Congressman Scott Peters

Representing the 52nd District of California

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Rep. Peters Remarks at the Introduction of the Super Pollutants Act of 2019

Sep 6, 2019
Speeches

Good morning. Thank you all for joining us today.

We’re gathered here against this beautiful ocean backdrop at the site of Birch Aquarium at Scripps– a museum that showcases the renowned research discoveries of Scripps Oceanography, one of the leading centers for atmospheric, ocean, and climate science.

It’s the perfect place to announce the bipartisan, bicameral bill I introduced with Representative Matt Gaetz and Senators Susan Collins and Chris Murphy in the Senate: The Super Pollutants Act of 2019.

The bill will reduce three of the most potent types of short-lived climate pollutants–or super pollutants– in the U.S. and abroad: methane, black carbon, and hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs.

Methane is a primary component of natural gas that’s colorless, odorless, and can be produced naturally from the earth or produced through a series of chemical reactions as organic matter decomposes.

Black carbon is formed when biomass and fossil fuels don’t combust completely. A complete combustion process would result in the formation of carbon dioxide, but when incomplete combustion occurs, it produces a particulate matter that makes up soot.

HFCs are synthetic gases that are used in manufacturing and are byproducts of some industrial processes. Unlike other greenhouse gases, HFCs don’t occur naturally. They were intentionally developed under the Montreal Protocol as alternatives to chemicals that were depleting the ozone layer.

These three greenhouse gases are some of the most harmful pollutants in our atmosphere. They contribute to global warming much more than carbon dioxide.

The good news is that they are short-lived and only remain in the atmosphere for periods of days to years as opposed to carbon dioxide, which can linger in the air for more than a century. That means curbing super pollutants is the single fastest way to slow the rate of climate change.

We need this bill now more than ever. Just last week, the Trump Administration announced a disastrous rule that would roll back Obama-era regulations to cut methane emissions in half by the year 2025.

The Super Pollutant Act addresses this by strengthening standards for new sources of methane and existing oil and gas operations if voluntary industry efforts do not decrease methane emissions by 40 percent below 2012 levels.

This bill would not be possible without UCSD’s own Dr. Veerbhadran Ramanathan.

Back in 2013, I read an article in the New York Times about the danger of fuel particles, or black carbon. It turned out the findings were based on a study by Scripps Institution of Oceanography and led by Dr. Ram.

We began working on a bill to tackle this and other potent atmospheric pollutants, which would later be known as the first iteration of the Super Pollutant Emissions Reduction Act, or SUPER Act.

Later that year, I invited Dr. Ram to Washington, D.C. to give a briefing for congressional staff on his work at Scripps Oceanography on climate science, including his discovery that non-CO2 gases were major contributors to climate change.

In 2017, I joined world leaders for a Vatican climate conference at the invitation of Dr. Ram, who was a science advisor to Pope Francis and then-California Governor Jerry Brown.

In short, the Super Pollutant Act is based on Dr. Ram’s years of work in the face of rising greenhouse gas emissions and more severe climate consequences. His research shows that enacting the SUPER Act could avoid one and a half degrees of warming by the end of the century.

Our intent is to set achievable goals to reach net-zero emissions by 2050, deploy proven technology to reverse the rate of climate change as soon as possible, and restore U.S. leadership on climate.

Watch the live-stream of the press conference here.