tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN March 11, 2014 6:00am-8:01am EDT
imperative. beyond that there are enormous job gains to come if we make the right decision. lastly before i turn back over to the senator from hawaii for some remarks and i'll stay on the floor because i'd like to maybe talk a little bit about short-lived climate pollutants if i have the time, new england is an example of a place that has figured out how to do this the right way. & the regional greenhouse gases initiative called reggi is the first to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to cap and reduce carbon pollution emissions from the sour sector. it's essentially a mini version of legislation that we've debated here in congress. we essentially set a cap for how much carbon that we're going to produce in the northeast we
allow emitters of that pollution to trade credits and decide for themselves what costs that point source polluters are willing to pay for the ability to send carbon dioxide into the air. we've heard over and over the horror stories coming from our friends on the republican side. as a member of the energy committee in the house of representatives when we debated the waxman-markey bill i heard it over and over again. they told us that electricity prices were going to dramatically spike and that yes, you are going to have a benefit to the environment from reducing carbon dioxide but you are going to have catastrophic consequences for the economy because everybody was going to have to pay for that. well, you know, i guess i can understand how people would believe that if there wasn't any empirical evidence to test their theory.
luckily, new england has just that evidence. new england has tested this idea. frankly, the whole world has tested this idea because we've reduced ozone depleting pollutants based on the similar protocol but in new england we have taken on this issue. and reggi has been, frankly an unqualified success. our carbon reducing plan in new england has prevented the release of 2.3 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. that's the equivalent of taking 435,000 cars off the road for a year the program will offset 8.5 million megawatt hours of electricity generation, and avoid the release of eight until million tons of co2. the program will generate $1.6 billion in net economic
benefit regionwide, and it's putting $1.1 billion in electricity bill savings into the pockets of consumers in the region over the next decade. that's maybe the most important number. in addition to preventing the release of 2.3 million tons of co2 pollution it's reducing the energy bills for new england consumers by over a billion dollars. wow. how does that happen? how do you restrict emissions and then reduce pollution? why? because we take all of that money that we glean in people buying the credits necessary to pollute and we put it right back into energy efficiency. we put it right back into programs that actually allow consumers to use less electricity, to make their homes more efficient to transfer over to furnaces that will use less energy.
and all of those energy efficiency investments cancel out and override the price to the energy producers of having to comply with the new requirements. it's a pretty simple calculus but it works for us in new england. we've taken the equivalent of two coal fired cowrps off -- coal-fired power plants off-line and turned a billion dollars back to ratepayers. we've done something about the scourge of climate change that people have been talking about overnight and we've saved people a whole boatload of money. i guess that's why mr. president, you and senator schatz decided to do this, to engage in this exceptional exercise to come down to the floor of the united states senate tonight because we just
don't understand how people don't see this. if this was really a fight as some people make it between the quality of our air and the quality of our economy then let's have at it. let's come down and have that debate. but it is not. and we've proved that in connecticut. this isn't just guesswork. this isn't estimation. this isn't conjecture. in connecticut we've proved you can do something in new england. we've proved you can make significant gains in reducing climate pollutants and you can create jobs and you can save people money. this is a triple whammy. you get a cleaner environment you become a global leader, you create a whole bunch of jobs and you save a whole bunch of people money. why on earth wouldn't you do that?
unless this debate has been hijacked by the very small number of people today who make money off the status quo. i don't have the exact quote i should have brought it down here. we should -- we probably shouldn't look to machiavelli for much political advice, but he before anybody else paints it for us a picture of the challenge that is presented to the reformer, the reformer's job, he said, is the toughest job in the world because those that will benefit from the new order have trouble seeing it today, but those who will be harmed by the new order those that exist in the status quo see the peril in the most acute sense and fight the hardest to preserve it. and so yes, there are people who face a perilous future but they are a very small number of people and they are people who
run the old line energy businesses that are clinging to the status quo today, who are flooding flooding this debate with millions of dollars to try to affect it. but as even they will find, their even bigger, brighter opportunities on the other side. i imagine even the koch brothers are industrious enough and innovative enough to figure out how to make a mess of money off the energy economy. i'd argue they'd make even more money. so mr. president i thank you and senator schatz and senator boxer for leading this effort. i'll stick around here on the floor to engage in some discussion but this is a triple win. combat climate change, create jobs save people some money it's time for the united states
senate it's time for the united states congress to wake up. i'll yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: i recognize the senior senator from connecticut. mr. blumenthal: thank you mr. president. i'm honored to follow my colleague and friend, my very good friend, the senator from connecticut, and to join him and you mr. president the senator from rhode island and the senator from hawaii, brian schatz and barbara boxer, the senator from california, in
this really very inspiring and exciting occasion. i was driving into the capitol early this morning and i saw in the black sky that beautiful dome that words can barely capture in its beauty, many have tried but i felt so fortunate to be here as a spokesperson and an advocate for this cause that truly is about the rest of this century the rest of this planet's life, our children and their children, and to be part of the debate that has reached through the night. but, in fact, it is night only here. in many parts of the world already it is day. and if we think globally, we
realize that the planet truly never sleeps. it is awake for the night here someplace in the world there is daylight and hopefully during this debate we have shed light at a time of darkness on a debate that is so critical to the future of our nation. we're only a few members of the senate here but i cannot help recalling what the famous scientist and conservationist margaret meade said about this cause and about the importance of people in this cause. quote -- "never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens could change the world. indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." around the world where it's daylight or still dark, there
are groups of committed people willing to put their lives and their voices on the line to save this planet from climate disruption. we're not talking about climate change. we're talking about disruption. and planet destruction. we're not talking here about small consequences that may alter the quality of life a bit here and there. we're talking about horrendous gather gantd twan changes -- gargantuan changes because they are incremental and they accumulate one by one bit by bit, until they alter our shoreline in connecticut our vegetation our produce our recreation industry, all of what makes connecticut the great state that it is in its scenic
and natural beauty, and all of what makes america the great country that it is. not only in its beauty but in its economic strength and its vision for the future. i want to thank senator whitehouse, senator boxer senator schatz for bringing us together and all of my colleagues for joining in this debate and all who work through the night whether it's the guards or the pages or all who tirelessly gave us the opportunity to make the case, to really make the case, much as we would in court whether it's a closing argument or an opening argument, for the need that all of us unite in this critical cause. the gravity of climate
disruption cannot be denied. oh, there are people who deny it no question that there are deniers, but the science is irrefutable. the facts are there. and as ronald reagan said, facts are a stubborn thing. we can't change them by our rhetoric in this body, we can't make them go away in story telling. we can read our children books dr. seuss or others about the wonderful things that happen in fantasy or the nightmares that may occur to people, also in their dreams, but in the real world, the science is well established. the science tells us that
climate disruption is happening as we speak relentlessly. and tirelessly. and that is why we are here today. the compassion that we as legislators demonstrate i think that we care about the people who occupy this planet now but also about the many, many others who will follow us, and we are here to break the culture of indifference in the businessy world that is -- busy world that is awake all the time, so global in its reach that is digitally connected at all moments. there is a tendency to move forward and forget about what is fundamental and important and that is climate disruption. to break this culture of indifference towards pollution and climate disruption, we must
reverse the practices and policies that accelerate this dramatic and destructive trend in our world. in connecticut we've already seen firsthand the effects of climate disruption. severe weather events used to occur once in a generation. they're now becoming the new normal. these monstrous storms, whatever they're called, irene, sandy they are the new normal. in just the time that i began serving in the united states senate since january 2011, connecticut has experienced four major storms claiming lives and costing millions of dollars in damage. culminating in the unprecedented superstorm sandy. now, we can call sandy a hurricane or a superstorm or whatever we will. we can call these weather events inevitable or surprising but
they are becoming the new normal because of climate disruption. in february 2011, a snowstorm cost the state $20 million and the leadership of our governor was exemplary. but remedying the effects of storm does not prevent them and even preparing for them does not forestall them because the weather is bigger than any action of man and man can control it only by fundamental changes in the way that he or she lives. that snowfall in february 2011 was followed by tropical storm irene, which wreaked $564 million in damages. the people of connecticut had barely any time to recover before a freak october snowstorm brought an additional $614
$614 million devastation to the state. hurricane sandy struck a year later causing record-breaking damage and devastation to connecticut as well as the states of new jersey, new york, rhode island. when the storm cleared and all the destruction was tallied connecticut found itself facing damage totaling $770 million as well as incalculable harm to houses beaches and other places along the coast. i toured the coast. i saw the damage. the fur ferocity and fury of that storm could be comprehended only by seeing that damage or income the midst of it, which i was for a short period at the very start when i went to tour the emergency operations center in
places like norwalk and greenwich along the coast where preparation was beginning for that storm. and driving back on i-95 as the storm gathered in its ferocity and fury, i was frightened in a way that all of us should now share as we see the prospect of that furry and ferocity of nature destructively impacting our entire planet, our world and our children's world. we must heed hurricane sandy's warning as well as the alarms sounded by other storms and take steps to stop climate disruption and global warming. the evidence beyond the anecdotal facts that we all see is irrefutable. the scientific evidence.
