Speeches

10.11.18

Whitehouse Statement for the Record in Support of WRDA

The passage of the bipartisan America's Water Infrastructure Act, more commonly called the 2018 WRDA bill, is celebrated by a wide spectrum of supporters, including environmental organizations; national associations representing cities and counties; and water and coastal business associations. I would like to commend the Chairman, the Ranking Member, and the staff of the Environment and Public Works Committee for their hard work on this bill. I appreciate their consideration of my requests a… Continue Reading


10.10.18

Time To Wake Up: The Costs Don’t Lie

I am delighted to be joined today by Senator Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire. Senator Shaheen has been a tireless advocate for clean energy, and is the Senate's champion on energy efficiency, alongside Senator Portman. The UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a major warning last week. Ninety-one authors and editors from 40 countries reviewed more than 6,000 scientific papers to assess what it would take to hold global temperatures to 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustria… Continue Reading


10.06.18

Nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court

As a United States Senator and a member of the Judiciary Committee, giving careful consideration to Supreme Court nominations is among my most important responsibilities. These lifetime appointments can change not only the course of the nation, but the course of lives. I began with deep concerns about Judge Kavanaugh: his unfettered view of executive power?-?effectively believing the President is beyond the law; his refusal to commit to well-established precedents on critical issues, like women… Continue Reading


10.03.18

Time To Wake Up: Rising Tides and Coastal Risks

I am grateful to be joined today by my colleague, Senator Merkley, for my 222nd "Time to Wake Up" climate speech. Though thousands of miles apart on the West and East costs, Oregon and Rhode Island share a common connection: our oceans. Fisheries and coastal tourism are major drivers of our economies. Our coastlines are filled with homes, families, and businesses. So we're here to talk about the challenges of human-driven climate change for our oceans and coasts: sea level rise, ocean acidif… Continue Reading


09.18.18

Time To Wake Up: California Summit & Carbon Fee

As I rise on the occasion of my 220th "Time To Wake Up" climate speech, there's plenty of evidence that the possibility of meaningful action on climate change in the United States is perilously low. We have a president who - against all the evidence - claims that climate change is a Chinese hoax. This same president announced last year that he was pulling the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement. He installed the theatrically corrupt Scott Pruitt, who owed his entire political career to the fossi… Continue Reading


09.12.18

Time To Wake Up: The Booming Renewables Sector

I am delighted to be joined today by my colleague Senator Tina Smith of Minnesota. Both my home state of Rhode Island and her state of Minnesota are heavily involved in the booming renewable energy sector. President Trump has called climate change a hoax. But no matter how much his administration may try to prop up the fossil fuel industry, there's no denying the clean energy revolution unfolding across the country. The rapid growth of renewables has been underway for decades, but the tran… Continue Reading


09.04.18

Time To Wake Up: Around the Warming World

I'm grateful to my colleague from New Mexico for joining me today for my 218th "Time to Wake Up" speech. Senator Udall is a formidable advocate for conserving our public lands and protecting endangered species¾helping ensure future generations will inherit a healthy and beautiful planet. These lands and creatures are under direct attack from the current administration (and the heavy hand of industry that guides it) through regulatory rollbacks and other efforts to weaken protections fo… Continue Reading


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

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