Speeches

06.10.15

Sen. Whitehouse Unveils Proposed Carbon Fee Bill at American Enterprise Institute

Thank you Arthur [Brooks] and thanks to the American Enterprise Institute for hosting this event. I am excited to introduce today the American Opportunity Carbon Fee Act of 2015, and I look forward to a productive discussion of its merits. Thanks also to Jerry Taylor and Benjamin Zycher for participating in the conversation that will follow my remarks and for offering your input on my bill. And thank you to Senator Brian Schatz of Hawaii, my lead cosponsor of this bill, who will be here to sp… Continue Reading


06.02.15

Time to Wake Up: Conservative Support for Carbon Fee

Madam President, today I am here for the 101st time to urge this body to wake up to the threat of climate change. It is real, it is caused by carbon pollution, and it is dangerous. There is a legislative answer to this problem that my Republican colleagues should consider, and that is a carbon fee. The unpleasant fact here in Congress presently, anyway, is that Congress is ruled by the lobbyists and the political enforcers for the fossil fuel industry. But outside this Chamber, where the fossi… Continue Reading


05.18.15

Time to Wake Up: 100 Speeches, 100 Reasons to Act on Climate

Mr. President, April 18, 2012, was not the first time I spoke on the Senate floor on the dangers of carbon pollution, but it was the first in the weekly series that brings me here today with my increasingly dog-eared sign. Opponents of responsible climate action do best in the dark, so I knew if anything was going to change around here, we would need to shine some light on the facts, on the science, and on the sophisticated scheme of denial being conducted by the polluters. I decided to come t… Continue Reading


05.13.15

Time to Wake Up: A 21st Century Trade Deal Must Acknowledge the Reality of Climate Change

Mr. President, I am here today for the 99th time to remind us that we are sleepwalking our way to a climate catastrophe, and that it is time to wake up. NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the United States, recently announced an ominous milestone. This March, for the first time in human history, the monthly average of CO 2 in our atmosphere exceeded 400 parts per million. This chart shows the global concentration of carbon dioxide over the last few years as measured by… Continue Reading


05.06.15

Time to Wake Up: Climate Denial Recalls Tobacco Racketeering

Mr. President, I am here for the 98th time to urge this body to stop sleepwalking through history. Climate change is real, it is already harming the United States, and it is time for the Senate to wake up and address this threat. The science that links carbon pollution to global warming is nothing new. It dates back to President Lincoln. In the century and a half since, we have measured changes in the climate that scientists virtually unanimously say are caused by our burning of fossil fuels. A… Continue Reading


04.28.15

Time to Wake Up: Climate Change in the Arctic

Mr. President, the evidence of climate disruption caused by carbon pollution is clear and overwhelming. Yet the Senate is sleepwalking through this history. I am here today for the 97th time to say that we must wake up. Climate disruptions are felt in every corner of the globe, from the ocean floor to the reaches of the atmosphere and from pole to pole. Indeed, the United States is an Arctic Nation. We have been so since Secretary of State Seward negotiated the purchase of Alaska from Russia in… Continue Reading


04.21.15

Time to Wake Up: Scientific Freedom and Silence in the States

Mr. President, as Americans celebrate the 35th Earth Day this week, I rise for the 96th time--I seem to be coinciding with the Presiding Officer's schedule so he has been treated to his share of these speeches--to urge this body to wake up to the threat of climate change. It is real, not a hoax. It is caused by carbon pollution, and it is already making changes that we are already seeing in the world around us. We must cut our carbon pollution to prevent even bigger climate changes--changes in o… Continue Reading


04.14.15

Time to Wake Up: Don't Listen to McConnell on Climate Change

Mr. President, the distinguished majority leader, the senior Senator from Kentucky, is resolutely opposed to any serious conversation about climate change. Under his leadership, the Republican Party in the Senate has exactly zero legislation for addressing carbon pollution in any serious way. The majority leader has even written to Governors around the country urging defiance of the climate change regulations of the U.S. Government, namely, the Environmental Protection Agency's forthcoming clean… Continue Reading


03.25.15

Time to Wake Up: Oceans Warn, We Don't Listen

Mr. President, I have come to the floor today to urge this Chamber to wake up to the urgent threat of climate change. I have done this every week the Senate has been in session for nearly 3 years. Today is my 94th time. I have asked my colleagues to heed the warnings from our scientists, from our military and national security professionals, from many of our leading American corporations and executives, from their own home-State universities, and from so many of our faith leaders. Since it is … Continue Reading


03.18.15

Time to Wake Up: Corporate Climate Responsibility 2.0

Mr. President, to change the subject from sentencing reform to climate change, I come to the Floor today for - I guess, it's the 93rd consecutive week that the Senate has been in session, to urge that my colleagues to wake up to the urgent threat of what results from our levels of carbon pollution. It is an opportune time now to consider a step-up in American corporate responsibility on climate change-call it Corporate Climate Responsibility 2.0. Americans can celebrate and applaud the fact t… Continue Reading


