Op-Eds

05.18.17

Sea level rise could fragment Rhode Island's coastline

by Sheldon Whitehouse

Early explorers found Rhode Island's coastline looking much like it does today. Before then, it looked much the same for centuries to the Narragansetts and Wampanoags who lived here. That's going to change. While the Industrial Revolution that began in Rhode Island in the eighteenth century brought our nation great wealth, it also created manmade pollution that began changing our climate. Climate change causes sea levels to rise, and in the last century they rose more rapidly than they had i… Continue Reading


04.23.17

Unraveling Obama’s climate legacy may not be as easy as Trump thinks

by Sheldon Whitehouse

President Trump recently fired off an executive order aiming to wipe out many Obama administration climate change measures, directing federal agencies to take or unwind various actions. Typical for this insider-friendly administration, it's a polluter's wish list. As recently as 2009, Donald Trump and his children signed onto a full-page New York Times advertisement urging climate action, because the science was "irrefutable" and the consequences "catastrophic and irreversible." Now this. Sad. … Continue Reading


01.02.17

Closing the Saltwater Gap

by Sheldon Whitehouse

To put it bluntly, our oceans are in peril. From the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean to the Arctic ice sheet to remote beaches on Midway Atoll in the middle of the Pacific, there is no longer a place in our oceans untouched by the hand of man. A few numbers quantify the harm humans have caused: The oceans are acidifying at a rate faster than any other time in the past 50 million years. Around 8 million metric tons of plastic, or five grocery bags of debris for each foot of shoreline in the world, f… Continue Reading


12.20.16

Unprecedented and Unprincipled Adversary

by Sheldon Whitehouse

America's universities are home, more than any place else in our country, to the enterprise of science. That has been an important and proud role for our great universities, and it has produced wonderful discoveries. Besides providing technical progress, science gives our society its headlights, warning us of oncoming hazards. As the pace of change accelerates, we need those headlights brighter than ever. So when a threat looms over the enterprise of science, the universities that are its home n… Continue Reading


11.10.16

An Open Letter To President-Elect Donald J. Trump

by Sheldon Whitehouse

This is an open letter to President-elect Trump. I want you to know that America expects better of you as president than what it saw in the campaign you ran. You are now to be our president, and that brings new responsibilities. I hope you feel the call of history to live up to them. That history calls on you to remember that America is a wonderfully diverse country. We are Christian and Jewish and Muslim and Hindu and none of the above. We are gay and straight. We are black, brown, white and i… Continue Reading


10.17.16

Coke, Pepsi and Climate Change: Letter to the Editor

by Sheldon Whitehouse

To the Editor: Re "Soda Giants Back, Then Lobby Against, Public Health" (Business Day, Oct. 11): Your description of Coke and Pepsi's mixed messages on public health has an echo in climate change. Coke and Pepsi have very laudable climate policies, and make strong public statements. But they lobby Congress through the American Beverage Association, which is moribund on climate (but very lively when a soda tax is proposed), and through their association, they support the U.S. Chamber of Commer… Continue Reading


10.10.16

Dear Lamar Smith: Climate change is real

by Sheldon Whitehouse

Today, I'll be visiting the Lone Star State to talk about an issue that's vitally important to both Texas and my home state of Rhode Island: climate change. Our climates are changing, and we are the cause. Clear and simple measurements show the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere up more than 40 percent since the Industrial Revolution began. Burning fossil fuels has pumped out massive quantities of carbon pollution. The link is established between this rise in CO2 emissions and the measu… Continue Reading


08.29.16

Standoff Over a House Panel's Subpoenas Raises Key Issue

by Sheldon Whitehouse

The House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology has subpoenaed official investigative files of the attorneys general of New York and Massachusetts. The provocation for the subpoenas was that the attorneys general, presented with evidence that fossil fuel companies may have misled customers and investors, undertook investigations to determine if there were any violations of state law. For the moment, there is a standoff; the attorneys general are refusing to comply, and the congressional co… Continue Reading


08.09.16

Big Oil’s master class in rigging the system

by Sheldon Whitehouse and Elizabeth Warren

For years, ExxonMobil actively advanced the notion that its products had little or no impact on the Earth's environment. As recently as last year, it continued to fund organizations that play down the risks of carbon pollution. So what did ExxonMobil actually know about climate change? And when did it know it? Reasonable questions - particularly if ExxonMobil misled its investors about the long-term prospects of its business model or if the company fooled consumers into buying its products base… Continue Reading


08.07.16

Read My Take On Our Work to Combat The Nation's Opioid Crisis

by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse

Jennifer from East Providence started using uppers at 16. Then Percocet, then heroin. She struggled to shake her addiction, failing court-ordered counseling. Finally, she sought help at CODAC Behavioral Health in Cranston and broke heroin's grip. Now 28, Jennifer is excelling in community college, with plans to attend law school. Ordeals like Jennifer's are too common. In 2015, overdoses were responsible for the deaths of more than 20 Rhode Islanders a month on average - more than homicides, ca… Continue Reading


