Good morning. We're here today to look at what America's small businesses can do to confront global warming—the most critical challenge – next to the war on terror -facing our nation today.

I would like to thank Senator Boxer for joining us to share with the Committee what small businesses have been doing in California to enact and implement the most far reaching greenhouse gas legislation in the United States to date. I am excited about her work in the Environment and Public Works Committee to tackle climate change and I look forward to continuing our work together.

I would also like to thank Ranking Member Snowe for her work in this area. Earlier this year, Senator Snowe and I introduced the Global Warming Reduction Act of 2007—an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 65% by the year 2050. This is an aggressive approach—but an aggressive approach is what the science tells us is needed if we are to avoid a dangerous climate "tipping point." Senator Snowe and I have also done a lot of work together to provide tax incentives for energy efficient buildings and renewable energy. Our commitment on that front is as strong as ever.

From the State of the Union to states across this country, from the Academy Awards to the National Academy of Sciences, people are finally waking up to see that we're in the middle of a crisis– and we have ten years to put our country on a different path before its too late.

Last month, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change put forward a report that’s already being referred to as "the smoking gun" on global warming—written by more than 600 scientists, reviewed by another 600 experts, and edited by officials from 154 governments, the report provides indisputable evidence that the ice caps are melting, the sea level is rising, and the earth's surface is heating up at an alarming and potentially catastrophic rate. Eleven of the last twelve years rank among the 12 warmest years on record--The Earth is hotter today than at any time in at least the past thousand years.

It was 1987 when Senator Al Gore of Tennessee held the first hearings on climate change in the Commerce Committee. Unfortunately, from a policy perspective, little progress has been made since. Instead we entered a period of procrastination and evasion. And more recently, under President Bush, of stonewalling unilateralism, of energy policy made by secret CEO task forces and trumped-up industry funded "studies" that challenge the ever-growing scientific consensus that this threat is real.

Recently however, the American people have demanded more, and politicians are actually listening. We'll hear more in a moment about what's going on in California. And my home state of Massachusetts—under the leadership of Deval Patrick—has rejoined the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, now an eight state effort to reduce global warming pollution from power plants. Across the nation, 376 mayors from 50 states have signed onto the US Mayors Climate Protection Agreement, an initiative to advance the goals of the Kyoto Protocol. And even President Bush finally saw fit to mention "the serious challenge of global climate change" in his State of the Union address.

Equally important in the drive to put global warming front and center is the recent call heard from the private sector. Fortune 500 companies such as Alcoa, BP America, General Electric and Dupont are demanding action at the federal level, calling on Washington to quickly put in place federal policy that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

We've reached a critical juncture in the fight to save this planet, and it's a fight that can't be won without the support of the private sector. Buy-in from Big Business can get us half way there. But we'll need a concerted effort from America’s small businesses—which employ half of all private sector workers and produce half of the GDP in this country—to bring us home.

Small businesses are already playing a critical role in creating the technologies that are helping America to become energy independent. Investors are seeing the light as well—in 2004, $1.4 billion in venture capital found its way to "cleantech" start-up companies. These companies aren't only saving the planet—they're growing the economy and they're creating new jobs. We'll hear later this morning from Jim Barber, whose company Metabolix turns corn sugar and switch grass into natural plastics. Today, plastic and chemical production consumes nearly 10 percent of the oil we use. Jim is not only reducing America's dependence on fossil fuels, but his company will create up to 120 new jobs when he opens his first commercial plant as part of a strategic partnership with Archer Daniels Midland in Clinton, Iowa later this year.

Thousands of stories similar to Jim's demonstrate how the entrepreneurial spirit of America is working to reverse the damage that has already been done. But innovation alone won't get us to where we need to be. There are 25 million small businesses in this country—25 million business owners that are focused on keeping their doors open and putting food on the table for their families. Climate change sometimes seems a distant threat compared to rising health care costs and staying competitive in an increasingly global economy.

Even so, small business owners are telling us that energy costs are a concern. The National Small Business Association recently conducted a poll of its members, asking how energy prices affected their business decisions. Seventy-five percent said that energy prices had at least a moderate effect on their businesses—with roughly the same number saying that reducing energy costs would increase their profitability. Despite these numbers, only 33 percent have invested in energy efficient programs.

Where's the disconnect? If high energy costs are driving profits down, and implementing energy saving programs will not only lead to greater profitability but also lower greenhouse gas emissions, why are America's business owners not falling over themselves to plug the leaks?

We need to do a better job of reaching out to America's small businesses to demonstrate to them that these savings are real, and that the win for their bottom line is a win for the long term health of the planet. We need to provide the resources, through public and private commitments, to help business owners with the up front costs of implementing these programs.

Representatives from the Environmental Protection Agency and the Small Business Administration are here to testify on just how committed this Administration is to helping small businesses join the fight against global warming. We'll also hear from Chris Lynch, who is doing terrific work helping small businesses become energy efficient for the Pennsylvania Small Business Development Centers, and will share with us some of the factors behind his success.

I'm looking forward to hearing from all of our witnesses today. Small business needs to step up to the plate, and we in Washington need to provide the push. If we're going to beat back this global threat, it's going to require a commitment from the entire global community--public and private sectors, big businesses and small. We cannot spend another year debating whether or not climate change is real. 2007 must be the year when we finally hash out a solution. And I look forward to working with my colleagues to make that happen.

Now I'd like to turn to Ranking Member Snowe for her Statement.