Whitehouse, Cartwright Introduce Bill to Protect Natural Resources from Climate Change
Washington, DC – Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Representative Matt Cartwright (D-PA) introduced a bill today to protect the country’s wildlife and natural resources from climate change. Building on existing federal, state, and local efforts, Whitehouse and Cartwright’s Safeguarding America’s Future and Environment (SAFE) Act would establish an integrated national approach to ongoing and expected effects of extreme weather and climate change.
“Responsible management of natural resources underpins economic opportunity and quality of life for all our communities. In Rhode Island, we know how important it is to safeguard natural treasures like Narragansett Bay and our beautiful coastline, which drive our economy and make our state a wonderful place to live,” said Senator Whitehouse. “This bill would establish a nationwide strategy to build on the good work Rhode Islanders and Americans everywhere are doing to protect their environment from climate change and prepare for what’s to come.”
“Climate change poses an immediate and long-term threat to the natural resources and environmental landscape that so many local communities depend on. Preparing for climate change will reduce long-term costs and protect our nation’s natural resources for future generations,” said Representative Cartwright, vice-chair of the Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition (SEEC). “This bill will develop a climate change adaption plan to protect our lands and waters, such as the Delaware River and Pocono Mountains. I look forward to working with Senator Whitehouse on this vital legislation.”
The SAFE Act would require federal natural resource agencies to form an interagency working group to plan and implement a long-term national climate change adaptation strategy based on the best available science. State, local, and tribal governments, as well as nongovernmental organizations, academic institutions, and private sector representatives would be called upon to lend their expertise to the working group. The legislation would require agencies to work together to identify and prioritize specific conservation and management strategies and actions to respond to extreme weather and climate change. It would also encourage the development of state-specific adaptation plans.
This national strategy would guide federal adaptation plans and reduce redundancy and costs. The SAFE Act would also create the National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center, to develop and compile scientific information on climate variability.
“This last year we witnessed widespread destruction of habitats by catastrophic fires, floods, and hurricanes that were worsened by our warming climate,” said Jamie Rappaport Clark, president and CEO of Defenders of Wildlife. “We need to prepare for the real impacts of climate change, and the SAFE Act provides a roadmap to conserve our irreplaceable natural resources in the face of these threats. As the Trump administration actively seeks to undo the progress we’ve made on climate change, Senator Whitehouse and Representative Cartwright are showing real and much needed leadership on one of today’s most important issues. We need to manage our forests, waters, and wetlands to withstand the onslaught of a warming planet.”
Organizations that have endorsed this legislation include Defenders of Wildlife, Rocky Mountain Wild, the Winter Wildlands Alliance, American Rivers, the National Wildlife Federation, Conservation Northwest, the American Society of Landscape Architects, the Climate Resilience Fund, and the Wildlife Society.
Cosponsors of the bill include Senators Tom Carper (D-DE), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Representatives Nanette Barragán (D-CA), Gerry Connolly (D-VA), Keith Ellison (D-MN), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Jared Huffman (D-CA), Ro Khanna (D-CA), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), Jerry McNerney (D-CA), Jimmy Panetta (D-CA), Mark Pocan (D-WI), Jared Polis (D-CO), Mike Quigley (D-IL), Louise Slaughter (D-NY), Paul Tonko (D-NY), Nikki Tsongas (D-MA), Marc Veasey (D-TX), Tim Walz (D-MN), Dwight Evans (D-PA), Jim McGovern (D-MA), and Colleen Hanabusa (D-HI).
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