climate disruption impacts our ocean and atmosphere, disrupting natural temperature cycles and variations in climate leading to an increasing number of severe weather events, snowstorms as well as hurricane cold and rain, as well as heat and drought across the country. severe storms and other disasters such as floods tornadoes and droughts are happening at a rate four times greater than the average 30 years ago. these storms are costing us, they're costing our families, local communities and taxpayers more and more of their hard-earned dollars and connecticut families and our people are impacted severely. so washington has an obligation and an opportunity to act. this body must face the responsibility at hand and act in the interest of the american
people. climate change is a real and present and urgent danger. the threat is now. we should face this with a sense of immediacy just as we would a house burning or a storm coming much as we did the coming of sandy when the brave first responders, our firemen and police braved the storm but did the right thing knowing that they must act to protect our people. the sense of urgency that this issue require indeed, this issue demands is lacking today and that is why we are here -- to break the culture of indifference and despair. outside the insulatory of
washington and political stagnation, dysfunction i think is the word most often used which has paralyzed our politics the american people is understanding. the american public gets it. they understand that climate disruption is happening. it is happening in their everyday lives. it is affecting their homes near rivers and oceans, affecting their drinking water supplies and the crops they and we need for food. and they understand that if nothing is done this problem will only get worse. communities in the midwest know why they are experiencing some of the worst droughts in decades. families in california know why their town's water supply is dwindling dangerously lower and lower. lobstermen in connecticut's long island sound they're dwindling
in number understand why lobster numbers are shrinking and surviving lobster populations are moving farther north. the lobsters are our modern day can marry in thecanary in the coal mine. from montana to new mexico to california we see why the fire season is starting earlier in the year and lasting later into the fall. and we've seen the pictures here on the floor of some of those wildfires that have devastated our forests. american people understand why our forests are burning and the american people get it but congress still does not. we've reached the time where we must do the job we were elected to do. it's time to fight for a remedy, fight for relief to the firefighters to farmers to lobstermen, to ordinary american people who want to take their
families to the shore and see it as they knew it when they were children. every generation in this nation makes a covenant. every generation has an obligation to leave this nation better than we found it. we are in danger of leaving a lesser america in so many ways. but most important in what matters to everyday life our climate. our weather. our soil and trees. what we see when we wake in the morning and before we go to bed. the natural world that is essential to our survival not to mention our thriving. in my home state of connecticut
the people are not waiting for answers from washington. we've waited long enough in connecticut. because congress has not fully awakened. indeed it's still asleep. as my colleague senator whitehouse has said time after time just a few feet from me america and the world must wake up. and the failure to do so -- waiting and watching as disaster develops -- could spell deaf station for america and for our planet. and that's why connecticut is taking steps to address climate change effects like rising sea levels and storms. state officials are researching areas, especially along our coasts and our waterways that are vulnerable to storm surges and inland flooding and figuring
out how best to protect infrastructure that is at risk. i know that the citizens of senator schatz' state of hawaii, the people of that great state are doing the same thing taking initiative and initiating policies to rein in pollution taking steps on their own voting with their feet not just their voices but their action. and that is what the citizens of rhode island are doing as well. seeking to do whatever they can as individuals. they are a small group of intelligence and dedicated people but they are seek -- group of intelligence and dedicated people seeking to change. and a small group is the only thing to do so, as margaret meade has said. citizens from the state of california all the way to new england are joining in this effort. this citizens movement to save
the planet from climate disruption eventually will prevail. eventually there will be action. but will it be in time? i want to read an article that appeared in "the hartford current" on january 27, 2014 just a few weeks ago. it captures how the people of connecticut are paying attention to the growing threat of climate change and how they are taking steps to address it. i'm quoting -- "the changing climate is expected to macon con make connecticut a different place with more extreme wetter, hotter summers and more precipitation disrupting the natural world around us and testing our ability to respond and adapt. some people, some changes will be volatile and abrupt while others will be more nuanced. for example maple syrup
production could decline while grape froag improves, which would bode well for connecticut's wine industry. at the end of this century connecticut's heat is expected to feel more like the sticky dog days of washington d.c., or perhaps savannah. a warmer summer could seem rather pleasant on its face if connecticut were to have a summer more like those in the south, but the changes come with greater volatility. as the climate gets warmer, you put more moisture into the atmosphere and it just gets a little more violent said richard haughton founder of a private nonprofit research organization that focuses on environmental success sciences. there's a lot more energy around that comes out in unexpected ways generally not to the betterment of garden and forest and so on, houghton said.
