Speeches

08.22.18

Time To Wake Up: The Economic Case for Climate Action

I am grateful to join my colleague Senator Warren today to discuss the financial and economic risks posed by climate change. You just heard her lay out a powerful case. Given the gravity of these risks, and our recent experience of the 2008 financial crisis, we should be doing everything we can to prevent another economic meltdown. We know exactly what we need to do to mitigate these economic threats. We need to transition from polluting fossil fuels to clean renewable energy. And we can do … Continue Reading


08.16.18

Time To Wake Up: Wildfires Are Getting Wilder

I'm pleased to be here today with my colleague from Oregon, Senator Wyden, to address some of the devastating effects of a changing global climate, from the shores of Narragansett Bay to the forests of Southern Oregon. Rhode Island is looking at losing significant territory to storms and sea level rise; Oregon is seeing ancient forests go up in smoke. For most of the country, this summer has been a scorcher: July was nearly 2 degrees Fahrenheit above average. Before that, the contiguous U.S.… Continue Reading


07.24.18

Time To Wake Up: The Wall Street Journal and the Playbook Reboot

Mr. President, I'm here today for the 214th time to urge that we wake up to the effects of carbon pollution on the Earth's oceans and climate. An obstacle to action on the threat that we face from climate change, however, is the manufactured doubt that so often surrounds this issue. We find this manufactured doubt, a fossil fuel industry product, flowing even from the editorial page of one of our nation's leading publications, The Wall Street Journal. Whenever the issue is harmful industrial… Continue Reading


07.18.18

Time To Wake Up: Changing Seas, Shifting Stocks

Today I'm grateful to be joined by Senator King to speak about the troubling changes we're seeing in the oceans, and how climate change is reshaping our fisheries. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations recognizes that "[c]limate change imperils the structure and function of already stressed coastal aquatic ecosystems," and Maine and Rhode Island are aquatic. The oceans have absorbed approximately 30 percent of the excess carbon dioxide that we have added to the atmosphere… Continue Reading


07.12.18

Time to Wake Up: Crash Conditions

Mr. President, I spoke before the Fourth of July recess about two financial risks that are coming our way thanks to not getting anything done on climate change. One, of course, is the risk to coastal properties--not something the Presiding Officer has to worry too much about given his home State but something that Rhode Island, the Ocean State, has to care a lot about and that the distinguished Senator from Florida and his constituents have to care a lot about. There is a point where rising se… Continue Reading


07.11.18

Whitehouse Floor Remarks on Benczkowski

Mr. President, this past year and half of the Trump administration has been a constant, daily barrage of scandal, corruption, and chaotic incompetence. In this environment, the Senate now considers the President's controversial nomination of Brian Benczkowski to lead the Criminal Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. It has been over a year since Benczkowski was first nominated, and there have been repeated calls for his nomination to be withdrawn. Why this man, for this job, at this time… Continue Reading


06.26.18

Time To Wake Up: The (Not So) Great Deregulator

Mr. President, as I rise for my 209th "Time To Wake Up" climate change speech, I return to a familiar subject: disgraced Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt. Not that long ago, I was here discussing the baker's dozen of ethical scandals swirling around Pruitt. From his $43,000 "cone of silence" phone booth, to the millions he's spent on a 20-person security detail, to his lights-and-sirens escapades to fancy D.C. restaurant Le Diplomate, Pruitt has come to personify the … Continue Reading


06.20.18

Time to Wake Up: DISCLOSE

Mr. President, as 2010 dawned, in what now seems like another era of political time, the U.S. Congress was poised to tackle the problem of climate change. The House of Representatives had just passed a cap-and-trade bill, and there was bipartisan support for climate action in the Senate. Then, on January 21--a date that ought to live in judicial infamy--five Justices on the U.S. Supreme Court--all Republican appointees--delivered Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission and unleashed unlim… Continue Reading


06.12.18

Time to Wake Up: Two Crashes

Mr. WHITEHOUSE. Mr. President, a crash takes place in a system when conditions in that system reach a tipping point and the system rapidly destabilizes. Climate change promises a lot of tipping points in the Earth's natural systems-ocean acidification, for instance, reaching a tipping point where foundational species, such as the pteropod, have trouble forming their shells, and populations of those foundation species crash, taking down the trophic levels above them; polar warming, for instance,… Continue Reading


06.05.18

Time to Wake Up: The Polar Distress

Mr. President, 30 years ago this month, Dr. James Hansen testified before the U.S. Congress on the need to address climate change--30 years ago this month. He was a top NASA climate scientist. On a hot summer day in June of 1988, before the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, Dr. Hansen testified that ``global warming has reached a level such that we can ascribe with a high degree of confidence a cause and effect relationship between the greenhouse effect and observed warming.… Continue Reading