07.12.16

What Phony Op-Eds About Climate Change Have In Common

by Sheldon Whitehouse

BEGINNING IN 1999, the Department of Justice pursued (and ultimately won) a civil lawsuit against several major tobacco companies. By denying the negative health effects of tobacco, the suit alleged, the industry was engaging in fraud. Today, researchers often compare the fossil fuel industry's support for an array of groups that propagate climate change denial to the tobacco industry's pattern of denial of the dangers of its product. Last spring, I wrote an opinion piece recommending a similar … Continue Reading


07.11.16

The New Nuclear Renaissance

by Jim Inhofe, Sheldon Whitehouse, Mike Crapo, Cory Booker

There has been a groundswell of activity and investment in recent years surrounding advanced nuclear reactors. A dynamic group of nuclear engineers and scientists are chasing the future - and racing against China and Russia - to develop innovative reactor designs. These technologies hold enormous promise to provide clean, safe, affordable, and reliable energy, not just for our country, but for the world. These innovators have a vision for the future, and they charge ahead backed by more than $1 … Continue Reading


04.03.16

The WSJ's Long Record of Protecting Polluters

by Sheldon Whitehouse

The Wall Street Journal is quite irate that I rank them with industry front groups and cranks denying climate change. But they have a record whenever industrial pollutants are involved. Look at the Journal's commentary on acid rain, on the ozone layer, and on climate change. There is a pattern: Deny the science, question the motives, exaggerate the costs, help the polluters. When they are wrong this often, but keep at it, you have to wonder whether they care about whether they're right or wrong,… Continue Reading


03.08.16

The Supreme Court's Blind Spot: Understanding How Democracies Function

by Sheldon Whitehouse

In Marbury v. Madison, the foundational case establishing judicial review and cementing the U.S. Supreme Court's role in our democracy, Chief Justice John Marshall asserted, "It is emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department to say what the law is." Unfortunately, today's group of Supreme Court justices in charge of deciding "what the law is" as to how our political system operates have no experience operating within that political system. In the wake of Justice Antonin Scalia… Continue Reading


07.30.15

Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse: Medicare, Medicaid Mark 50 Years of Success

by Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse

Fifty years ago today, President Lyndon Johnson signed into law the Social Security Act Amendments of 1965, creating a new nationwide health-care program for American seniors: Medicare. Today, Medicare continues to cover doctor's visits and hospital care for older Americans in their time of need, and has been adjusted over the years to increase access to many types of preventive care and prescription drugs. The amendments also established the Medicaid program, a joint federal-state program to p… Continue Reading


07.20.15

Whitehouse and Cardin: America must lead the climate change fight or our leadership record is toast

by Ben Cardin and Sheldon Whitehouse

The atmosphere is warming. Ice is melting. Droughts are worsening; seas are warming, rising and acidifying. We're past theory and well into measurement on those points. Pope Francis recently observed that "[n]ever have we so hurt and mistreated our common home as we have in the last 200 years." The matter of climate change is urgent, and it commands a moral dimension. The United States has an especially strong responsibility to respond to this, the moral issue of our age. We have long been view… Continue Reading


07.07.15

'Laudato Si'': A Call to Action for Congress

by Sheldon Whitehouse

As international pressure continues to mount for serious action on climate change, we should all be thankful for the thoughtful and inspiring words by Pope Francis in his recently published encyclical on the environment, "Luadato Si'." Giving voice to the moral urgency of this issue, the pope has bolstered the arguments of those who labor to wake up our nation and our world to the threats around us. The scientific community has been sounding the alarm for decades. Our most respected scientific … Continue Reading


07.06.15

Time to crack down on 'dark money'

by Sheldon Whitehouse

With an election season looming that promises to feature upwards of 20 candidates spending untold sums of cash as they vie for the White House, it's time again to take a serious look at how we can improve our broken campaign-finance system. Without serious reforms, and with so many candidates drawing support from powerful special interests, the stage is being set for a campaign that caters to the needs of everyone but the American people. How did we get to this point? Simple: Citizens United. T… Continue Reading


05.29.15

The fossil-fuel industry’s campaign to mislead the American people

by Sheldon Whitehouse

Fossil fuel companies and their allies are funding a massive and sophisticated campaign to mislead the American people about the environmental harm caused by carbon pollution. Their activities are often compared to those of Big Tobacco denying the health dangers of smoking. Big Tobacco's denial scheme was ultimately found by a federal judge to have amounted to a racketeering enterprise. The Big Tobacco playbook looked something like this: (1) pay scientists to produce studies defending your pr… Continue Reading


05.19.15

For better justice, three steps

by Sheldon Whitehouse

On the heels of the tragic events in Ferguson, Staten Island, Baltimore, and too many other communities, Americans are engaged in a renewed debate about our nation's criminal justice system. Have decades of "tough on crime" policies gone too far? Is it time to stop locking up minor offenders for extended periods of time? How can we improve trust between the police and poor, often minority, communities? These are questions worth asking. And there are clear policy responses to some of them. For i… Continue Reading

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