WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.), top Democrat on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW), released the following statement about Majority Leader Mitch Connell’s (R-Ky.) cynical strategy to call for a vote on the Green New Deal resolution, a resolution the Leader does not support, in order to damage the Democratic Party and undermine the climate change movement.
“There is a growing movement for climate action that has taken hold in every corner of our country, and it will not be quieted or quelled by political games on the Senate floor. It’s my hope that the American people will not be distracted or disheartened by this disingenuous vote, and will instead be emboldened to keep calling on Congress to take meaningful climate action. I urge my colleagues to cast aside these displays of gamesmanship and come together to take meaningful action on climate change.”
Yesterday, Senator Carper went to the Senate floor to urge his colleagues to join with Democrats in addressing climate change. His speech can be viewed HERE, and his speech as prepared for delivery is below.
“Mr. President, I rise to speak on the upcoming vote on the Majority Leader’s Green New Deal resolution, a resolution that, ironically, he does not even support.
“First, I want to say this about the Green New Deal. Even our Republican friends cannot deny that this resolution has sparked a national conversation and generated a great deal of enthusiasm among the American people, especially among younger Americans.
“It reminds me of the time I was a young naval flight officer stationed outside San Francisco, waiting to be deployed to Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War. I joined with millions of Americans across the country in celebrating our nation’s very first Earth Day.
As I listen to the rising chorus of voices calling for climate action today, I hear the sounds of that day in Golden Gate Park. I remember the urgency we felt then to address the environmental challenges facing our nation and world, and I feel an even greater urgency now.
“That is why it’s so disappointing to me that many of our Republican colleagues are trying to make a mockery of the very real concerns and the passionate calls for action that we’re hearing from people across this country and around the world.
“This is not a time for derision. This is not a time for division. On an issue as serious as this one, we should be serious about addressing it. However, it has become clear that some, not all, of our Republican friends would rather have some fun, instead, and talk about hamburgers. Worse, some have conflated meaningful action on climate change with socialism.
“Mr. President, with the death of our late colleague John McCain, I am the last Vietnam veteran serving in the U.S. Senate. I served five years during a hot war in Southeast Asia to oppose the expansion of communism.
“Shortly after we celebrated that first-ever Earth Day in 1970, I was sent on my first of three deployments to Southeast Asia, before eventually serving another 18 years until the end of the Cold War as a Navy P-3 aircraft mission commander in the Naval Reserve and retiring as a Navy captain after chasing Soviet submarines across the world.
“I am not a socialist. Like many of my colleagues, I am an American patriot. I care deeply about this planet, and I know we can have cleaner air and water while creating jobs. Those two things are not mutually exclusive. Our Republican colleagues know better than that, and they owe our country better than that.
“In recent weeks, our Republican colleagues have thrown around a ‘$93 trillion’ number. That wildly overestimated number primarily refers to provisions in the Green New Deal that are not directly related to climate change.
“At a time when our country is looking to Congress for leadership on climate action, hiding behind political games, deceptions and scare tactics is irresponsible. It’s cowardly when we ought to be brave.
“Right now, a clear majority of Americans want us in Congress to address the growing climate crisis that is facing our country and our planet. We should be having a fact-based, policy-driven conversation about tackling this crisis. And we should be talking about the real costs that confront us, including the costs of inaction.
“I live in Delaware, the lowest lying state in the country. Our state is sinking while the ocean around us are rising. According to our nation’s leading scientists, climate change unchecked means more sea level rise -– costing coastal communities like the ones in my state trillions of dollars in economic damages over the next 80 years.
“In the Northeast, we are experiencing rain events where we are measuring rain by the foot, not by the inch. Not too far away from us, Ellicott City, Maryland has withstood two 1,000-year floods in less than two years.
“Today, our neighbors along the Missouri River Basin are suffering through catastrophic flooding. As of Friday, the cost of damage to Nebraska alone already surpassed $1.3 billion, and the damage to Iowa alone was estimated at $1.6 billion. Some cities are currently without fresh water.