the changes have been studied and monitored by universities, state and federal agencies and others who have combed over decades of data on everything from changes in trees' growth to lobster habitat in long island sound. extensive collections of scientific data have been the source of documents for meta analysts saying in effect that the big changes are underway, disrupting a mostly climate climate climateproblems of thousands of years. perhaps more worrisome is the likelihood of severe weather events such as floods. quoting -- "even if you had the same amount of rain, it's going to be delivered in these more punctuated very intense rain events which are more likely to wash out bridges roads cause damage to people's basements flooding things like that that cost more, said brenda uresaw,
senior climate scientist with the union of concerned scientist, an organization started in massachusetts institute of technology in 1969 and now is an alliance of more than 400,000 citizens and scientists. we haven't designed our infrastructure especially the aging i infrastructure of the northeast, to handle these kinds of drainage needs, she said." in 2007 the northeast climate impacts assessment was conducted by scientists at more than a dozen universities including harvard and princeton, in addition to experts at the u.s. geological survey. the national oceanic and atmospheric administration and the u.s. department of agriculture. in 2009, several federal agencies that are part of the u.s. global research program released another large report with specifics about what will change and what will happen to
the northeast and connecticut as a result of climate change. here are some highlights of the two reports. let the northeast could steve 20% to 30% more winter precipitation and more of that could be rain. rather than snow. assuming a a greater level of heat trapping emissions from human activities. the higher emissions scenario assumes a continued heavy reliance on fossil fuels while a lower emissions scenario assumes a shift to cleaner energy by the middle of the century. heavy downpours of rain have increased across the northeast in recent decades causing intense spring flooding in 2006 2007, and 2010. cities that experience only a few 100-degree days each summer
might average 20 such days per summer while others including hartford would average nearly 30 days at 100 degrees or higher. large portions of the northeast could be unsuitable for growing popular varieties of apples blueberries and cranberries in a higher emissions scenario. heat streas could reduce milk production in dairy cows. however, the longer growing period could be better for gardeners and farmers so long as they can adapt to the greater likelihood of summer droughts and flooding rains in the spring. hotter weather is expected to shift the growth range for maple, beech and forest to the north, disruptioning the maple industry and disrupting the animals such as migratory songbirds such as the baltimore oryell long lived trees might
endure but wroob subject to stress of competition bugs and disease. some parts of northern connecticut will retain those hardwoods. sea levels are expected to rise 10 inches to two feet by the end of the century and those projections do not account for recent observed melting of the world's major ice sheets. which means the estimates could be too conservative. what is considered -- what is now considered a once in a century coastal flooding in new london and groton along the thames river could occur as frequently as every 17 years. modeling sea rise is more difficult than predicting other effects of climate change because there are so variables related to the sea levels. in any scenario, the seas are expected to rise. what happens to the climate depends on a multitude of
factors around the globe from deforestation in tropical areas to the burning of fossil fumes for energy -- fossil fuels for energy sait houghton, the head of woods hole research center. one important distinction is weather and climate are different. climate future does not predict when and where it will rain, instead it's patterns such as overall warmer temperatures or the greater likelihood for violent floods such as tornadoes or floods. theory climate change -- for climate change, it's more general trends and i'm quoting now, for climate change it's more general trends and as part of that, it's how do extreme changes as a result also of global warming. as more erratic and extreme weather becomes more likely, property owners, town governments, cities, states,
and the federal government will be put to new tests of their responses and adaptability. maybe 30 years and again quoting, dr. equezel maybe 30 years we've gotten better at dealing with those extreme events because they'll become the new normal, she said. i would say in the next decade, 15 or 20 years we're going to have some hard lessons as to how to deal with this. the work of responding and adapting is already underway and has been for years though there's renewed concern after power outages and widespread property damages during tax reform irene and the october storm of 2011 and storm sandy in 2012. quoting, they were clearly wake-up calls said jessica stratton a director of policy in charge of climate issues at the state department of energy
and environmental protection. connecticut has a wide-ranging climate strategy that ranges from buying energy that produces less carbon pollution which causes further warming and a less predictable climate to better preparation for greater extreme. in terms of preparing for higher sea levels and laind flooding from harsh rain, there are three priorities according to jessie stratton. first, connecticut is-reaching areas vulnerable to rise -- rising levels and flooding, second the state is looking to critical infrastructure, facilities and property at risk in those high hazard areas and third, the state and other parties will work to develop best practices to protect infrastructure and habitat and to mitigate or reduce risk to the greatest extent possible. the last measure will involve
assisting residents state and local governments. in 2010, a committee of scientists engineers farmers, policymakers, public health officials and business owners accomplished a 195-page document called "the impacts of climate change on connecticut agriculture, infrastructure, resources and public health." quote -- "we think it is highly probable that we are going to experience these kinds of events more frequently, stratton said of recent storms and flooding, and quoting because of that, i don't want to sit here and just say okay, we'll take it, we'll pick up the pieces afterward. let us do what we can to lessen the negative impacts and those are human those are property, those are business losses. there are a whole bunch of things, so let us take whatever steps we can to enable our society as it currently is to function as well as it can to
get back to normal as quickly as it can. i have quoted so extensively from this article in "current" because it summarizes many of the facts that cannot be denied those facts are stubborn things. those facts presage a disaster that we have the power to ignore. but we also have the power to act and to deal with it. and to take advantage of the immense opportunity that lies ahead. an opportunity that could actually create jobs and economic growth, and that is the key point here, that the problem of climate disruption is an opportunity. it's an opportunity not only to change mindsets and culture
the culture of indifference, it is an opportunity to change the way we live, create jobs, new lifestyle and economic growth. the real and serious health impacts of climate change impacting millions of americans should be enough to force congress to act but? that is not enough evidence, let us look to the economic impact of inaction. take the asthma rates. just one example of climate change's impact on health costs. according to the american academy of allergy asthma and immunology, the united states spends approximately $3,300 per person with asthma per year. between 2002 and 2007, asthma
costs grew 6% from $53 million to $56 billion. that's $53 billion to $56 billion. the noaa national climate data center estimates the extreme weather events that occurred across the country in 2012 alone which include tornadoes in the plains states and the south the wildfires in the west and the midwest drought and hurricane sandy cost the american economy $1 billion in rebuilding and lost economic productivity and that estimate is no doubt low and conservative. a rocket scientist isn't needed to understand the effects that rising sea levels will have on our coastal community which include many of america's large cities and population centers. america's cities will be under
water, and will have to rebuild their defenses at great cost. but there is another side of this situation. there is a difference side of this coin of climate disruption. yes, climate disruption can be devastating to our economy. indeed it's already begun to be so. but it also offers the hope and opportunity of spurring new technology reducing our dependence on oil and thus driving down greenhouse emissions in a way that will empower and drive economic growth. the u.s. economic and statistics administration reports that the country's 2010 trade deficit in petroleum-related products was $265 billion or approximately
$855 per american citizen. the e.p.a. and the d.o.t. -- the environmental protection agency and the department of transportation -- estimate that the corporate average fuel economy standards that require vehicles to be more fuel efficient and emit less co2 by 2025 save $8,000 per vehicle over each car's lifetime. upgrading and retrofitting buildings to be more energy efficient and creating jobs by creating new technologies and training workers to develop the skills to execute the retrofit and to work in a burgeoning alternative energy industries will generate tremendous return for our economy. the bipartisan shaheen-portman energy savings and competitive act which i was proud to sponsor, is waiting in the
wings here for congressional action. it would create over 190,000 jobs and save $16 billion a year for consumers by 2030. we must make the shaheen-portman bill law. it is only one example of what the senate can and must do to help stop climate disruption. it is a small measure modest in its impact, but it is a start, and if we do nothing else as a result of this debate tonight, let it lead us to bring back shaheen-portman. so even if, unlike the overwhelming majority of scientists you have doubts about the science of climate change remember that the economic benefits of addressing
it even if it is, you think a dream or a nightmare some feants a -- fantasy remember that supporting renewable energy promoting greater efficiency in motor vehicles and buildings will save money add jobs make for stronger buildings and better vehicles, and most important save wasteful energy use. that argument ought to be enough to convince anyone that these investments are smart for america. so whatever your reasons may be whether you're motivated by the need to ensure a livable climate for future generations whether you're moved to action by americans suffering by millions from health problems, exacerbated by a more polluted environment, whether you understand the threat to the united states economy that's created by not only the more
intense weather events but an inefficient energy landscape whatever your motivation, whether it's fear or anxiety apprehension about the future or simply a desire to save money from wasteful use of energy, the intense weather events are becoming more intense and they are becoming the new normal, inefficiency in energy is becoming a norm as more people around the globe use energy and we can set an example lead by example in the united states. the nation must wake up. congress must awake and now is the time to act. i want to close by reading some letters from the people of
connecticut because i think they speak eloquently to the reason that we're here and the reason that the people of connecticut are taking this kind of action. they are letters to me from constituents from all walks of life expressing their personal feeling about this issue. patricia wallace of new haven wrote -- quote -- "as the director of elderly services for the city of new haven last year when we had 34 inches of snow i heard from seniors who could not get out of their front or back door and had no way to move that snow, who could not get fuel deliveries, could not get food. i have a husband who uses a wheelchair to get to work. it was nearly impossible for us to move the snow that city plows pushed up on the side of the street so that he could get on the lift of the van to get to work. a few years back many senior
housing complexes lost power during sandy and had no generators. when they they were built we did not face the severe frequent weather. two nursing homes have generators but they were not built for the length of time we've had to operate during these severe weather storms." another connecticut resident named diane tabor markowitz told me -- quote -- "the global warming of our planet is causing a push back. this affects us all and results in a loss of people and other valuable resources needed to sustain and progress our species. personally we deal with severe weather events regularly power outages that cause us to lose work and cost us in wasted food that spoils during outages.
