Senate Democrats

Will Senate Republicans Match Their Words With Action to Combat Global Warming?

Some Senate Republicans have talked about the importance of addressing global warming. Some of them have called for a bipartisan solution that strengthens our economy, spurs innovation and significantly curbs greenhouse gas emissions. At the upcoming key procedural vote on the bipartisan Climate Security Act on the floor of the United States Senate, these Senators will have the opportunity to signal they support America leading, not following, in the global effort to reduce the risks of climate change.  Will they match their words with action, or will they join their colleagues in the Republican Conference to simply obstruct and delay and leave this enormous problem to burden future generations?

Senator McCain Called for a Cap-and-Trade Approach to Regulating Greenhouse Gases.  “For the market to do more, government must do more by opening new paths of invention and ingenuity. And we must do this in a way that gives American businesses new incentives and new rewards to seek, instead of just giving them new taxes to pay and new orders to follow. The most direct way to achieve this is through a system that sets clear limits on all greenhouse gases, while also allowing the sale of rights to excess emissions. And this is the proposal I will submit to the Congress if I am elected president — a cap-and-trade system to change the dynamic of our energy economy.” [Senator McCain’s Speech at the Vestas Training Facility, in Portland, OR, JohnMccain.com, 05/12/08]

  • But Senator McCain Said He Opposes the Climate Security Act Because It Does Not Do Enough to Promote Nuclear Power. “Yet even McCain, who co-sponsored earlier climate bills with Lieberman and who talks daily about the need for a cap-and-trade system as he campaigns, said last week that he will miss the vote and opposes this bill because it does not do enough to promote nuclear power.” [Washington Post, 6/1/08]
  • Global Warming Will Cause a Decrease in Water Availability in Arizona and Hurt Its $1.9 Billion Agriculture Industry. According to the National Science and Technology Council, states in the Southwest like Arizona will experience greatly reduced water availability due to global warming. According to the EPA, global warming could significantly decrease crop production in by reducing cotton yields 5-11 percent and wheat yields by 70 percent. [National Science and Technology Council, May 2008; EPA, “Climate Change and Arizona,” 9/98]

Senator Alexander Said the Time to Act on Global Warming Is Now.  “And I would like to state my view as clearly as I can. I want a bill. I want to be able to vote for a bill on climate change. I think the time to act is now.”  [Statement of Senator Lamar Alexander, Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Hearing, 11/13/07] 

Senator Alexander Called for a Bipartisan Solution to Global Warming. “I believe that climate change is a real problem. I believe that human activity is a significant contributor to climate change, and I believe that it’s time for us to work in a bipartisan way to take steps to fix the problem.” [Statement of Senator Lamar Alexander, Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Hearing, 3/21/07]

Senator Corker Said It is Important to Address Global Warming – Should Seek Policy that Increases Energy Security and Grows Our Economy.  “I think it was important for the President to address the issue of climate change and present some general principles for what a good policy might do, said Corker. This issue is not going away, and Congress will probably be debating legislation as soon as June. I have spent a lot of time reviewing various legislative proposals and the positive and negative impacts of cap-and-trade programs in other parts of the world. I hope the policy our country pursues will be sound, enabling us to become more energy secure and grow our economy while being good stewards of our environment.” [“Corker Response to President Bush’s Speech on Climate Change” Press Release, Sen. Corker, 4/16/2008]

  • States in the Southeast of the United States – Including Tennessee – May Be Hit the Hardest by Climate Change. “The Southeast states – Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North and South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and the Gulf Coast of Texas – may be some of the hardest hit by climate change in the US. By value, the region produces about one quarter of US agricultural products; half of US timber supplies; and much of the nation’s fish, poultry, tobacco, oil, coal and natural gas (Burkett et al. 2001). As such, the state economies are intricately tied to the condition of their natural resources.” [Center for Integrative Environmental Research, University of Maryland, October 2007]

Senator Martinez Seriously Said He Was Leaning Towards Supporting the Climate Security Act. “Washington is just weeks away from voting on major legislation that could set America on the path to seriously combating climate change. What’s particularly shocking in this is that the legislation actually stands a chance of passing. A handful of Republican senators considering the bill, crafted by Independent Joe Lieberman of Connecticut and Republican John Warner of Virginia, could make the difference. One is Florida’s own Mel Martinez, who, encouragingly, says he’s ‘leaning toward supporting it,’ while adding that it mustn’t hurt people on fixed or lower incomes. Both the Florida Chamber and Mr. Martinez, scheduled to meet the day after the seminar, say they know well what’s at stake. The senator says he’s convinced humans contribute to climate change.” [Orlando Sentinel, 05/03/08]

  • States of the Southeast Have Been Hardest Hit by Climate Events – Florida Experienced More Than 20 Natural Disasters Between 1980 and 2006, Each Costing More than $1 Billion. “Hurricanes and tropical storms are by far the most frequent and destructive of the natural disasters documented by the National Climatic Data Center at NOAA. Other disasters include non-tropical floods, heat waves and drought, severe weather, fires, freezes, blizzards, ice storms and nor’easters, accounting for 24 of the 70 events and $308 billion in damages. The Southeast states were hit hardest by these natural disasters, with each state, except Kentucky, experiencing at least 16 events that caused over $1 billion in damages each. Texas, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, and North Carolina each experienced 21-25 natural disasters from 1980-2006.” [Center for Integrative Environmental Research, University of Maryland, October 2007]

