Speeches

09.15.16

Time to Wake Up: Reaction to the Web of Denial

Mr. President, as the Senate reconvenes after several weeks of work in our home States, I am back for the 145th time asking my colleagues to wake up to the pressing reality of climate change. We are sleepwalking through this moment, willfully ignoring the warning signs of an already altered Earth, largely because of a decades-long corporate campaign of misinformation on the dangers of carbon pollution. Just last week, while we were back home, scientists at the International Geological Congress … Continue Reading


09.14.16

Time to Wake Up: Climate Change in Utah

Mr. President, I am here for the 146th time to wake this Chamber up to the consequence of climate change. The leading edge of consequence is already upon us, and it is threatening the people and economies of all 50 States. Because of the dark influence of the fossil fuel industry, we can't have an honest, bipartisan conversation here in the Senate about climate change. So I travel. I have been to 13 States. Last month, I visited Utah and met with local business, policy, and science leaders to le… Continue Reading


07.06.16

Time to Wake Up: The Denial Apparatus

Mr. President, I am here for the 143rd time now to urge Congress to wake up to the damage that carbon pollution is inflicting on our atmosphere and oceans and to make a record for when people look back at this time and at this place and wonder why Congress was so unresponsive in the face of all of the information. What are we up against that has prevented progress? What we are up against is a many-tentacled, industry-controlled apparatus that is deliberately polluting our discourse in this Nati… Continue Reading


06.21.16

Time to Wake Up: We the People

Mr. President, I am here for the 141st time to urge my colleagues to wake up, in this case more specifically to the political influence, particularly the dark money that perpetuates the climate blockade in Congress. In 1831, Alexis de Tocqueville traveled the United States to write his famous Democracy in America. De Tocqueville described our American style of government as "quite exceptional." He wrote about it with affection and with fascination. He may have been the first American exceptiona… Continue Reading


06.14.16

Time to Wake Up: Chafee Hearings, Climate Change, and Trump

Mr. President, in a Chamber where the debate on climate change has become woefully one-sided and in a Congress where House Republicans just voted unanimously to oppose the only climate solution Republicans have come to, I want to use my 140th climate speech to remind us of a time when global warming concerns came from both sides of the aisle. Nearly 30 years ago this week, a Republican chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Environmental Pollution, who also served twic… Continue Reading


06.09.16

Gaspee Days

I rise as I do every year in the Senate to commemorate the anniversary of a brave blow Rhode Island struck for liberty and justice: The Gaspee Affair of 1772. On the night of June 9, into the morning of June 10, 1772, in the waters off Rhode Island, a band of American patriots pushed back against their British overlords-and drew the first blood of the struggle that would become the American Revolution. American school children learn in the history books of the Boston revelers who painted their… Continue Reading


06.07.16

Time to Wake Up: Climate Change is Causing Extreme Weather Events

Mr. President, I am really grateful to the junior Senator from Delaware for inviting me to his home State and for joining me here today for my "Time to Wake Up" speech No. 139. Senator Coons and I spent a terrific day touring the Delaware shore. You can say whatever you want about us, but on that day we were the two wettest Members of the U.S. Senate. I can assure you of that. This is Capitol Hill Ocean Week, and Wednesday is World Oceans Day, so it is a good time to consider the effects of gl… Continue Reading


04.26.16

Time to Wake Up: Coral Reefs and Ocean Acidification

Mr. President, today is the 135th time I have come to give voice to the issue that I feel will most significantly define this generation of leadership in the United States and, frankly, around the globe. I know that there are many people in Washington who would prefer to ignore what our carbon emissions are doing to our oceans and to our climate, but we disregard nature's warnings at our peril. The changes to our environment, fueled by our carbon pollution, are far-reaching--from the coastline… Continue Reading


04.14.16

Time to Wake Up: Saying One Thing and Doing Another

Mr. President, this is the 133rd climate speech that I have delivered, and it has been an amazing week. On Saturday, the New York Times posted its cover story about dying coral reefs in our oceans. On Sunday, the cover story in the Providence Journal was about drowning salt marshes in Rhode Island. Both are the handiwork of climate change. Even more amazing, listen to what a Koch brother's operative said last week: "Charles has said the climate is changing. So, the climate is changing." That wa… Continue Reading


04.06.16

Time to Wake Up: Why Don’t We Care?