our local regional, national infrastructure is dangerous in its deteriorated state and our tax dollars go to assisting the very companies and politicians who support our demise. and lenore lewis foreman of bridgeport wrote me to say "i have a nerve disorder because of this. the weather plays a significant part of my day-to-day activities. some days i am okay enough to get out of bed and participate in society while being productive and there are days the pains are so bad that my eyes blur and i can't move. the past season has made it increasingly difficult for me to even motivate myself enough to get out of bed. i have many family and relatives that have been affected by climate change. some have passed on or moved to another state. a few have decided to stay here in the northeast and stick it
out. countless connecticut residents in other words countless residents in communities across our state have written to me with their position and concerns. like these three writers whose letters i shared with you many connecticut citizens fear that climate change will disproportionately affect the most vulnerable among our population: the elderly the ill, and the people without financial resources. people understand that climate change will have consequences. not only for their personal lives but for our food and water, our way of life. people are already bearing the burden of climate change and disruption every day. they know that if nothing is done it will only get worse for them and for future generations. again, the time for action is
now. america must wake up. let me close by reading a small part of a book that was quoted earlier in this debate by my colleague from the state of oregon senator mark merkley who cited the lorax book by dr. seuss. and it says in part, now i'll tell you he says, with his teeth sounding gray, how the lorax got lifted and taken away. it all started way back, such a long time back, way back in the days when the grass was still green and the pond was still wet and the clouds were still clean. and it goes on to describe the degradation and the tree cutting
and the disregard for that environment. and i know that senator merkley has quoted it at length, so i will not do so. but it closes with a very poignant and dramatic observation that maybe others, maybe many in this body is read to their children. -- quote -- "i've worried about it with all of my heart but now, says the oncellor, now that you're here the word of the lorax seems perfectly clear unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot nothing is going to get better. it's not. so catch calls the oncellor, he lets something fall, it's the
truffelacy the last one of all. give it clean water and treat it with care. grow a forest and protect it from ax and hacks. then the lorax and all of i want friends may come back. the stories we read our children, they understand. our children understand in many ways better than we do because they understand what it means to play in the snow or have sunny skies or a day that is not filled with super storms. they understand what it means to act individually to take care of the environment and our planet. i would like to think it is because we have read them the stories of heroes, environmental
heroes who champion the right causes who care enough to act. i'd like to think that the leadership of some in this body, their leadership by example and others countless others across the nation who take stands, stand up, speak out against climate disruption, against the emissions that threaten the very existence of our planet, provides those young people with leadership by example. i would like to think that they are learning from some of us and the stories that we tell them and read to them from dr. seuss or others. the story from dr. seuss is not about games about fantasy. it may seem like a fantasy and it may be spoken as a story but it carries a message that trees
are what everyone needs. we need to plant them. fresh air is what everyone needs, and we must preserve it. we need to protect this planet from the axes that will hack it down as climate change most suredly will do. climate disruption, call it climate change, global warming whatever you will, is a threat that we have the opportunity and obligation to counter. we're taking baby steps. we need great strides. america must wake up, and so must the world. thank you mr. president. i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from rhode island. mr. whitehouse: may i inquire through the president if the senator from connecticut would be willing to engage in a brief colloquy. and if the answer is yes, i would propound the following
question: i know the senior senator from connecticut to be a very deeply believing patriot and he spoke in his remarks about how each american generation takes upon itself a covenant. i also know that the senior senator from connecticut serves on the armed services committee and has to consider as part of his responsibilities in the senate the power that america projects around the world, which is sometimes military power but also sometimes the soft power that comes from our role. and i know also that as a student of history senator blumenthal knows that president
lincoln described the united states of america as the last best hope of earth and that thomas jefferson in his first inaugural described this american government as the world's best hope. and finally i heard the senator say that climate change will have consequences. and i wonder if he would care to comment on what a failure to address climate change by the united states of america knowing the information that we know would mean, in terms of the kind of hope america is to the world in terms of the kind of credibility that america needs to project its soft power, is there a consequence that you could foresee in our foreign policy and in our national
security from fumbling and dropping this ball at this time? mr. blumenthal: thank you. if i may respond mr. president? thank you to the senator my colleague and friend from rhode island, with a question that really summarizes one of the key reasons we're here today. and i see that we've been joined by the senior senator from rhode island who is senior to me on the armed services committee and so knows better than i probably some of the answers that can be made to the question posed by the the senator from rhode island. but let me just say at the outset the military understands in some ways better than america the crisis of energy waste and
climate disruption that this nation and the world faces. indeed the military has taken steps to be greener in its increase use to use fuel cells and other renewable sources of power, because it knows the costs of excessive energy consumption, particularly oil-dependent and energy reliance on powers that will do us no good and mean us harm. energy dependence cannot be good for american strategic interest or american defense. and that is one of the reasons why our military is seek to go lead by example and i thank them for doing so. the secretary of the navy, for example, has spoken to me at great length, secretary mabus
about the use of new sources and renewable sources of power on the ships that take the navy to the farthest corners of the global. and so the american military is leading by example but america can lead by example. thomas jefferson and our founders thought that america would be the best hope for the world. in his example of leadership. and thomas jefferson said the world belongs to the living. let us resolve to let the living have a world that is worthy of that covenant that we make as americans to lead this nation better and stronger than it was when we took over. let us not fail on our watch. america can be a shining example in what it does, inspiring the world by that example. not by its mandates or its
military but by its peaceful use of energy in a way that preserves the planet. we can use renewables. in fact, in connecticut we make fuel cells that can power the world in a much more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly world. fuel cells are our future and they are made in danburr relationship and -- dan bury and torrington with job creation and economic booms that can result from addressing the opportunity as well as the obligation of climate change. i've spoken on the floor about those companies as well as about the connecticut climate action plan launched in 2005, the main goal of which is to substantially cut the amount of greenhouse gases being produced within our state. in connecticut, we are moving ahead, just as the nation must
move ahead with these kinds of an issue. the connecticut sea grant college program another example. it understands the opportunity and the obligation of this time in our history. we can translate climate disruption into a positive through these kinds of measures that we use to show the world that there is important profoundly important gain at hand here. the regional cooperation that connecticut has helped to lead in the connecticut energy finance and investment authority, the rggi program that kind of initiative is in microcosm what america can do for the world. and so the question posed by the senator from rhode island, who has helped to lead this debate
today, i think goes to the heart of what we are as americans as leaders in the world in providing the world an example of energy saving, respect for our planet addressing the problem that exists for us now denying the deniers their sway in this debate. i've heard from others on the floor here about how it's all a product of our imagination. but as ronald reagan said, the facts are a stubborn thing. and the facts show, regrettably and tragically, that climate disruption is destructive inplacable relentless. and only we can stop it. thank you mr. president. i yield the floor.
a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from rhode island. mr. reed: thank you very much, mr. president. i rise this morning to join my colleagues in calling for action to address climate change. this is a global challenge that has far-reaching consequences for our economy our public health and our national security. i first want to begin by thanking my colleague, senator schatz who's here with us, senator whitehouse, my colleague from rhode island, senator boxer, members of the senate climate task force for their leadership and for bringing so many of our colleagues to the floor last evening and through the early hours of this morning to call attention to this critical issue of climate change. this issue is daunting and difficult. one reason it's so daunting and difficult is that it is a slow-moving crisis.
we are often faulted for not responding to critical issues before us but we are certainly faulted for not responding for those who have responded over the many months and years. the nature of our attention span and political process and other issues crowd out these potential issues. but what we've seen as we look back has been a clear path of evidence suggesting that our climate is changing. and our climate is changing is ways that is going to disadvantageous. disadvantageous in terms of our economic productivity, our national security. going to disadvantageous in terms of things we take for granted. senator blumenthal and senator murphy and senator whitehouse and i have grown up along the new england coast. i'm a little older than my colleagues but in the 1950's and 1960's, those coasts had wide
beaches they had homes built along those beaches for middle-class workers. all of that has been literally eroded over the last several years, particularly these superstorms that have come up our coasts. and now we're seeing places that we saw as summer ideals, beautiful places that have been literally lost. homes upended by storms. areas that were frequent places for summer relaxation now gone because of rising seas, because of changing climate around our oceans and our bays and our estuaries. and this is just one example. they could go on and on and on. and this evidence is so clear-cut so condemning, so -- so convincing that we have to now take steps.
