Speeches

10.03.17

Time to Wake Up - Our Oceans

Mr. President, this week on an island nation one tenth the size of Rhode Island, more than 60 countries will gather at the fourth international Our Ocean Conference. Catalyzed by then-Secretary of State John Kerry, the United States hosted the premier international ocean conference in 2014 and 2016. Secretary Kerry's legacy continues with the Malta Conference now going on, hosted by the European Union, and that will be followed by scheduled conferences in Indonesia in 2018 and Norway in 2019. N… Continue Reading


09.27.17

Time To Wake Up: Rhode Island’s Teachers Teach Climate Change and the Dishonest Heartland Institute

Mr. President, I have spoken before, as you know, about the fossil fuel industry's persistent effort to undermine public understanding of climate change and to confuse people about the actual effects of carbon pollution on our atmosphere and oceans. I have mentioned Drexel University Professor Robert Brulles' follow-themoney analysis, which reveals the complex network of organizations and funding-what we have called the web of denial-that is designed to obscure the fossil fuel industry's fingerp… Continue Reading


09.19.17

Time to Wake Up: The Social Cost of Carbon

Mr. President, each week that you see me standing here means another week in which the Senate of the United States has sat out doing anything to address climate change and another week of carbon pollution streaming into our atmosphere and oceans. Carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels is changing our atmosphere and our oceans. We see it everywhere. We see it in storm-damaged homes and flooded cities. We see it in drought-stricken farms and raging wildfires. We see it in fish disappearing from… Continue Reading


09.13.17

Time to Wake Up: National Security Implications of Climate Change

Mr. President, as the Senate considers the annual authorization of our military and national defense programs, I am here for my 178th "Time to Wake Up" speech, to discuss the security risks climate change presents to our Nation. I urge my colleagues to heed the warnings from our national security experts, not just the self-serving propaganda of the fossil fuel industry that blankets us. What are these national security risks? A first order of security risk is the physical damage climate change… Continue Reading


09.07.17

Time to Wake Up: While We Were Out

Mr. President, I am here to deliver my ''Time to Wake Up'' speech, which I do every week that the Senate is in session. We have been out of session for a few weeks, so there is a fair amount to talk about that happened while we were gone. One of the first things was a new study in my home State of Rhode Island. Rhode Island is a coastal State. We have considerable worries about sea level rise, and we have a State Coastal Resources Management Council that has done what is probably the best model… Continue Reading


07.26.17

Time to Wake Up: The American Opportunity Carbon Fee Act of 2017

Thank you and good afternoon. I appreciate your accommodating our schedule. As you know, we have some rather consequential votes happening in the Senate this afternoon. I am truly delighted that the American Enterprise Institute has once again launched the American Opportunity Carbon Fee Act. I thank my partner in this effort, Senator Brian Schatz of Hawaii, and thank you to the staff of the American Enterprise Institute, and to Dr. Aparna Mathur and the panelists for being here to discuss our … Continue Reading


07.20.17

Time to Wake Up: The Chamber’s Untenable Climate Position

Mr. President, to the disappointment of the American public, the world scientific community, and even to corporate giants like Goldman Sachs and Cargill, President Trump recently decided to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement, citing as justification a slew of "alternative facts." Some of the most egregious "alternative facts" came from a National Economic Resource Associates report, commissioned and promoted by a group that calls itself the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, but fronts … Continue Reading


07.12.17

Time to Wake Up: CCUS, Carbon Fee, and Miners

Mr. President, there was an interesting press conference earlier today in which I joined with Senator Heitkamp, Senator Capito, and Senator Barrasso on a common piece of legislation that will help address climate change. That does not happen often, so it was a good sign. This is not a comprehensive solution. It may not even make much of a measurable difference, but it will make some difference. It will help drive America's technological edge, and it will help, as it gets implemented, reduce our… Continue Reading


06.27.17

Time to Wake Up: Climate Change Affects Public Health

Mr. President, I am back for my weekly "Time to Wake Up" speech, which, given the theme of the week in Washington, it is going to focus on the health consequences of what is going on in climate change. It is timely to do so because just recently the National Weather Service issued an excessive heat warning for the Southwestern United States. In California, San Diego County set a record at--hang on--124 degrees. As a result of this heat, the National Weather Service warned of "a major increase in… Continue Reading


06.21.17

Time to Wake Up: The Dark Money Weaponry

Mr. President, I come weekly to the Senate whenever we are in session to give my "Time to Wake Up" speech, talking about climate change and, quite often, talking about the climate denial campaign that prevents us from taking action and, quite often, talking about the campaign finance problems in our country that make climate denial effective. Here, in Congress, it is not hard to connect the dots from campaign finance to climate denial. The Supreme Court's Republican majority's disastrous Citize… Continue Reading


