June 15, 2016

Whitehouse Salutes Environmental Legacy of Late Rhode Island Senator John Chafee

140th weekly climate speech urges bipartisan action on climate change

Washington, DC – Senator Sheldon Whitehouse today took to the floor of the United States Senate to pay tribute to the environmental legacy of John Chafee, the late Republican senator from Rhode Island.  In Whitehouse’s 140th weekly speech on climate change, delivered thirty years after Chafee held historic Senate hearings on global warming, he commended the late Senator’s bipartisan work and foresight on the issue.

In June 1986, as Republican Chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Environmental Pollution, Senator John Chafee convened a two-day, five-panel hearing on ozone depletion, the Greenhouse Effect, and climate change.  Chafee’s opening remarks warned of “the buildup of greenhouse gases, which threaten to warm the Earth to unprecedented levels.”

“Even with thirty more years of solid science buttressing it, many in the present-day GOP deny that basic understanding, and ignore the mainstream climate science that underpins it,” said Whitehouse in his speech.  “A few Republicans in Congress are now so bold as to accept mainstream, established science, as it is taught in their home state universities, accepted by all our national science agencies and laboratories, and warned of by our military services.  But none will yet act on that understanding.”

Whitehouse also invoked Senator Chafee’s words of optimism from three decades ago: “It seems that the problems man creates for our planet are never ending.  But we have found solutions for prior difficulties, and we will for these as well.  What is required is for all of us to do a better job of anticipating and responding to today’s new environmental warnings before they become tomorrow’s environmental tragedies.”

Watch a video of the full speech here.


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