but across the globe these issues are also increasingly important. and it's not simply a localized issue. this is an issue that is impacting every person across every part of the globe. we see temperatures increasing sea levels rising, extreme water events becoming more frequent and heat-related illnesses and diseases are on the rise. and as i said before, these changes are being felt everywhere but they're being felt in rhode island, connecticut, hawaii all across this country. california has been enduring a crippling drought where other parts of the world we've seen unusually large rains. all of these weather patterns are a suggestion that there is a changing dynamic that has consequences. and we have to deal with these consequences. now, there are some that argue that we should take no action to
mitigate these impacts. because there is a cost of addressing these issues, a cost for our economy. in fact, the many proposals introduced in congress that would greatly restrict the u.s. e.p.a., for example are examples of this position, well, just see no evil, hear no evil, do nothing. that approach is just going to make this problem worse. that approach is going to make the cost for us but more profoundly for our children and the next generation of americans much more severe. we have to act wisely now of the we have to move forward wisely now. and i think we have to do so with the notion which i think is quite obvious and true is that sound environmental protection is not in contradiction to economic growth.
in fact, they have to work together hand in hand. they have to have the long-term combination of sound environmental policy to encourage sustainable economic growth. a healthy environment is essential for our economy and for our quality of light. indeed the strength -- quality of our life. indeed the strength of our economy is critical for the strength of our people, our natural resources and the cost of inaction, as i suggested is substantial and it will be paid. you know, we talked today about rising seas. and as you look at most of our major cities, they are many of them clustered right on the ocean. they started there. they were ports. they were ports of entry and exit for the united states. they were economic ports that drove economics for this country. but as seas rise, those are
jeopardized. there have been discussion in new york about building walls in lower manhattan. that whole process is a multibillion-dollar process and it may well have to be undertaken. certainly if we do nothing because the rise of these tides seems to be inevitable. but those are dollars that if we acted now could be mitigated or different tasks to be avoided if we take action now. and that's why my colleagues tried to galvanize us into this session, to underscore the need to act the need to act promptly. according to the u.s. global change research program economic losses from weather-related events including floods droughts and storms and have been increasing. that's the -- sort of the dynamic we're seeing. not only are we seeing an increase in these weather incidents but we're seeing them to a harmer scale.
and it seemsz seems to be an enlarging process, more and more incidents creating more damage. we in rhode island and our sister state connecticut and massachusetts saw some significant damage from sandy but we were not at the brunt of the storm. however, that was a factor that could have altered altered. indeed hours before the storm hit, we were afraid it would come pouring down on rhode island. fortunately we missed. but new york and new jersey suffered billions and billions of dollars. they're still trying to restore communities. they're still trying to restore services. but what we've seen is these storms come repeatedly. minority of vague histories in rhode island, it was the 36th
hurricane that game roaring through but that was a devastating event. and then there was the 1954 hurricane, hurricane carol and that was a devastating event. but there seems to be a decade or more, 15 years or more -- almost 20 years between those storms. in the interim the storms were the old-fashioned northeastern that would come and go, a little damage but nothing intense. but the capacity of the storms has shrunk in terms of their competitiveness and nearless in time. and what we're seeing is a barrage of economic events that have huge economic costs. according to data from the national oceanic and atmospheric administration since 18981 the united states has sustained 151
disasters whether overall damages reached or exceeded $2 billion. the total cost of these events costs $1 trillion. in 1220, the superstorm sandy it is midwest drought led to damages in excess of damages of $10 billion, making 2012 the second costliest year for disasters. and let's stop and think. these disasters that's $110 billion or so in superstorm sandy and some of the otherriness deantsotherincidents that took place in 25012 that if they were allowed public resources would come. this is not free to us. if there is proceed lounged drought in the west that produce more forest fires and there is a
rough correlation for that too peel pay for that. we'll have to fight those fires. that is a huge amount of federal spending. before one dollar goes to an i understand ient health care center before $1 goes to a federal system to support higher education, before one dollar of that goes anywhere, we have to tonight to those answers. that's just one example. that's coming from the commission established by a drought. when you look at the coastal storms are pairing down on us. we have to fix the shattered roads that line the coastlines. we have the sewer systems that have been shattered pie these storms. it's not avoid an. so tease these costs keep accumulating and there's another
of not being able to invest more in infrastructure and lower- lower-coast nrming. now, we have to recognize that, as i said before, my state has been impacted by any other state of these different weather storm storms. we sustained significantly damages. our coastline is increasingly null verbal. that's the ear factor. these storms beac enowr code line and our pairier so when the next storm comes the damage is more severe. and when the next one comes it's worst. this accumulating effect is accelerating so rapidly that these tadges are making us more ask month ofand more big. there used to be a time when the
coast could recover. a decade ago instead of a storm in the spring or fall, you had an accumulation of beach sand, of the ocean depositing sand, not ripping it away in the storm. and that something seem to be happening. and so we have to recognize this and we have to recognize also that we have a federal per speck active but the states are also also -- perspective but the states are also spending a huge amount of money to on responding to the effects of storm. and that also diverts their effort from education, from health care, from all the things the states have to do. and this is not just a nationallish eye. inthis is not a regional issue it's a global issue. and it touches on issues of national security, which is what my colleague, the senator from
company con, spoke to about. the rising waiters and they're rates are for very simple reasons. as the water temperature increases, water expands. that's just simple thermo dynamics is all i remember from west point. but as this water expands see levels right. and that's going to keep happening. and if you've measured simply the water temperatures in the waters around new england over the last 20, 30 years that means the water levels will go out. there's no sin sten force out there. there's no whirling machine that's driving the water. there's no high-level combination of winds coming together. that might happen. that's the nature of a storm. but daily water keeps rising because molecules get farther apart as they heat up. that water rise is significant to us in rhode island.
it's catastrophic to other places. bangladesh is a country that is essentially on the water in many parts as opposed to being over water. as the sea level rise you have a situation with a relatively poor country that has had problems with its neighbors that just to seek shelter people would be forced to move in to put pressure on the boundaries. it could cause tremendous problems. and that's just one example. in pakistan, we have invested a huge amount of money to work with the government of pakistan to provide assistance as they battle their taliban to provide assistance as we move supplies through there to our forces in afghanistan. and the floods, the seasonal droughts chaotic weather that they've seen there weakens an
already weak government. and this is repeated time and time and time again across the globe. so this is, again not just an issue about whether we're going to preserve our beaches preserve our coast save money here in the united states that could go for more meaningful reasons. it could pose a serious national security threat as people are forced together with political issues already and now under the threat of environmental catastrophe are changing borders, migrating moving, in conflict creating huge problems undermining the weak governments that already exist in these areas of the world providing further pressure on these governments and resulting in these chaotic situations which is the breeding ground for much of the terror and much of the carnage that we see across the globe. and it's related.
and we have to recognize that. but there's another part of this too, that's often neglected. it's a challenge yes. it's a serious challenge. but also it's an opportunity as we see it. it's an opportunity to build jobs, to deal with this evolving problem. and in, frankly the american spirit, one of our greatest characteristics is we saw challenge, but we also saw opportunity. other nations just saw challenge. they didn't roll up their sleeves and deal with some of the issues as we did as our predecessors did as our parents did. and now it's our turn. will we roll up our sleeves look at this as a real serious challenge, not ignore it but deal with it? and if we do that, we can create good jobs. we can create jobs that will reward people and contribute to an improved environment.
weatherization, for example it supports highly of highly skilled -- supports thousands of highly skilled workers in related businesses, materials supplies manufacturers et cetera. and this is a real way to deal with the issue of climate change. when you make homes more weather-type better insulated whatever the appropriate term is when you don't waste energy, you don't have to use as much, when you cut down demand, you don't have to generate as much and put as much into the atmosphere when you do these things on a widespread basis you put a lot of people to work. and these are the types of jobs that many people have the skills to do and are rewarding. and we can do them. and we save ourselves. we save energy, we save pollution, we save the warming that comes from just spewing excess energy into the environment. and we put people to work.
