Senator Markey promises clean energy in maiden Senate speech

Senator Edward J. Markey promised Wednesday morning to introduce legislation setting new targets for clean energy and efficiency improvements over the next two decades and to fix the nation’s aging natural gas system.

The promises were made as part of the Massachusetts Democrat’s maiden speech in the Senate, in which he also pledged action on global warming, gun control and student loan rates. He used much of the 20-minute speech to pay tribute to Massachusetts and Malden, the city from which he said “this son of a milkman is now serving the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in the United States Senate.”

“Climate change is irrefutable,” said Markey, who co-wrote a climate bill that passed the House in 2009 but stalled in the Senate. “The planet is running a fever. There are no emergency rooms for planets.”

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Though gun control legislation failed to advance in the Senate earlier this year, Markey said Monday’s killing spree at the Washington Navy Yard gave the issue new urgency and promised to work to ban assault weapons and expand background checks.

“We need to do more to stem the tide of gun violence,” he said.

Senator Elizabeth Warren, among a handful of senators watching the speech from the chamber, welcomed her fellow Massachusetts Democrat, as did Majority Leader Harry Reid, the Nevada Democrat.

Reid said Markey and Warren have great potential but lamented that the current Senate is “the least productive Senate in the history of the country,” which he blamed on Republicans.