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WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator Susan Collins today introduced the "Clean Cookstoves Support Act," a bill that would reduce carbon pollution and improve public health by supporting a global market for clean and efficient cookstoves.

"Replacing unsafe cookstoves with modern alternatives is the 'low-hanging fruit' of environmental fixes," Senator Collins said. "It can be done relatively quickly and inexpensively and would improve lives, empower women, and combat pollution around the world."

Nearly half the world's population cooks over open fires or inefficient, polluting and unsafe cookstoves using wood, agricultural waste, dung, coal, and other solid fuels. Smoke from these traditional stoves is associated with chronic and acute diseases that disproportionately affect women and young children. These stoves also create serious environmental problems by emitting black carbon that contributes to regional air pollution and climate change.

The "Clean Cookstoves Support Act," co-sponsored by Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), would reinforce the U.S. Government's commitment to spur the adoption of clean cookstoves around the world. It would require the Secretary of State to work to advance the goals of the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, which was formed through the leadership of Secretary of State Clinton and the United Nation's Foundation to help create a thriving global market for clean and efficient household cooking solutions. The Alliance has the goal of spurring the adoption of clean cookstoves in 100 million homes by 2020.

The bill would also authorize existing funding commitments made by the U.S. Government to support the Alliance's mission. Several federal agencies and departments-including the Departments of State, Energy, Health and Human Services and the United States Agency for International Development, the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Science Foundation and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation-have committed a total of up to $125 million to the sector for the first five years of the Alliance.

Background

• The Global Burden of Disease (GBD) Study 2010 doubled the mortality estimates for exposure to smoke from cookstoves, referred to as "household air pollution," from two million to four million deaths annually in the developing world.

• The GBD indicates this is more than the deaths from malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV/AIDS combined.

• The GBD ranks household air pollution as the fourth worst overall health risk factor in the world and as the second worst health risk factor in the world for women and girls.

• Cookstoves account for some 25 percent of black carbon emissions.

Below is the full text of Senator Collins' remarks, as prepared for delivery, on the Senate floor introducing the bill:

I rise today to introduce The Clean Cookstoves Support Act. This legislation addresses a serious global public health and environmental issue. I am pleased to be joined in this effort by my friend and colleague, Senator Durbin.

Nearly half the world's population cooks over open fires or with inefficient, polluting, and unsafe cookstoves using wood, agricultural waste, dung, coal, or other solid fuels. Smoke from traditional cookstoves and open fires is associated with chronic and acute diseases and affects women and young children disproportionately.

Alarmingly, the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) Study 2010 doubled the mortality estimates for exposure to smoke from cookstoves, referred to as "household air pollution," from two million to four million deaths annually in the developing world. The GBD indicates that this is more than the deaths from malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV/AIDS combined. The GBD ranks household air pollution as the fourth worst overall health risk factor in the world and as the second worst health risk factor in the world for women and girls. Millions more are sickened from the toxic smoke and thousands suffer burns annually from open fires or unsafe cookstoves and fuels.

Traditional cookstoves also create serious environmental problems. Recent studies show that the emissions of black carbon, or common soot, from biomass cookstoves significantly contribute to regional air pollution and climate change. In fact, cookstoves account for some 25 percent of black carbon emissions. Each family using a traditional cookstove can require up to two tons of biomass cooking fuel, and where demand for fuel outstrips the natural regrowth of resources, local land degradation and loss of biodiversity often result.

Moreover, the collection of this fuel is a burden that is shouldered disproportionately by women and children. In some regions of the world, women and girls risk rape and gender-based violence during the up to 20 hours per week they spend away from their families gathering fuel.

Replacing these cookstoves with modern alternatives would help reverse these alarming health and environmental trends. This would be relatively inexpensive and could be done quickly-it is what scientists call the "low-hanging fruit" of environmental fixes.

Through the leadership of Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and the United Nations Foundation, the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves was formed in the year 2010. Recognizing the serious health and environmental issues posed by traditional cookstoves, the Alliance aims to save lives, improve livelihoods, empower women, and combat pollution by creating a thriving global market for clean and efficient household cooking solutions. Alliance partners are working to help overcome market barriers that currently impede the production, deployment, and use of cookstoves in the developing world that are clean.

To assist in this important endeavor, several federal agencies and departments have committed a total of up to $125 million to the sector for the first five years of the Alliance. These include a wide variety of government agencies: the Departments of State, Energy, and Health and Human Services; the United States Agency for International Development; the Environmental Protection Agency; the National Science Foundation; and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation. The U.S. Department of Agriculture, NOAA, and the Peace Corps have also made commitments to provide technical assistance.

To help advance the Alliance's goal to spur the adoption of clean cookstoves in 100 million households by the year 2020, the U.S. Government has focused its commitments on: applied research and development; diplomatic engagement to encourage a market for clean cookstoves and to improve access; international development projects to help build commercial businesses; and development efforts, including humanitarian and empowerment programs for women and girls.

The legislation that Senator Durbin and I are introducing today reinforces this commitment and would require the Secretary of State to work to advance the goals of the Alliance. In addition, the bill authorizes the existing funding commitments made by the our Government to ensure that these crucial pledges toward preventing unnecessary illness and reducing pollution around the globe are met.

By supporting the work of the Alliance and the commitments of the U.S. Government to replace traditional cookstoves with modern versions that emit far less soot, this bill aims to directly benefit some of the world's poorest people and reduce the harmful pollution that affects us all.

President, there is another reason for my colleagues to support this initiative. Addressing persistent global issues of poverty and underdevelopment makes the U.S. more secure by undercutting some of the key drivers of extremism and militancy.

I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting The Clean Cookstoves and Fuels Support Act.