and it's a low-cost, effective way to deal with employment and with energy. we have to do more of these things. and it's not as they say rocket science. this is no fabulous, new high-tech application that was developed. this is just giving people and communities the resources and the support to go out there and put better insulation in buildings, to try to use more alternate energy sources to try to put better windows in and better doors so it holds the heat. this is just straightforward but very powerful. it can help curb energy consumption, particularly for low-income people it can reduce the cost of energy. one of the problems, again -- i see my new england colleagues around -- we face in new england is our energy costs are three times as high as the rest of the country. one is a poor distribution
system. two, we have a system also where we are literally paying for some of the pollution in the midwest. it comes out of tall stacks. it's taken at high altitudes and then it desends into new england and northeast. we have to compensate not only for our pollution but also other areas of the country. all these factors come together. my point is we can do a lot collectively across the country. it's not just a challenge. it's a huge opportunity. that means getting our public policies here in washington right. that means investing in better energy, investing in better distribution systems investing in improving those systems that exist. one of our problems in terms of the natural gas distribution in new england is not only is it old and inefficient in terms of delivering gas it leaks methane, which is not a very good environmental component to release.
so we have, i think challenges before us. and we want to go ahead and deal with these challenges. we see across the globe increases in participation increases in droughts, sea level rising, storm surges becoming greater. all of these are going to put to test every system we have. our road systems i haven't seen the roads as poor in the northeast in my life. highways 95, potholes everywhere. why? we've had so many storms over the last two years, so much plowing and so little dollars to do the repairs that the roads now are you're bouncing along on a highway like you were not in the united states of america but some second or third world country. and that's a consequence too. indirect but a consequence of the weather and our inability to marshal the resources to deal with the weather. not just clearing the snow, but
then going in and repaving the roads. and we see that everywhere. but we have to do more. and this is a threat to our fisheries. it's a threat to our drinking water. it's a threat to our quality of life. again, following up in rhode island we took for grant in the 1950's and 1960's, a short ride to a beautiful beach; big broad, beautiful beach swimming in the water not worrying about the beach being closed because of environmental conditions, toxic conditions in the water. some of that has changed. and we have to go back and reestablish that quality that lifestyle. it's not just all about dollars and cents. it's also about the quality of our lives. as i've said before -- and let me conclude -- this is not again, just an issue of domestic policy localized issues. this touches upon the our national security.
ironically we debate budgets of billions and billions of dollars, about platforms about what kind of assistance we'll have -- kinds of systems we'll have in the air, in the sea, on the sea. ironically, one of the things that is likely to trigger the engagement of forces is this growing environmental crisis throughout the world. someone -- i think it was one of the defense ministers to nigeria said the greatest problem the east is facing with the rise of these bands of radicalized young people is the fact because of decification in parts of this country, traditional farming livelihood and growth have been
taken away. so young people can get a gun and that is their new job. i think we have to be very serious about the national security consequences also. and so we are moving forward i hope to recognize these environmental challenges that is also national security challenges. there is one thing that was very revealing to me and that is a few years ago when the navy announced that the arctic ocean would be able to be commercially transitative during certain parts of the year. growing up in the 1950's and 1960's and 1970's if someone told me the arctic ocean would be a commercial highway for ships i would say that's impossible. it's frozen, always will be frozen. that is not the case. last year arctic sea ice reached an all time low and as climate change accelerates the sea ice will invariably make that a source of navigation. it will create new opportunities and shorter shipping routes but
new challenges. who will patrol those seas? will we have to create just a pacific fleet but antarctic fleet? that costs money. who owns the rights? who has access to that area? so we're looking at huge problems that even ten years ago we thought were fanciful. and it underscores -- my final point i want to make is that we see this climate process this climate change coming, and it doesn't seem to be affecting us minute by minute so there's a tendency to be rather cavalier about it, beyond the people who out-and-out deny it, which i think ignores the facts of science, but people who do recognize tend to take it, yes we've got time. but what we're seeing is not just the intensity of these incidents. we're seeing them accelerating and consequence accelerating with such rapidity with what we
thought might be a huge problem a few years from now might be half of that time. and so we have to act. i want to conclude by thanking my colleagues, senator boxer senator white house because they have caused us to come forward to recognize this issue to see the challenges, but also to seize the opportunity. and in doing so, they have done remarkable work for this senate and for this country. and with that, mr. president, i would yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from rhode island. mr. whitehouse: mr. president before i yield the floor to senator udall of new mexico, this may be my last chance to speak before the all-night session comes to its end because i'm about to come and relieve the presiding officer. in fact, i'm overdue for that. but did i want to take this moment since it may be my last one to say a few thank yous. as one of the instigators of
this episode i want to thank my staff, in particular, for all their work that went into this. i want to thank the parliamentarians and the senate clerk staff who had a long night with us, and i appreciate it very, very much. there's only one page i see on the floor remain -- no, there's another one. i want to thank all the pages. many of them stayed here through the night. it was a very long night for them. and i appreciate very much their effort. and then throughout the building because the senate had to be kept open, there were people who were kept here, the capitol police and others. it's much appreciated. one of the things about the senate is that when we're in session, the light on the top of the capitol stays on. so all night last night people across the city could look and they could see that the light in the capitol stayed on all night. i hope that wasn't the only light that was shed last night but at least it's an example.
i just express my appreciation to all of the people that we inconvenienced in order to make this point. mrs. boxer: would the senator yield before we hear from my good friend? would the senator -- mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from california. mrs. boxer: mr. president, i want to thank also everyone who made this evening possible. and i want to say to my cochair of the climate action task force, senator whitehouse, what a privilege it is to work with him and his passion on this runs deep. and to senator schatz, who -- from hawaii, is witnessing climate change in real time, just as so many of us are who are coastal states. and i'm so looking forward to hearing senator tom udall because -- and i'm not going to quote him because i hope he'll say what he said in front of the environment committee when he was a new member. he called attention to what's
happening in the west. and all you have to do is read the papers to see the suffering that's going on. so i also want to say because time is wasting here that this was something that i think has caught on, has caught the attention of the people. i could tell you well more than 100,000 people, well more, have signed various pigs calling -- petitions calling on congress to wake. i'm under no illusions that our colleagues on the republican side watched us. so let's be clear. but when senator inhofe said before he left you're talking to yourselves i took great offense at that because the vast majority of the american people understand climate change is real. there's no doubt about it. no more than the doubts that, you know, people have that cigarettes don't cause cancer. we know this is a fact, and for
us to close our eyes to this fact is closing our eyes to the people that we -- we represent and who we care about. so again my deepest thanks to all the staff in the entire building to all my colleagues senator whitehouse informed me we're about to hear from the 30th senator. that's incredible. 30% of the senate participated in this. so i will yield back my time again with my deepest thanks. there's more to come from the climate action task force. we're just getting started folks. we'll sister lots -- have lots more and the next time we do something it's going to engage a lot of other folks as well. thank you very much. i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from fume new mexico. mr. udall: thank you mr. president,. thank you madam chair for your very kind words. senator boxer is the chairman of the committee that deals with
climate change legislation and has been ever present in terms of trying to see if we can come up with a bipartisan solution and get legislation. and i was just very proud to serve on her committee when the obama administration came in and the senate sat down to work and was really trying to do something about climate change. and, unfortunately we ran out of time, but we still as you can see by the number of senators that have spoken, we're up to 30 now we still have incredible passion about this issue. we know it's a serious problem the american people know it's a serious problem and we want something done. now, what have we learned? what have we learned? i've watched my colleagues over the night. i guess i'm number 30th and i've watched what they've been talking about. one of the things we've learned and the tradition here in the senate is normally if we're
talking like this and our colleagues on the republican side of the aisle want to come down and exchange with us, they can do that. that's our tradition to say we speak and then they speak. what we've ended up seeing is one republican senator show up in this 12 plus, 13-hour period is my understanding. i think i'm right on that. i've asked people that were here that is what was reported on npr this morning. and that to me is tremendously sad, tremendously sad because in the glory days of the senate in the 1960's, when major -- 1960's and 1970's, major environmental legislation, major conservation organizations legislation remember these the wilderness act, the clean water act clean air, endangered species act, these were passed with significant bipartisan support.