03.12.15

Time to Wake Up: What Big Oil Companies Say Vs. What They Do

Thank you, Mr. President, there are a lot of people-scientists, doctors and health professionals, our military and security leaders, the insurance and reinsurance industry, most of our major utilities, even faith leaders-who agree that climate change is a serious problem and an important priority. In the private sector, many corporate leaders see climate change as both a moral challenge and a financial opportunity. Indeed, as I rise today now for the 92nd time to urge my colleagues in Congre… Continue Reading


03.04.15

Time to Wake Up: Climate Change In Wisconsin

Thank you, Mr. President, I am back now for the 91st consecutive week that the Senate has been in session to urge my colleagues to wake up and pay attention to the threat of climate change. I am delighted and proud to be joined today by my colleague and friend, Senator Baldwin from Wisconsin, to consider the effects of carbon pollution in her state. According to scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, weather stations around the state show that average temperatures in Wisconsin in… Continue Reading


02.25.15

Time to Wake Up: The Effects of Climate Change From New York to Florida

Mr. President, I am here for the 90th time to urge my colleagues in the Senate to take action on climate change. It is time to wake up. The science is clearly worthy of our trust, and it is indeed time to wake up. The human contribution to climate change is no longer up for legitimate debate. We know that carbon pollution accumulates in the atmosphere. We know that carbon dioxide traps the sun's heat. We've actually known that since Abraham Lincoln was president. We know that the atmosphe… Continue Reading


02.23.15

Sen. Whitehouse: Let's Lift the Stigma on Addiction and Recovery

*This speech was delivered at an event about addiction and recovery co-hosted by the Alliance to Prevent the Abuse of Medicines, Roll Call, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. It was held at the Chamber's headquarters in Washington, DC. Good morning, and thank you for the kind introduction, Beth (Bronder, Roll Call publisher). Thank you also to the Alliance to Prevent the Abuse of Medicines, Roll Call, and the Chamber of Commerce for hosting this important discussion on prescription drug abuse.… Continue Reading


02.02.15

Time to Wake Up: Conflicting Voices from Oklahoma

Thank you, Mr. President. I am here now for the eighty-eighth time to urge this body to wake up to the looming threat of climate change. In the last few weeks, my Republican colleagues have talked about climate change here on the floor more than at any other time since I began giving these weekly speeches. We'd heard next to nothing from Republicans about climate change since the 2010 Citizens United decision. That decision let loose the fossil fuel industry to cast an even darker shadow of … Continue Reading


01.29.15

Time to Wake Up: Let's Start Debating Solutions

Mr. President, I am here now, for I guess the 87th consecutive week that the Senate has been in session to urge action on climate change. We've had an interesting couple of weeks on the Keystone Pipeline, but from a climate change and carbon pollution point of view, this would obviously not be helpful, indeed it would be a disaster, leading to as much as 27 million metric tons of additional carbon dioxide emitted per year. To put that number into some perspective, that's the equivalent of addi… Continue Reading


01.21.15

Time to Wake Up: Citizens United Crushed the Debate on Climate Change

Mr. President, this week marks a somewhat dark milestone, which is the five-year anniversary of the Supreme Court's, in my view, reprehensible decision in Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission. This was some feat of activism by the conservative bloc of the Supreme Court. It overturned the laws of Congress, it overturned the will of the American people, and it gave wildly outsized influence over our elections to corporations and big-money interests, creating what one newspaper in Kentu… Continue Reading


01.14.15

Time to Wake Up: Let's Reject the Keystone Pipeline

Thank you, Mr. President, with all of the issues are country faces, here we are debating a Canadian pipeline, what are we doing here? A new majority has taken over the Senate, and their first bill-their opening gambit-is the Keystone pipeline? What is going on? Is it about jobs? There has been an awful lot of talk about jobs in the last few days. But this opening gambit both obviously and demonstrably has nothing to do with jobs. If this were about jobs, bring up instead the Shaheen-Port… Continue Reading


01.07.15

Time to Wake Up: Senate Dems can Still Make Progress on Climate Change

This is my first "Time to Wake Up" speech in the Senate as a member of the minority. Being in the minority will give me the opportunity for the first time to use the tools that are uniquely available to members of the Senate minority. On the issue of climate change, which is affecting all our states, particularly Rhode Island, I intend to use them, politely and persistently. We have just left a period of partisanship and obstruction by the minority unique in the Senate's history. I do not in… Continue Reading


12.16.14

Time to Wake Up: 2014 Could be the Hottest Year On Record

Mr. President, We are winding down the end of this year in Congress and indeed the end of this Congress, and I am here today for the last "Time to Wake Up" speech in this Congress. And I'm particularly pleased to be delivering it while my friend is presiding, who actually took the trouble to come to Rhode Island and hear firsthand about what is happening in my state on those issues. The year that is ending now ushered in some mighty dubious milestones: January through November, 2014, the year s… Continue Reading

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