As personal as an individual, as local as a community, as global as the world, and we hope to lead by example. 

“The Green the Capitol Initiative promotes sustainability in all aspects of our operations: from purchasing renewable energy and heating and cooling the Capitol with cleaner natural gas to composting the waste from our cafeterias.

“This fall, we will also relight the Capitol Dome with energy efficient lighting.  The Capitol will shine brightly as a symbol of our democracy and our commitment to a greener America.

“Global warming is the issue upon which this generation will be judged by posterity.   Let future generations look back at this 38th Earth Day as a time when our nation's leaders awakened to the challenge of global warming.

“Now I have probably participated in every global warming observance in the life of Earth Day.  Sometimes in my community, San Francisco, and sometimes here - never before with the great hope that we can make a difference, that we could stand here and say that we are going to make the change that is necessary. 

“It is in my view a national security issue; it is an economic issue; it is an environmental and therefore a health issue; and it is a moral issue, because we have a moral obligation to pass this planet on to future generations intact, and if you believe, as do I, that this beautiful planet is God's creation, then you know we have a moral responsibility to preserve it. 

“A leader in this effort is our Democratic Whip, who is also the chair of our faith working group in the Congress.  Earlier today, he called us together with leaders in the faith community to reaffirm our commitment to preserving God's beautiful creation, and in doing so, to be looking out for another of God's creation, the poor. 

“I'm pleased to call to the podium the distinguished Democratic Whip, Mr. Clyburn.”