December 9, 2014

Van Hollen to Serve as New Co-Chair of Bicameral Task Force on Climate Change

Washington, DC – Last year, Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-CA) and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) founded the Bicameral Task Force on Climate Change, and have served as the group’s lead co-chairs – organizing policy discussions, holding public events, and releasing white papers outlining policy options for the Executive Branch.  Now, with Rep. Waxman retiring at the end of this Congress, he and Sen. Whitehouse today announced that Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) will be joining the Task Force as its new lead co-chair in the House of Representatives.

“Chris Van Hollen will be an outstanding leader of the Task Force,” said Rep. Waxman.  “He is one of the most effective and hardest working members in Congress.  The task force will take a strong leadership role on climate change with Chris joining Senator Whitehouse, Senator Markey, and Senator Cardin in the Senate and Congressman Rush and Congressman Blumenauer in the House.”

“Henry Waxman is one of the most forceful advocates for progressive causes our nation has ever known, and working with him to push for action on climate change has been one of the great honors of my time in the Senate,” said Whitehouse.  “While we will miss Henry’s leadership in Congress, I can’t imagine a better partner to carry on his climate legacy in the House than Chris Van Hollen.  I look forward to working with him and all of our colleagues on the Task Force to bring more attention to the climate threat and develop effective policy solutions.”

“Combating climate change is a national security, environmental, and moral battle, and out of this great challenge comes great economic opportunity for the United States if we lead the charge,” said Congressman Van Hollen.  “Henry Waxman has been a champion of the environment and public health for his entire career and no one can fill his shoes alone, but I look forward to working with Sheldon Whitehouse and our co-chairs to build on the great work he’s done to elevate the climate threat as a national priority and turn the tide on one of humanity’s greatest collective challenges.”

In addition to Whitehouse and Van Hollen, Sen. Ben Cardin, Sen. Ed Markey, Rep. Bobby L. Rush, and Rep. Earl Blumenauer will continue to serve as Task Force co-chairs in the new Congress. 

“Henry Waxman has been a close friend and colleague for many years and it has been a privilege to work side-by-side with him in our effort to address the threats of climate change,” said Cardin.  “Chris Van Hollen understands that science-driven policy to address climate change is essential.  As Marylanders, we see the threats climate change pose to our state where 70 percent of residents live within coastal areas and the prospect of sea level rise and intense storms pose a serious risk.  Chris has demonstrated his leadership on this issue by proposing cap and dividend legislation, as well as a strong track record working to restore the health of the Chesapeake Bay.  I look forward to our work together on the Task Force.”

“I fought alongside Henry Waxman for decades, and his record on the environment is unmatched,” said Markey. “Chris Van Hollen is a budget whiz, so he recognizes when the numbers aren’t right. That’s why his voice in this climate fight, when pollution levels and temperatures continue to rise, is so credible and important. Representative Van Hollen knows our planet is in the red, and it’s going to take a huge effort in Congress to fight back against the polluting interests who block climate change action.” 

“Congressman Waxman has been a tireless champion for the environment and for combating climate change,” said Blumenauer.  “It’s been a pleasure to work with him and he be missed in his role as a fellow co-chair on the Bicameral Task Force on Climate Change.  Congressman Van Hollen is a wonderful choice to fill this spot, and I look forward to working with him in this capacity to build awareness and advocate for solutions to one of the most pressing challenges of our time.”

Over the past two years the Task Force has hosted a series of roundtable discussions highlighting the effects of climate change on different communities and the work professional sports leagues, major corporations, our nation’s military, and others are doing to address these threats.  The Task Force has also released two white papers recommending specific steps the Departments of Energy and Interior can take in carrying out the President’s Climate Action Plan.  The group will continue to carry out similar activities in the new Congress.


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