Senator Graham Said Stories of Native People Affected by Global Warming in Alaska Makes You Know Something Is Going On. “‘Climate change is different when you come here, because you see the faces of people experiencing it in Alaska,’ he said. ‘If you can go to the Native people and listen to their stories and walk away with any doubt that something’s going on, I just think you’re not listening.’” [Anchorage Daily News, 8/18/05]

  • Global Warming Could Have Serious Impact on South Carolina’s Forestry Industry, the State’s Second Largest Economic Sector. “For example, the state of South Carolina boasts 60% forest cover and forestry is, after tourism, the second largest economic sector. Given the diversity of species and environmental conditions, short- to medium-term impacts on forests are uncertain. Sea level rise resulting in salt water intrusion may damage forests, particularly in southern Florida and Louisiana. Higher temperatures, decreased soil moisture, and more frequent fires may stress forest ecosystems and ultimately may lead to a conversion from forest to savannah and grassland.” [Center for Integrative Environmental Research, University of Maryland, October 2007]

Senator Stevens Said Evidence of Global Warming Is More Apparent in Alaska Than Anywhere Else in the United States. “I think as far as the United States is concerned, the evidence of global climate change is more apparent in Alaska than anywhere else.” [Senator Stevens Statement at Commerce Committee Hearing, 5/20/05]

  • Alaska Will Experience Higher Temperature Rises Than Other States, Diminished Snow Cover, Melting Sea Ice and Increased Infrastructure Costs.   According to the National Science and Technology Council, Alaska will experience higher temperature increases due to global warming than any other part of the United States. Alaska is also expected to suffer decreased snow cover and diminished sea ice along its coast. According to the University of Maryland, global warming is expected to add $5 to $10 billion to Alaska’s infrastructure maintenance budget through 2080. [National Science and Technology Council, May 2008; Center for Integrative Environmental Research, University of Maryland, p. 6, Oct. 2007]

Senator Brownback Called Climate Change a Problem. In 2006, Senator Brownback told the Witchita Eagle, “Climate change is happening and I believe it is a problem.”  [Washington Times, 1/19/07]

  • Rising Temperatures Threaten Kansas’ Almost $2 Billion Wheat Industry, Which Employs Nearly 20,000 Kansans. “In addition, wheat illustrates the nonlinear effects that may occur as temperatures increase. In the wheat-growing regions of the Great Plains, yield is estimated to decline 7% per 1 °C increase in air temperature between 18 and 21 °C, and about 4% per 1 °C increase in air temperature above 21 °C, not considering any reduction in photosynthesis or grain-set.” [National Science and Technology Council, May 2008; Texas A&M University, Impact of the Wheat Industry on the U.S. Economy, Dec. 2006]

Senator Chambliss’ Position on Global Warming Softened After Seeing the Melting Polar Ice Caps. “But many lawmakers, including conservative Republicans who have opposed efforts to address climate change, are softening their positions. Georgia Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss voted against a bill last year by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., to cap emissions on greenhouse gases, but his attitude shifted after joining McCain on a recent trip to Greenland to see the vanishing polar ice.  ‘You can truly see that there is some melting going on,’ Chambliss told the Associated Press after the trip. ‘When you see it, all of a sudden you say, ‘Hey, that issue that we’ve been talking about off and on over the years, there really is something to it.’ " [San Francisco Chronicle, 9/23/06]

  • States of the Southeast Have Been Hardest Hit by Climate Events – Georgia Experienced More Than 20 Natural Disasters Between 1980 and 2006, Each Costing More than $1 Billion.  “Hurricanes and tropical storms are by far the most frequent and destructive of the natural disasters documented by the National Climatic Data Center at NOAA. Other disasters include non-tropical floods, heat waves and drought, severe weather, fires, freezes, blizzards, ice storms and nor’easters, accounting for 24 of the 70 events and $308 billion in damages. The Southeast states were hit hardest by these natural disasters, with each state, except Kentucky, experiencing at least 16 events that caused over $1 billion in damages each. Texas, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, and North Carolina each experienced 21-25 natural disasters from 1980-2006.” [Center for Integrative Environmental Research, University of Maryland, October 2007]

Senator Barrasso Wants To Address Global Warming.  “Finally, let me reiterate that I do want to address this problem of global warming. We can get there, but only if we show China and India that we can pass a bill that strengthens our economy, that creates jobs, that looks after our workers, that develops the needed technology, and then allows those nations to use that technology to address the problem on a worldwide basis, not just a national basis.” [Statement of Senator John Barrasso, Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Hearing, 11/13/07]

  • Drought in Intermountain States like Wyoming Are Likely to Experience More Water Shortages and Drought Due to Global Warming. “Specifically, it is likely that droughts will continue to be exacerbated by earlier and possibly lower spring snowmelt runoff in the mountainous West, which results in less water available in late summer… If total precipitation decreases or becomes more variable, extending the kinds of drought that have affected much of the interior West in recent years, water scarcity will be exacerbated, and increased water withdrawals from wells could affect aquifer levels and pumping costs…” [National Science and Technology Council, May 2008]
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