WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Bob Menendez spoke on the Senate Floor to urge Congress and the Trump Administration to act on climate change. Sen. Menendez joined his colleagues to celebrate Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse’s 200th speech on climate change. Sen. Whitehouse has been giving a speech on climate change every week Congress has been in session since 2012.
“It’s time this Administration wake up and put the long-term economic, environmental and security interests of the United States ahead of fossil fuel profits,” Menendez said. “And it’s time the United States reclaims its rightful place as the global leader on climate change. The American people demand it. And the future of our planet depends on it."
Below is the speech as prepared for delivery:
M. President, I come to the floor today to amplify the efforts of my colleague Senator Whitehouse as he gives his 200th climate speech here on the Senate floor.
Climate change is a threat to New Jersey, to the United States, and to the security and stability of our world.
It’s a challenge we cannot afford to ignore.
I agree with my colleague from Rhode Island, it’s well-past time for this Congress to wake up and demand climate action from this Administration.
We often hear Trump Administration officials and even some of our colleagues here in Congress suggest that “we don’t know enough” about climate change to take action.
When the truth is we know too much not to take action.
We know about the greenhouse effect, and how gases like carbon dioxide trap heat in our atmosphere.
We know that since 2010, we’ve experienced the five warmest years on record. And that momentary cold snaps in our weather do not detract from the indisputable reality that around the world, temperatures are steadily rising.
We know that 97% of scientists agree man-made climate change is real and that the burning of fossil fuels and other human activities have led to unprecedented levels of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere and in our oceans.
We know that experts at NOAA have concluded that since the Industrial Revolution, our oceans have become 30 percent more acidic – the greatest increase in 300 million years.
Likewise, we know that the Arctic is warming at twice the rate of the rest of the world.
And that as the ice caps melt, our sea levels rise. Endangering the coastal communities that drive so much of America’s economy.
In New Jersey, we know the threat posed by climate change is real.
My constituents bore the brunt of Superstorm Sandy when it devastated the Jersey shore.
We know that rising sea levels – and the powerful storms that accompany them – jeopardize our coastal communities.
From tourism to commercial fishing to coastal property values totaling nearly $800 billion, millions of families across New Jersey depend on a healthy coast and a safe climate.
And while I may be partial to the Jersey shore, the reality is that nearly 40 percent of the American people live along a coast.
That’s 40 percent of our country threatened by rising sea levels, stronger storm surges, and more extreme flooding.
Of course, climate change is far from just a coastal problem.
From life-threatening heat waves to crop-destroying droughts to record-breaking wildfires, the perils of a warming planet are not up for debate.
The fact is, climate change will impact every human being and every living thing on this planet if we fail to take action.
And the American people know it. An October 2017 AP found that over 61% of Americans want us to respond to this historic challenge.
Even President Trump’s Department of Defense gets it! Earlier this year, the Pentagon reported that about 50 percent of DoD sites already face risks from climate change and extreme weather events.
And as Ranking Member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, I’m particularly concerned we’ve done little to address climate change’s role as a “threat multiplier.”
Whether it’s disruptions to the food supply or forced migration from sea level rise or destruction wreaked by more powerful storms, climate change will likely exacerbate conflict and humanitarian crises around the world.
President Trump’s willful ignorance of these threats risks leaving the United States unprepared for the 21st century.
And there’s no question that this willful ignorance is born out of this Administration’s cozy relationship with the fossil fuel industry.
From the Department of Energy, to the Environmental Protection Agency, to the Department of the Interior, President Trump has stacked his cabinet with individuals who seem more concerned about Big Oil profits than the safety of our people and the future of our planet.
And nearly a year ago, the President announced his plan to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Accord – leaving us isolated on the global stage.
Now is not the time to hand our precious waters and protected public lands over to special interests. Now is the time for Congress to incentivize the investments that will modernize our energy infrastructure, create new jobs, and grow our clean energy economy.
That’s why I’ve introduced the COAST Anti-Drilling Act to permanently ban offshore drilling in the Atlantic and protect the coastal communities so vital to New Jersey and other states.
That’s why I’ve introduced legislation with 22 of my Democratic colleagues to level the playing field and eliminate taxpayer-funded subsidies for the five biggest oil companies.
That’s why I’ve worked on the Senate Finance Committee to extend incentives for wind, solar, and other clean energy technologies.
And that’s why I’ve backed legislation that would help harness the potential for limitless clean wind power off our shores.
These initiatives represent modest, commonsense steps towards a thriving clean energy economy.
But ultimately, it’s not enough. We need to think bigger and act bolder.
That’s why I’m here on the floor today, with Senator Whitehouse, calling for action on climate change.
It’s time we take action to reduce carbon pollution, create new jobs, and accelerate the adoption of innovative clean energy technologies.
It’s time this Administration wake up and put the long-term economic, environmental and security interests of the United States ahead of fossil fuel profits.
And it’s time the United States reclaims its rightful place as the global leader on climate change.
The American people demand it. And the future of our planet depends on it.
October 16, 2020