Mr. President, I am here for my 132nd "Time to Wake Up" speech. We are now back from recess, and while we were away, one little thing and three really big things happened. The little thing has to do with the so-called war on coal which we have heard so much nonsense about in this Chamber. There was this article, which I am showing on this chart, saying: "Natural gas has been waging a war on coal for more than a decade, and this is the year it plants the flag." Natural gas has been waging a war… Continue Reading


03.17.16

A Case for Optimism on Climate Change

Madam President, I come to this Chamber for the 131st time to urge this body to break free and wake up to what carbon pollution is doing to our atmosphere and our oceans. Last week, scientists at NOAA reported that carbon dioxide levels at their Mauna Loa Observatory jumped in 2015 by the largest year-to-year increase in 56 years of research. Pieter Tans, lead scientist at NOAA, said, "Carbon dioxide levels are increasing faster than they have in hundreds of thousands of years. It's explosive c… Continue Reading


03.08.16

Sen. Whitehouse Discusses the Bipartisan CARA Act on the Senate Floor

Mr. President, no one appears to be seeking the floor right now, so I will take the opportunity to speak about our CARA legislation. Since the Senator from Ohio, who has been my partner in this, is now presiding, this is an opportune time to give some remarks. I think like many States, just from the remarks we heard on the floor already, it is not unusual to have a terrible toll at home from opioid abuse and from overdoses. In 2014, 239 Rhode Islanders lost their lives to overdoses. That is mor… Continue Reading


03.01.16

Time to Wake Up: Climate Science Denial Continues

Mr. President, as the Presiding Officer knows, this is my 129th "Time to Wake Up" speech to my colleagues about the serious threat of carbon pollution and our responsibility as Senators to heed that threat and to take steps to soften the blow of climate change. With each passing week, the evidence of climate change continues to mount and public understanding of the stakes of the climate crisis continues to grow. Worldwide, 2015 was the hottest year since we began keeping records back in 1880, a… Continue Reading


02.24.16

On the Nomination of a Justice to the Supreme Court

Mr. President, we are here on this conflict we have over a Supreme Court nominee, which has turned into a considerable, unprecedented fuss, I believe, for a fairly simple reason. The elephant, so to speak, in the room is that the Court has become a political actor under Chief Justice Roberts. The rightwing bloc on the Court delivered politically because it had a 5-to-4 majority. Now their rightwing majority is gone, and Republicans are predictably upset. Justice Frankfurter admonished that "it … Continue Reading


02.23.16

Time to Wake Up: Ocean Acidification and New England’s Marine Life

Mr. President, I am here now for the 128th time to urge that we wake up to the ugly changes that carbon pollution is wreaking on our climate. It is happening all around us, and it is happening right now, not in some far-off future. As humans we are terrestrial beings. We live on the land. So naturally we pay more attention to the experience where we live--things such as increasing average temperatures on the land and changes in extreme weather when it hits the land. We don't so much pay attenti… Continue Reading


02.09.16

Time to Wake Up: Dark Money and Climate Denial

Madam President, investigative author Jane Mayer has written an important piece of journalism--her new book, "Dark Money"--about the secret but massive influence-buying rightwing billionaires led by the infamous Koch brothers. Jane Mayer's book catalogs the rise and the expansion into a vast array of front groups of this operation and the role in it of two of America's more shameless villains: Charles and David Koch. Some have called this beast they have created the "Kochtopus" because it has so… Continue Reading


02.03.16

Time to Wake Up: Energy Bill, Take Two

Mr. President, the Senate is still at work crafting a package of energy legislation that can earn the support of a broad majority and potentially become this body's first comprehensive energy efficiency legislation since 2007. This is my 126th weekly call to arms to wake us up to the duty we owe our constituents and future generations of Americans, not only to unleash the clean energy solutions that will propel our economy forward but also to stave off the devastating effects of carbon pollutio… Continue Reading


01.27.16

Time to Wake Up: Moving Toward a Clean-Energy Economy

Mr. President, today marks the 125th time I have come to the Senate floor to ask this body to wake up to the threats of climate change. This week is a little different because we are currently debating the bipartisan Energy Policy Modernization Act. The bill was crafted by my colleagues, Senators Murkowski and Cantwell, and it may become our first comprehensive energy efficiency legislation since 2007. While the base bill is a good start, we have much work to do before we come anywhere near mee… Continue Reading


01.20.16

Time to Wake Up: Climate Change in Texas

Mr. President, I rise for "Time to Wake Up" speech number 124. Today, let's talk Texas. Polling from the University of Texas at Austin shows that more than three out of four Americans--or 76 percent--now believe that climate change is occurring. Fifty-nine percent of Republicans say it is happening. While most poll respondents say they would support a Presidential candidate who supports reducing coal as an energy source, the number goes up to 65 percent for voters under the age of 35. So, we m… Continue Reading


01.13.16

Time to Wake Up: 2015 Climate Action

Happy New Year. Nothing says "Happy New Year" like the "Time to Wake Up" speech, so I will kick off 2016 with my year-opener "Time to Wake Up" speech recapping some of last year's climate change milestones. They say you only get one chance to make a first impression, and the first impression Senate Republicans chose to make in 2015 was to use their first 3 weeks of floor time--3 full weeks of precious floor time--to help a foreign oil company's tar sands pipeline. Even though it meant the gover… Continue Reading

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