and we don't see that effort today and it just makes me very sad. we're here all night and trying to engage and trying to say this is something the american people believe is serious and we need to, we need to engage on this issue. so what i'm going to do today is talk a little bit about new mexico and how new mexico and the southwest are at the bull's-eye when it comes to climate change and what do i mean by that? well if new mexico is at one temperature, the -- and you compare that with the rest of opportunity, so let's say in the rest of the country you have a 1% rise, new mexico's going to be 2%. so there's the doubling effect in the southwest. so this is just a map of new mexico but we're talking the southwest period. so first of all let me -- let me talk a little bit about the
drought that we've had. here we are from june, 2011 to the present a drought of epic proportions. the u.s. drought monitor shows that more than 90% of new mexico is in extreme drought. northern and western new mexico got some precipitation last year but several other areas of the state remain mostly dry. you can see this is extreme the other is moderate and so you add it together, a significant, significant impact. and these are the kinds of challenges we're going to face with -- with climate change, and -- and just to talk a little bit more about these impacts, i'd now like to go to chart two and look at the snow pack in northern new mexico and southern colorado, watersheds. they only range from one half to
three-fourths of what normally would be there. so this is a winter picture. normally the kind of thing you would see in northern new mexico at this time of year, you would see a massive snow pack. why is that important? that's important because in the summer when we start using the water, we start irrigating, the farmers start doing things, they recharge the aquifer. so if you don't have a snow pack you don't have that kind of recharge and you don't have this storage levels of drinking water. just to pick one of our communities, santa fe, new mexico gets 40% of its water from the ground. and it gets another big chunk of the water from reservoirs. those reservoirs are fed when you have a snow pack and when the ground gets recharged and it flows off and flows into those
reservoirs. so that is something that makes a huge impact when you don't have -- when you don't have a snow pack and when you have a decreasing amount of precipitation. we're going to see more and more of this as we move down the road when you look at the modeling that's been done by the experts that are working on this. now, this is a particularly -- this next slide particularly disturbing slide in terms of water. once again i remember it being roughly at this place on the rio grande just last year in the middle of the summer. this photo is showing a very meager amount of water. when i was there last summer, there was no water. there was no water. it was completely dry. so here the river that flows the
whole length of the state of new mexico gets down to southern new mexico, el paso and texas rely on it, mexico relies on it, our neighbor to the south. there was no water to be seen. and so it once again dramatically dramatically shows the impacts and -- the impacts of climate change and the impacts as we see this move down the road. let me talk about one experience with ranchers and farmers that i think really brings this home in terms of water. there's a flood control project in talk up cary -- tucumcari, new mexico, created in the middle of the great depression everybody in the community invested in it, the federal government invested in it. what these projects do is they have duel for what purpose does. -- dual for what purpose does.
one if there is a big flood to control the flood the second thing is to hold the water when you get to the irrigation season you can have irrigated farmland. so they did this in the 1930's. several hundred farmers and ranchers i think about 600 700, rely on this ploj and have been relying on this project since the 1930's. i visited this community recently and learned from the people that run the project and from the farmers and ranchers that in the last couple of years, zero water no water at all. they had never seen this ever since the 1930's, even though when we went through just very serious conditions in the 1950's it was thought to be one of the biggest droughts, no water. the last 10 or 1 years this particular -- 12 years this particular project same thing, very, very little water. so what ends up happening as a result of that, farmers and ranchers cannot plant the
ranchers sell off their herds just to show you how dramatic it is in new mexico, we have ended up seeing 50% of our cattle herds sold off this last year. so people are hurting so badly in terms of this drought that they're unable to keep their livestock on the land, and they end up having to pull the livestock off. so this is -- this is a devastating impact to people that live closest to the ground. i've been out on the land in new mexico with conservationists and with scientists and talked to them about climate change, and one of the things that i try to describe and what i've learned -- and i think this is what chairman boxer is talking about when i made a presentation in one of the committees -- is if you take the modeling, the modeling that's been done on climate change in the
southwest, and particularly focusing on new mexico, and what -- what you do with that modeling is you ask yourself where are we going to be 50 years are down the line. so we know that the modeling because we've just had a study at los alamos national laboratory that says by 2050 -- that's less than 50 years -- we're not going to have any forests in new mexico. so much of this area of northern new mexico and down here, forests throughout that area. so they're saying it looks like no forests. much less water as i've just talked about. water that is unable -- you don't get snow pack, you can't charge the system back. and the most dramatic thing that was described to me is what happens here is 50 years from
now if you use these numbers just these are the conservative numbers, these aren't the ones where many of the scientists nowadays are saying we have -- we're taking conservative numbers but many scientists are saying it's happening quicker it's moving faster. and what they tell us, imagine as on a computer screen how you can drag things. if you click on new mexico and drag it 300 miles to the south new mexico here is over 300 miles so you're moving the top of new mexico all the way down 300 miles to the south. what do you get? you're in the middle of the chihuahua desert in new mexico. so -- in mexico. so what was a dramatic forested area what was an area was very acceptable to the gentlemanfrom and -- farming and ranching,
devastating impacts. those are the kinds of things and i could go on and on here but the thing that -- about the impacts and we could talk about how one of our reservoirs at elephant butte has the lowest level in 40 years a great recreational lake which people used on -- this is a picture in june of 1994 of the reservoir. here's the picture today. so dramatically, dramatically different. the thing that i wanted to highlight as i close here, because i know that we're trying to wrap up after we've been going for many, many hours is that new mexico has been focusing on solutions. one of the solutions that's right at the front of us, sitting there is renewable energy. we know that we're going to have to deal with this problem one
way or another. it's much better to deal with it earlier. so in new mexico, we're doing everything we can to foster the solar power industry. you can see solar power to beat coal prices in new mexico. right now the solar installations that are going up are very competitive in terms of coal. wind power. this once again in new mexico, we have installed wind capacity of 778 megawatts. new mexico ranks 19th for a total of megawatts installed. so we have all over new mexico up on our mes as as you can see here these wind turbines collecting the energy from the wind. the number of wind turbines, 575, new mexico ranks 17th
for the number of utility scale wind turbines. current wind generation in new mexico provided by the wind is 6.1%. so just a few years ago when we put in place a renewable electricity standard we had a lower level and we've been pushing that up and that's one of the things we need to do at the national level. my cousin and i worked in the house of representatives before we were in the senate to get a national renewable electricity standard. so this is something we have to do that is a solution. we shouldn't as i laid out all of the things earlier the devastating impacts, one of the things that we should realize is there are solutions they're here today the technology is perfected, and we're able to put those into place. now, the final area of renewable energy that i wanted to talk about is this -- this
is called -- and we have huge potential here in the southwest, it's called advance biofuels. and in new mexico, this is a facility -- i've been to this facility and seen the experimentation -- experimentation that they're doing. they have taken land and they are farming algae and what this -- what eventually ends up with this algae is it's refined and the algae becomes a very, very good fuel. so that is something that is once again a solution to this problem. and so we shouldn't despair when we look at the impacts of climate change and when we look in the the future as to what people are going to predict because we know we have the ability to cultivate -- cultivate solutions and i'm just very proud of my state chairman boxer how we have
really worked to cultivate these sources of renewable energy and we're moving it up with our renewable electricity standard, we're moving it up higher and higher every year. i'm just very very proud to have been a part of this effort the 30th senator to stand up and speak about this. i guess we've been going about 13, 14 hours. once again i can't -- i can't close without mentioning, i wish we had our friends and colleagues on the republican other side of the aisle down here to engage us. i don't know what to conclude but that either they don't care about this or don't want to engage with us, we only had one in this 14-hour period, one republican senator show up. this sure isn't like the glory days of the senate when so many republicans participated with democrats to tackle the big problems that