“In Missouri, entire communities have been evacuated. In northwestern Missouri, roughly 40,000 acres of farm land was still under water this past Friday.
“Our nation’s scientists tell us that climate change unchecked means more frequent and intense storms – meaning bomb cyclones, intense rainfalls and category five hurricanes become the new normal.
“Last year, we witnessed the tragic devastation caused by wildfires fueled by drought and heat, like the California wildfires. Imagine what we could face in 2050 when, according to our nation’s scientists, wildfire seasons burn up to six times more forest area each year.
“The extreme weather events we see today are already taking a toll on American lives, American livelihoods and our nation’s budget. According to NOAA, in 2017 alone, extreme weather cost Americans $300 billion in economic damages, a new record. In that same year, the federal government spent $120 billion in federal disaster spending for just four extreme weather events.
“Earlier this month, the non-partisan Government Accountability Office released its biennial High Risk List and, once again, identified climate change as a significant fiscal risk to the federal government and to taxpayers. According to GAO, since 2005, federal funding for disaster assistance has reached $430 billion – nearly half a trillion – and those costs will continue to rise. GAO says, quote, “Disaster costs are projected to increase as extreme weather events become more frequent and intense due to climate change.”
“NOAA and NASA tell us these numbers will be a drop in the bucket compared to our new climate future if we do not act on climate change. If we do not change course, just about every major economic sector in the United States will be negatively affected by climate change by the turn of the century. Some sectors could see hundreds of billions of dollars of losses every year.
“Add it all up and climate change could slash up to 10 percent of our gross domestic product (GDP) by 2100. For context, that would be more than DOUBLE the losses of the Great Recession. However, all of these costs are woefully underestimated. How can we truly put a price tag on the toll of this destruction?
“What is the cost for a fourth-generation farm family who loses their land and livestock? What is the cost of a bridge inundated by water, separating a community from a hospital or other emergency services? What is the cost of a family who loses a child to an asthma attack on a high particulate matter day?
“The circumstances I’ve laid out are dire, because that is the crisis we face. We cannot evade it into oblivion.
“No matter where we live, we can’t ignore the reality of climate change or its effects. We have to accept and address this crisis. But, as Albert Einstein once said, “In adversity lies opportunity” And, the opportunity before us is even greater.
“More than three million people have gone to work in the clean energy sector in the U.S. in recent years. Those jobs are in renewable energy generation, energy efficiency, smart grid and storage, cleaner fuels and lower-emission vehicles.
“Nearly 500,000 of these clean energy jobs are in the solar and wind industries. One out of six construction workers in this country now make their living in energy efficiency. One out of every five companies involved in making motor vehicle parts make their money from products that make our cars, trucks and vans cleaner.
“Our clean energy revolution did not happen by accident. We put smart policies in place, and we had leadership that believed climate change was a threat. During the Obama Administration, starting with the Recovery Act, the federal government provided economic incentives and smart regulations to support market investments in clean energy.
“We must build on this progress and continue to support polices that reduce our nation’s carbon footprint, help create a more robust economy and support those most vulnerable to climate effects.
“But instead of pursuing any ideas to address climate change and protect Americans from its effects, the Trump Administration has decided to ignore climate science; decided to defund clean energy research and roll back any meaningful climate action; decided to walk away from provisions that would help protect Americans from rising floods and other extreme weather events.
“The President’s failed leadership on climate change threatens our health, our economy, U.S. competitiveness and our future. And sadly, most of our Republican friends have been applauding the President with every action.
“And so, I say to the American people: Don’t be fooled or distracted by these political games. We cannot allow cynicism to win. We can reduce our nation’s carbon footprint, strengthen our economy and support those most vulnerable among us. Indeed, we must.
“Climate change is real. Human activity is the dominant cause. Congress must act.
“Let’s stop the political theater and start to address the climate crisis before us today while we still have time. Thank you. I yield the floor.”