Senate Democrats are committed to climate action
Feb 26 2019
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.), top Democrat on the Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW), spoke on the Senate floor today to highlight the profound divide on climate change between Democrats and Republicans. In his remarks, Senator Carper slammed Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) strategy on the Green New Deal as a ploy to avoid real debate on the issue of climate change.
“We as Democrats may not agree on exactly how we must address climate change, but we all agree it is happening – human activity is the main cause – and we must act now,” said Senator Carper. “Democrats know that climate science isn’t part of some grand hoax. It isn’t an alarmist prediction. It doesn’t come from some left-leaning organization, and it doesn’t come from talk radio. It comes directly from our nation’s leading scientists and leading scientists around the world.”
“Senator McConnell, President Trump and Andrew Wheeler at EPA want to pass the buck – they want to run away from the growing threat we face,” Senator Carper continued. “For Democrats, we choose to confront climate change.”
Below are Senator Carper’s remarks, as prepared for delivery. For a full video of Senator Carper’s floor speech, click HERE.
“Mr. President, I rise to speak on a subject that, with a groundswell of activism, has once again captured our national attention—and rightfully so.
“Many years ago, as a young naval flight officer stationed in the San Francisco Bay Area preparing for my first of three tours of duty in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War, I joined with tens of thousands of people to celebrate our country’s first-ever Earth Day. That was back when polluters dumped waste into our waterways with impunity—garbage littered our shores and rivers oozed instead of flowed, and even caught on fire. Factories spewed toxic fumes, and acid rain fell from the sky. The urgency was clear.
“That very first Earth Day was a transformative experience for me, and it served as an inspiration for the rest of my life. As I look at what’s happening across our country, and I see the movement for bold, transformative action to save our planet, I see the faces of those who were with me that day in Golden Gate State Park.
“I’ve had a lot of different jobs since then. It’s not lost on me that I stand here today, on the brink of yet another watershed moment, as the top Democrat on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, the committee that oversees our nation’s environmental laws.
“Mr. President, I’m here to talk about climate change.
“In the days and weeks ahead, Senator McConnell intends to engage in a ploy to try and undermine the Green New Deal by calling a vote for a resolution he does not even support. I believe Senator McConnell hopes that, in turn, there may be some disruption and damage inflicted on the Democratic Party and the climate movement.
“To the American people, hear this: We cannot and will not allow cynicism to win. Not now, and not with so much at stake.
“When it comes to climate action, there could not be a starker difference between the Democrats and Republicans in this debate.
“We as Democrats may not agree on exactly how we must address climate change, but we all agree it is happening – human activity is the main cause – and we must act now. Democrats know that climate science isn’t part of some grand hoax. It isn’t an alarmist prediction. It doesn’t come from some left-leaning organization, and it doesn’t come from talk radio. It comes directly from our nation’s leading scientists and leading scientists around the world.
“Just three months ago, thirteen federal agencies released a comprehensive climate report that described the dire economic and health consequences we face if we do not take meaningful action to address climate change. This report, the Fourth National Climate Assessment, was developed over a three year period by more than three hundred federal experts and non-federal experts who volunteered their time.
“Here is a summary of the report. The science behind climate change is settled. From our warming oceans to our atmosphere, climate change is happening, and human activities, such as burning fossil fuels, are greatly contributing to this crisis.
“Our nation’s scientists have found a direct link between climate change and extreme weather we experienced in 2017, which altogether cost the American economy more than $300 billion in economic damages—more than any year before.
“Scientists are no longer asking if climate change is happening, but, rather, ‘how bad will it be?’ And the numbers and the facts don’t lie—it will only get worse if we do nothing. If we do not act on climate change, by 2050, wildfire seasons could burn up to six times more forest area every year. If we do not act on climate change, we will see more extreme flooding that devastate small communities like Ellicott City, Maryland – not far from here - which has been hit not by one, but by two 1,000 year floods in the past two years alone. If we do act on climate change, rising temperatures combined with increasingly frequent and severe rain means that farmers are likely to experience a reduction in corn and soybean yields by up to 25 percent. If we do not act on climate change, we will see more deadly category five hurricanes and storm surges like ones we saw with hurricanes Irma and Maria. If we do not act on climate change, we will see economic pain across every major sector in the country. The report concludes that at the end of the century, climate change could slash our gross domestic product (GDP) by 10 percent. That is more than double the losses of the Great Recession.
“It doesn’t matter if you are from a coastal state or from a landlocked state, if you care about public health or the environment, or if you care about our economy or national security. The fact is, every person living in this country will eventually see or experience the effects of climate change, if they don’t already today.
“We have two options: we confront this challenge head on—reduce carbon emissions, enhance resiliency and support millions of new clean energy jobs—or we ignore the problem and pass the buck. To whom? To our children. And to their children.
“Senator McConnell, President Trump and Andrew Wheeler at EPA want to pass the buck – they want to run away from the growing threat we face. Instead of pursuing ANY ideas to address climate change and protect Americans from its effects, the Trump Administration has promoted policies that increase our dependency on dirty energy.
“President Trump has even said he doesn’t believe in climate change, and that he doubts the credibility of his own scientists at NASA and NOAA, as well as 97% of the global scientific community. Continuing to misinform the American people and delay real climate action puts American lives and our economy at grave risk.
“It doesn’t have to be this way.
“For Democrats, we choose to confront climate change. We know our communities are feeling the pain now from the climate crisis because we see the effects of climate change every day. We may not yet agree on exactly HOW we must address climate change, but we all agree on three things:
“One: climate change is real. Two: human activity during the last century is the dominant cause of the climate crisis we face today. And, three: the United States and Congress should take immediate action to address the challenge of climate change.
“That’s why I will be introducing a resolution that says just that. Democrats know that we can have a strong climate AND a strong economy – anyone that says otherwise is preaching a false choice. Democrats know this because of the work we started with President Obama in the White House – where we accomplished real actions to put this nation on the path of net zero emissions.
“During the Obama Administration, starting with the Recovery Act, the federal government provided economic incentives, environmental targets and has supported market development to encourage investments in the clean energy of the future. Thanks to the investments during the previous Administration, consumers are paying less for energy and more than three million people went to work today in the clean energy sector.
“Democrats know we must build on this progress and that’s why we continue to support polices that reduce our nation’s carbon footprint, help create a fair economy and support those most vulnerable to climate effects.
“But in the U.S. Senate, it takes two to tango. And for over two decades, Democrats have put forth differing policies that use market forces, make big investments in technology or sets strict standards, and we don’t seem to get very far with our friends on the other side of the aisle. I know, I’ve sponsored or cosponsored many of these efforts. But we will keep trying, we will not give up.
“I will leave my colleagues with this message today: Climate action should not be an issue that divides us and I want to thank Senator McConnell in advance for allowing the Senate to devote a fulsome period of time to this important discussion. How we choose to act today will not decide our fates. How we choose to act today will decide the fates of generations of Americans that will be here on Earth long after the rest of us are gone.
“Time is wasting. Now let’s get to work. Thank you.”