faced our country. and this is a problem that faces the entire world. so we need the united states united and the entire world working together in a cooperative way to solve this. so with that, i yield the floor and i thank the president that's up there. he was a key person in terms of organizing this, senator shell tkor whitehouse from rhode island -- senator sheldon whitehouse from rhode island. and i yield to my good friend from massachusetts elizabeth warren. ms. warren: thank you. mr. president? the presiding officer: the senior senator from massachusetts. ms. warren: thank you mr. president. and thank you senator udall. i'm proud to join with my colleagues speaking out on climate change. senators have been speaking on this issue since yesterday all through the night to add their voices to the millions of voices around this country who are committed to fighting climate change. the level of commitment we've seen from these senators is extraordinary. and we will need extraordinary
commitment here in congress around the country and around the world to address this issue. we will need that commitment because we are on the cusp of a climate crisis, a point of no return that will threaten our health our economy and our world. we are also on the cusp of innovations in clean energy and energy efficiency that have the possibility of transforming energy production and consumption. in other words, we are at a moment of great danger and great opportunity. a moment where we must make choices about whether we will go boldly into the future, investing in innovation, establishing serious and smart regulations and committing to address the climate crisis. or whether we will continue to subsidize fossil fuels of the past and ignore the risks to our
future. it is up to us. doing something new is hard because when it comes to environmental and energy issues in this country powerful, entrenched deep-pocketed corporations are lined up to fight any change from the status quo. these powerful corporations defend policies that poison our air and foul our water with little regard for the well-being of future generations. these powerful interests work hard to tilt the playing field so that energy entrepreneurs and innovators have a hard time getting a foot hold in the market. and these powerful interests too often have a stranglehold on our political system, blocking not only bold change but even conservative market-based reforms. when it comes to environmental and energy policy, the system is rigged. it's rigged against our families and it's rigged against our
future. let me give just one example. in 2012, the five biggest oil companies -- exxonmobil, shell b.p. and conocophillips, made combined profits of $118 billion. at the same time they sucked down billions of dollars in tax subsidies from the american people. over ten years oil and gas companies will receive $40 billion in taxpayer subsidies. and if the republicans have their way these companies will get even bigger breaks in their taxes. just think about what $40 billion could mean for our future. a serious investment in research to figure out the problem of energy storage and to develop better batteries incentives for wind and solar installation,
certainty and predictability for investors and entrepreneurs who have a big idea in green energy or energy efficiency and want to build a new business. and here's the point to underline: we can invest in research and develop new markets without spending any new money if we just shift our priorities from old fossil fuel energy to new clean energy. a tax policy that protects these poufrl interests of the -- powerful interests of the past is a tax policy rigged against innovators of the future. it is rigged against families that want their children to live in a world where they can drink the water and breathe the air. so mr. president in preparation for the speech that i'm giving -- i was going to say this evening but it's this morning now -- i ask americans to write in and talk about how their lives will be affected if
we do not get serious about climate change. my question was a simple one: if we don't do anything at all to stop climate change, what do you think the world will look like 25 years from now? i'd like to read some of the responses for the record. these are just a few of the more than 5,000 letters i received on this issue. it's obvious to me that the people of massachusetts and the people of our great nation are worried about this problem so let me read just from some of their letters. blake hatey of brook line, massachusetts writes i served on a u.s. ice breaker in the arctic 1959 to 1961 and saw that relatively pristine region with intact permafrost and a heavy sea ice well into the summer off baffen island in new york. now much of the ocean ice cover
is disappearing and is predicted to be entirely gone by the end of the 2030 summer season. currently there is open water across the northwest passage in summer and shipping has become routine, which is a profound change already. there will be untold alterations from the warming arctic ocean to accompany the rapidly melting greenland ice cap which have the potential to change global currents and further escalate global warming trends. there is still a narrow time window to address this looming crisis disaster, but action must be forceful and rampant to escape its worst aspects. i fear for my children and grandchildren's future. a letter from susan timberlake of florence, massachusetts, "i used to be a clinical chem mist. we made up buffers as part of our tools that kept solution at the p.h. that is relative
acidity that you desired even as you added things that would upset the p.h.. really good buffers have really good capacity. co2 dissolved in water as a bicarbonate has pretty good buffering capability. once all the buffering capacity is used up, the p.h. change is precipitous. the p.h. shifts radically and directly as anything else is added to the solution. you lose any control you had over the chemical reactions. and here's where she makes the connection. "the oceans are where much of our excess co2 is going. so far the oceans have been absorbing the co2 but the coral reefs and star fish on the west coast of america don't lie. we have no idea how much buffering capacity is left or not. if we keep this up, we will have a well-carbonated acidic and
quite dead ocean." that's not something i can bear leaving for my children and grandchildren. she adds, "and i'm a registered republican a conservationist in the real sense." a letter from nila m. mcdonald in situit, massachusetts. "we're about two miles from the coast. in 25 years we could be flooded out. also storms are worsening and we have been left without power for days at a time, which has endangered our health. in 25 years populations who live at sea level become climate refugees as sea levels rise. this will affect people worldwide. crops will be threatened by droughts and floods. diseases now in check will become rampant as the planet warms. mosquitoes are the deadliest animal vector for human diseases
and their numbers will range and increase greatly with climate change. dorothy bagley of hudson, massachusetts, writes, "if folks think this has been a bad winter in new england and weird all over the world consider how much worse it will be in 25 years. areas of concern to me are weather changes affecting crops water supplies, flooding, et cetera. our whole style of life is in danger. i'm a retired chemistry teacher and i know what the effect of temperature is on chemical reactions. our world is one big chemistry experiment with so many variables which compound the problems. we can take steps however small they might seem, like -- changing the nation's attitude about recycling changing our transportation by making our
cars more efficient. education and focus are the keys. people need to know that they can affect a change of positively and negatively. unless citizens' attitude change toward any of the above nothing will help to minimize what will be in 25 years. a letter from mon cochran of orleans, massachusetts writes dear elizabeth i'm 72 years old and living on cape cod where i grew up. when i was a kid in the 1940's my parents and other very old people used to tell scary stories about the hurricane of 1938 and how it knocked down all the trees and blew the roofs off houses. we saw pictures of boats smashed off the shore or carried into the streets by the flood tides. as i grew up in orleans we experienced a series of
hurricanes. each time our parents remembered 1938 and each time i remember being very, very scared as the forms barreled across the bay like furious freight trains while we cowered in the basement. in 1960 donna came through. even though i was 18 years old bithen the fear that the house would be -- by then the fear that the house would be destroyed caused nightmares. now i'm a grandfather and understand why hurricanes can be so stkrubgtdive. for -- destructive. for the past 20 years or so we have been lucky on the cape. most of the bad hurricanes have been confined to the caribbean or turned inland before reaching us. my grandchildren tom kay and i have been learning about global warming together and we are noticing in particular how our bay and the ocean it connects to seems to be warmer every year. the ocean water over at nassat
bay is so warm in the summer that we can a pwaog -- bogey board without getting cold. the more energy is available to the storm the stronger it becomes, we have learned. kay and tom are scared by the picture of super storm sandy they saw on tv and are worried a storm like that, or worse might hit us here in south orleans. as for me, i think it is just a matter of time, but i don't tell them that. they live in boston and have visions of a great wall of water roaring into boston harbor, knocking down the buildings on to the waterfront and surging up into the neighborhood where they live in roslindale. from what i have been learning we have pumped so much carbon into the area these much more extreme storms are likely to occur no matter what we do. but if we redouble our efforts to shift to clean