06.04.18

Gaspee Days 2018

Madam President, the night spanning June 9 and 10 marks the anniversary of a key chapter in American history-one whose first shots spurred our Nation on toward independence from Britain, yet one that remains unfamiliar to most Americans today, which is why I come here each year to tell the tale of the Gaspee Raiders. I encourage my colleagues and all students of history to explore this chapter in more depth, in histories such as ''An Empire on the Edge'' by Nick Bunker or ''The Burning of Her M… Continue Reading


05.23.18

Time to Wake Up: Exxon Climate Report

Mr. President, in this, my 20th speech about the climate changes and ocean changes being driven by fossil fuels, I would like to discuss America's largest oil company, ExxonMobil. For decades, ExxonMobil did everything in its power to deceive the American public about the existence and causes of climate change. I believe that full transparency would show ExxonMobil and its agents still obstructing efforts here in Washington to resolve the climate crisis, but I want to focus on one particular au… Continue Reading


05.16.18

Time to Wake Up: Cheapening by the Dozen

Mr. President, I am here today for my 206th ''Time to Wake Up'' speech. For colleagues who may be having a hard time keeping up with the ethical scandals swirling around Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, I thought today I would lay them out one by one. I think we all heard Donald Trump's pledge to drain the swamp and to put an end to government corruption. That hasn't exactly worked out; has it? Instead, swamp creatures abound, and Pruitt, a longtime enemy of the Agenc… Continue Reading


05.08.18

Time to Wake Up: The Great Barren Reef

Mr. WHITEHOUSE. Mr. President, situated off the northeast corner of Australia lies one of the seven natural wonders of the world, a wonder that is visible from space-the Great Barrier Reef. Each year, around 2 million visitors come from around the globe to experience the Great Barrier Reef. They come to see hundreds of species of sharks, dolphins, fish, mollusks, whales, seabirds, and other marine life thriving in nearly 133,000 square miles of coral reef. Some of these coral structures are thou… Continue Reading


04.23.18

Time to Wake Up: Web of Deceit

Mr. WHITEHOUSE. Mr. President, I thank Senator Durbin, who is a leader in our caucus, but also a very important leader on these issues. We are here this evening because a group of us now embark on a series of speeches on the Senate floor to shine some light into a network of phony front groups--a web of deceit conceived and bankrolled by the Koch brothers and other self-interested billionaires to advocate for very selfish and unpatriotic policies. This web of deceit has infiltrated and populate… Continue Reading


04.18.18

Time to Wake Up: Rhode Island Department of Health

Mr. President, when we think about climate change- something we don't do much of in this body-we often think about rising global temperatures and heat waves, and we think of changing weather patterns, stronger storms, or sea level rise threatening coastal communities. We actually see these effects unfold across the United States and around the world as heat records fall, winters shrink, and waters creep ever higher along our coastlines. We also see the economic consequences of climate change. J… Continue Reading


04.10.18

Time to Wake Up: Climate Denial

Mr. President, I am here on the floor for my 202nd ''Time to Wake Up'' speech. I would like to begin by thanking this body for the passing of the National Oceans and Coastal Security Fund as part of the measure that Republicans and Democrats agreed to before the recent recess. The Presiding Officer obviously represents an extremely coastal State. I represent Rhode Island, a very coastal State. This new program will provide resources for the communities along our shores to be able to deal with th… Continue Reading


03.20.18

Time to Wake Up: Climate Progress

Mr. President, we are more aware than ever of the accelerating pace of climate change and of the serious threat that rising seas, higher temperatures, and changing weather poses. I suppose I don't need to lecture the Presiding Officer from Florida on the threat of rising seas. The real-time effects of climate change are becoming clearer and clearer every year. Here is a telling example unfolding right now in the Arctic. In this graphic, we see the mean area of Arctic sea ice over the last seve… Continue Reading


02.27.18

Time to Wake Up: American Petroleum Institute

Mr. President, I am here for my 198th ''Time to Wake Up'' speech with my increasingly dogeared and beaten chart. My last two speeches focused on, shall we say, the peculiar role two of this country's largest trade associations play on climate change. They have dozens and dozens of member companies that support action on climate change. Renewable energy now provides more jobs than fossil fuels and lots of American manufacturing. Yet the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Ma… Continue Reading


02.13.18

Time to Wake Up: National Association of Manufacturers

Mr. President, I am here for my 197th ''Time to Wake Up'' speech. My poster board is getting a little dog-eared, but we keep moving doggedly along. Last week, I spoke about corporate America outsourcing its lobbying to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce-a determined enemy of any action on climate change. When pro-climate companies support the chamber, they support its anti-climate lobbying, its anti-climate election spending and threatening, and they enable the chamber's anti-climate stranglehold wit… Continue Reading

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