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Special Committee on Climate Crisis Established

March 27, 2019, 10:27 AM HST
* Updated March 27, 10:34 AM
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VIDEO: Special Committee on the Climate Crisis press conference, March 27, 2019. Courtesy of the Office of Sen. Brian Schatz

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) established a new Special Committee on the Climate Crisis on March 27, 2019.

The committee—comprised of 10 Democratic senators—will be tasked with investigating, holding hearings, and issuing findings on the economic and national security consequences of climate change and how acting on the climate crisis presents significant opportunities for jobs, public health, and the economy.

More specifically, the committee will work with environmental, financial, and national security experts to find solutions for communities impacted by climate change and provide oversight on special interests that foster climate denial.

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U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) will chair the committee, and members include U.S. Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Catherine Cortez-Masto (D-Nev.) and Tina Smith (D-Minn.).

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The creation of this new committee is one of many steps Democrats are taking to remain on the offense and highlight the economic and human cost of inaction on climate change. Recently, the entire Senate Democratic Caucus co-sponsored a resolution stating that climate change is real, caused by humans, and that the United States and Congress need to take immediate action to address it. And Senate Democrats have introduced legislation to prohibit any federal funding for the Trump Administration’s fake climate panel and demanded major climate investments in any infrastructure bill, the Office of Sen. Brian Schatz press release stated.

“In order to take bold action, we need a broad coalition,” said Sen. Schatz. “We have put together a group of people who are leading on climate in different ways. And that is going to be the foundation for our success. With this group, we have the necessary pieces to take this issue seriously—to make real inquiries and real analysis. We are treating this like the planetary emergency it is.”

“The economic, national security, environmental, and public health consequences of inaction on climate change are far too pressing to not have a group of senators dedicated to investigating the costs of inaction and the opportunities that exist in taking bold action,” said Senate Democratic Leader Schumer. “While our Republican colleagues stay fixated on denying science, Democrats know that climate change is real and Congress must act quickly, and this new committee is an essential first step in addressing this existential threat.”

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“Republicans refuse to get serious about climate change, but that’s not going to stop us from taking action,” said Sen. Whitehouse. “I am proud to stand with my colleagues on the Senate Democrats’ Special Committee on the Climate Crisis. This panel will study the challenges of climate change, including its costs for the American economy. Instead of burying their heads in the sand, I hope Republicans listen to the American people and join us in this effort.”

“This committee is here to get to work on an indisputable fact: Climate chaos is the greatest threat that humankind has ever known, and we are the last generation that can do anything to stop it,” said Sen. Merkley. “Saving our economy and our way of life requires a rapid transition to clean and renewable energy, one that also has the potential to create millions of good paying jobs. We have no time to waste.”

“For many reasons—most of all, the corruption of money in our politics—Republicans in Washington refuse to treat climate change as a serious issue,” said Sen. Bennet. “Our children’s future can’t become another casualty of Washington’s mindless partisanship. We need to construct enduring solutions to climate change, and this committee is a step forward in accomplishing that goal.”

“Let there be no doubt, climate change is a real, immediate and growing threat to national security, public health and our economy. The longer we fail to act, the more costly climate change will be. We must take bold action now,” said Sen. Baldwin. “Of particular concern to us in Wisconsin are the costs of infrastructure damage from severe flooding, crop and livestock losses from extreme weather, and increasing water pollution in our Great Lakes and inland lakes and rivers. These are threats to major parts of our Wisconsin economy. Taking bold action to confront climate change is not just an environmental goal, it is an urgent economic necessity for us in Wisconsin.”

“It’s long past time for Congress—both the House and the Senate—to finally implement real solutions to curb carbon pollution, mitigate the devastating effects of climate change, and create a managed transition to an economy run 100 percent on clean energy,” said Sen. Heinrich. “The latest science provides us with clear and indisputable evidence that the destructive wildfires, catastrophic hurricanes, and extreme flooding we have seen in just the last couple years are directly linked to human-caused climate change. We don’t have any more time to waste.”

“We are already seeing, hearing, feeling, and suffering the impacts of climate change with increased flooding, deadly forest fires, and super-charged hurricanes fueled by climate change, but Republicans refuse to hold the hearings in Congress and invite the expert testimony to debate the issue. But no matter what Republicans and President Trump try to defund, delay, or deny, climate change is real and the movement to address it is unstoppable. We have the tools to address this generational challenge, and this new Special Committee on the Climate Crisis can help us build the political will,” said Sen. Markey.

“Climate change isn’t some partisan squabble: it’s a national and global security threat—a fact that military leaders and Donald Trump’s own intelligence officials admit,” said Sen. Duckworth. “Anyone who cares about our national security has an imperative to do whatever they can to combat climate change before it’s too late. That’s why this committee is so important. We must do more—before even one more military base floods in the Midwest or one more drought helps another terrorist group solidify power in West Africa.”

“It is past time for Congress to act to protect our environment and avert climate catastrophe. I’m proud to sit on the Senate Special Committee on the Climate Crisis with my Democratic colleagues. This committee allows us to lead investigations, hold hearings and issue findings on how climate inaction is harming our country’s economy and national security, and threatening communities across the U.S. This is just one of the many ways Senate Democrats are taking on this Administration and challenging it to take action to strengthen our nation’s future, foster green energy innovation that we’ve already seen in Nevada, protect workers and combat our world’s growing climate crisis. Republican leaders in Congress and this President must stop denying the science and come together to tackle climate change. The cost of inaction is simply too high for our country and our kids’ future for us to sit on the sidelines,” said Sen. Cortez-Masto.

“In Minnesota, we know that when we lead on making a clean energy transition, it’s good for our health. It’s good for the environment, and it’s good for jobs and the economy. But state action will not be enough—we need bold federal action to address the threat of climate change,” said Sen. Smith. “I’m joining together with my colleagues today because we are ready to work with anyone, anywhere to take on the threat of climate change. Let’s get to work solving this problem that affects every one of us in this country—whether you live in a red state, a blue state, or somewhere in between.”

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