06.14.17

Transparency, Corruption, and Russian Meddling

I appreciate my colleague's sense of humor. Madam President, the United States of America has suffered an unprecedented intrusion into our American Presidential elections. In January, our intelligence agencies disclosed that agents of Russia, on the orders of President Vladimir Putin, engaged in a massive election influence campaign throughout 2016. This effort strikes at the very heart of our representative democracy. All Americans should take this attack deadly seriously. Congress had to act… Continue Reading


06.13.17

Time to Wake Up: Fall is Coming

Mr. President, however loud, persistent, and powerful the climate denial operation has been, we have to remember that it has always been built on lies. It is a huge fortress of lies stacked upon lies. Lies about the science, lies about the scientists, lies about doubt, lies about costs, lies through phony front groups, and lies about where the money comes from and who is pulling the strings. This fortress of lies protects a subsidy to the fossil fuel industry that the International Monetary Fu… Continue Reading


06.07.17

Time to Wake Up: May Day Parade

Mr. President, Donald Trump has decided to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement on climate change. This is a decision that may prove to be one of the worst foreign policy blunders in our Nation's history. There is no denying the mounting threat of climate change. We observe rising seas, warming global temperatures, and melting glaciers and ice sheets. Yet the President cast aside a historic global agreement forged through American leadership. Americans now ask what to do next. F… Continue Reading


06.07.17

Gaspee Days 2017

Madam President, I come to the Senate floor every year around this time to discuss an important incident in the history of Rhode Island largely overlooked in the history books, certainly overlooked in consequence to its importance. We have to understand that we Rhode Islanders have always had a pretty fierce independent streak. The Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations was founded by Roger Williams and others fleeing the harsh ideological conformity of the Massachusetts theocracy. O… Continue Reading


05.23.17

Time to Wake Up: The Engine for Pruitt's Advancement

Mr. President, I am here to discuss what you might call the Scott Pruitt philosophy of environmental regulation. In a recent interview, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency expressed his view that the EPA should "simply pass regulations that provide fairness and equity and allow utilities to make decisions based upon stability, cost, and security to the consumers that they serve." Did we notice anything missing in that assertion of what EPA's role should be? How about no men… Continue Reading


05.16.17

Time to Wake Up: Climate denial was the original fake news

Mr. President, as we know here in Washington, politics is a battlefield as much as it is a debating society. On this battlefield, a new form of political weapon has emerged, one for which the American political system was not well prepared. As Democrats, I can say from our side, we were virtually blind to this weapon in the last election. For my 167th "Time to Wake Up" speech, I am here to discuss this new political weapon: systematic fake news. Fake news does not just fall like rain from heave… Continue Reading


05.10.17

Time to Wake Up: RI Archipelago

Mr. President, it is perhaps a providential happenstance that I should be giving this particular speech while the Senator from Louisiana is presiding because we are both from coastal States. I am sure he will find things that are familiar in my Rhode Island remarks, particularly given that his Governor has declared the Louisiana coast a state of emergency due to sea level rise. As the Presiding Officer knows, one place where the effects of climate change are most evident is in our oceans and al… Continue Reading


05.03.17

Time to Wake Up: Moving on Climate Change Without Trump

Mr. President, the last two weekends have surged with political activism. Around the world, millions of people took to the streets to stand up for science and to call attention to the global crisis of climate change. This past weekend, my wife and I marched here in Washington, alongside 200,000 people from across our country in the People's Climate March. I joined faculty and students from Rhode Island's Greene School, an environmental charter school named after the great Nathanael Greene. The … Continue Reading


04.20.17

Time to Wake Up: Climate Change and Agriculture

Mr. President, on Monday night, this chamber confirmed former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue to be President Trump's Secretary of Agriculture. I am here for my 164th "Time to Wake Up" speech to urge Secretary Perdue to listen to his agency, to scientific researchers in farm states across the country, to our major food and agricultural producers, and to farmers, fishermen, ranchers, and foresters about the serious and growing effects of climate change. Carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels i… Continue Reading


04.05.17

Time to Wake Up: President Trump's Climate Executive Order and Polling

Mr. President, this is my 163rd "Time to Wake Up" speech. I persist in the hope that one day these little water drops will ultimately cut through the stone of fossil fuel intransigence. Last week our new President, Donald Trump, announced an Executive order aiming to wipe out many of his predecessors' climate change measures. So I would like to take some time this evening to examine his Executive order--which is, in many respects, a sham--and show how very far away it is from the actual wishes o… Continue Reading

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