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Sen. Merkley: ‘We’re Going To Create Jobs By Cleaning Up Carbon Dioxide Pollution’

By Brad Johnson  

"Sen. Merkley: ‘We’re Going To Create Jobs By Cleaning Up Carbon Dioxide Pollution’"

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Today, the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works considered the 2011 budget request for the Environmental Protection Agency. EPA administrator Lisa Jackson spent most of the hearing listening to Republicans deny the science of global warming, as Democrats talked about protecting their constituents from toxic pollution and creating new clean jobs. In his opening statement, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) lashed out at the Republican attacks that regulation of greenhouse gas pollution would destroy the economy:

Every single time in this nation, when we have confronted great damage to our air or to our water, it is always the same mantra: “it will kill jobs.” And every single time when we look back 10 years later, 20 years later, we’re so thankful that we actually created jobs by cleaning up our waterways, we created jobs by cleaning up our air, and we’re going to create jobs by cleaning up carbon dioxide pollution as well.

Watch it:

Merkley said “it absolutely infuriates me that we’re spending a billion dollars a day on oil from the Middle East and countries like Venezuela” so that “dictators in far-away countries can build shiny new towers.” Borrowing a turn of phrase from Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY), Merkley argued we should create “red, white, and blue jobs” in this country by “creating renewable energy and keep those dollars in our economy.”

As the Center for American Progress has found, our oil dependence is a dangerous habit.

Transcript:

MERKLEY: As I’m listening to this conversation, I’m reflecting back on how every single time in this nation, when we have confronted great damage to our air or to our water, it is always the same mantra: ‘it will kill jobs’. And every single time when we look back 10 years later, 20 years later, we’re so thankful that we actually created jobs by cleaning up our waterways, we created jobs by cleaning up our air, and we’re going to create jobs by cleaning up carbon dioxide pollution as well.

I can tell you it absolutely infuriates me that we’re spending a billion dollars a day on oil from the Middle East and countries like Venezuela that don’t share our interests. Now, I just came back through Kuwait, and they’re building gorgeous towers with our American money. And if you want our dollars to go out of this country and build towers in Kuwait, then go on fighting for that policy. But if you want to create jobs in America, let’s keep that money here. Let’s create red white and blue jobs in America creating renewable energy and keep those dollars in our economy, rather than sending them overseas so that dictators in far-away countries can build shiny new towers.

I think we need to have a direct conversation about the damage to our national security of dependence on oil overseas. We need to have an honest conversation about the hemorrhaging of our dollars going overseas rather than creating jobs here in America. And we need to have an honest conversation about the impact of carbon dioxide pollution. The EPA is right at the middle of that conversation, and thank you for putting together a budget that presents a responsible and honest and straightforward approach to taking on this challenge and the challenge of creating jobs here in America. We can create jobs as we work to change the use of carbon dioxide being produced by our vehicles. We can take and produce a tremendous number of jobs as we pursue energy saving retrofits in our buildings.

We absolutely have the chance to take and develop energy here, so that we are making our energy payments to Americans, not to Kuwaitis.

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