tv U.S. Senate Sens. Cortez Masto Wyden on Green New Deal CSPAN March 30, 2019 11:35am-11:57am EDT
upset at the opportunity to back up their new philosophy with their votes. what an outrage to actually vote on something we say we're for. well, later today, we'll see, the american people will see, they will see which of their senators can do the commonsense thing and vote no on this destructive socialist daydream. and they will see which senators are so fully committed to radical left-wing ideology that they can't even vote no on self-inflicted economic ruin that would take a sledgehammer to ask that the quorum be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. cortez masto: thank you. madam president, i stand today with my colleagues on a democratic aisle to talk about the real impacts of climate change. climate change is real. it is happening not only in our
communities, but it's harming our country. it's impacting our economy and it's threatening the future of our kids. you can see it clearly in my home state of nevada. the last four years have been the hottest ever on record, and we're on track to break that record again in 2019. in nevada, we're seeing longer, more dangerous heat waves, prolonged droughts and more severe wildfire seasons. just this past year more than 660,000 acres of private bureau of land management and u.s. forest service land burned in 138 fires starting in june of 2018. the biggest fire in our state's history and also one of the biggest in our country's history happened just this past year. the martin fire burned more than 439,000 acres. that's an area about five times the size of las vegas.
i have heard from nevada ranchers who are facing the tough choice to abandon the land their families have worked for generations due to the cost of recovery and the threat of even worse fire seasons. and i've met with parents in las vegas and reno who are worried about the impact worsening air quality will have on the health of their children because of climate change and these wildfires. it's not just happening in nevada. throughout our country americans are being displaced and communities are being ravaged by devastating hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires, and floods that are causing millions of dollars in damage to homes, businesses, and local economies. and worldwide carbon emission levels reached a record high last year, increasing 3.1% in the u.s. alone, despite evidence that high emissions are driving changes in our climate and fueling extreme weather patterns. yet, this administration and
the republican leader have done nothing to act despite overwhelming support from americans who want us to protect our planet and our communities. in my home state, nevadans know the stakes. in 2016, colorado college polled voters in six western states about their views on climate change. at the time 58% of nevadans expressed concerns that climate change was a serious problem. in january, nevadans were polled again. this time almost 75% of nevadans expressed serious concerns about climate change. that's a 16% jump in three years and comes months after 60% of nevadans supported a ballot initiative to expand nevada's renewable energy portfolio to 50% by 2030. across the country americans are worried about the impacts of pollution and carbon emissions on our climate, health, and our economy. they've seen the harm it's caused just over the last
decade, and they are afraid it is getting worse. you don't have to look far to see that our climate is changing. it's already happening in our own backyards. we have the evidence. there is scientific consensus. this isn't a fringe theory or a hypothesis asking to be debunked. it's a serious crisis that must be met with serious action. it's clear to younger generations of americans who walk out of schools, who actually walked out of schools this month to demand climate action from their representatives in washington. yet despite overwhelming evidence that climate change is currently threatening our country, leader mcconnell and this administration are sitting on their hands. this administration has repeatedly tried to scrub climate change information from federal agency websites. it supported agency officials with deep ties to fossil fuel industries and pulled the united states out of a critical
international agreement that we need to collectively work together to address climate disaster. in the senate instead of working to find bipartisan solutions to one of our country's greatest threats, leader mcconnell is setting up a vote designed to be nothing more than a political stunt. my democratic colleagues and i take the threat of climate change seriously. we won't support the republican leader's newest political game to call -- to address climate change, and we call it a sham vote. this isn't a vote about legislation. it's a cynical attempt to distract from the challenge confronting our country. the fact is democrats all agree that we need to take urgent action to protect our environment and avert climate catastrophe. senate democrats have put forth many new ideas on how to grow our economy and support american prosperity while addressing our world's growing climate crisis. we'd be happy, happy to work
with our colleagues to debate them on the floor. from my seat on the senate energy and natural resources committee, i'm continuing to fight for legislation to tackle climate change by supporting renewable energy production, protecting workers and creating good-paying green jobs in nevada and across the country. i call on leader mcconnell and my republican colleagues. if you're serious about addressing climate change, then join us. senate democrats will continue to fight for commonsense policies that reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and combat climate change and we will continue to call on our colleagues across the aisle to work with us to tackle this challenge in both the house and the senate, democrats are working every day to craft smart and effectively policies that will help safeguard our planet and grow our economy. by forcing a vote now, senator mcconnell is denying us all the chance to come together to
craft bipartisan comprehensive climate change legislation through the legislative process. the american people want action now. i won't stand for republican leaders using this vote in a cynical effort to divide democrats and stall progress. i intend to keep my promise to fight on this issue and to protect the most vulnerable and marginalized who often bear the brunt of the effect of unchecked climate change. senate democrats will keep fighting because our planet and our future depend on it. thank you, madam president, and i yield the floor. a senator: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from oregon. mr. wyden: madam president, the democrats on this side believe that climate change is a real and urgent problem.
the republican leader seems to believe it's not a problem at all. the majority leader has scheduled votes today on a version of the green new deal. i was proud to be a sponsor of that. i want to make sure that nobody believes what's happening today on this floor is part of a serious debate. the fact is it is a sham debate about the growing and urgent problem of climate change. the green new deal is all about offering a mission statement, a statement of direction on the urgency of climate change. it's about recognizing the staggering threat and encouraging everybody to come forward to bring up good ways to tackle it. as the ranking democrat on the finance committee outlined, i will outline just one of them
this afternoon. it's a bill. it's a revolution. excuse me. it's not a bill. it's a resolution. and that is why it is a head scratcher to hear all these far-fetched attacks on the green new deal in the media and here on this floor. so let's be clear about what the green new deal says. this resolution. nobody is out there banning cheeseburgers. if you want to eat an ice cream sandwich and wash it down with a milkshake, nobody's going to be taking that milkshake out of your hands either. i don't know what this antifood legislation is that i keep hearing opponents talk about, but it certainly isn't the green new deal. and i'll tell you that my son, william peter wyden, age 11, is specifically going to make
sure that his papa doesn't sign on to something like that. so there is no building trains to hawaii, nobody banning airplanes, nobody trying to take people's cars. the green new deal is about bringing good ideas to bear in the fight against climate change. that's what the american people are demanding action on. i will tell you this issue comes up at every town hall meeting that i hold. just over the last week i was in rural counties, counties where donald trump won by an enormous percentage, and people understood what climate change was all about because of these wildfires we've had. madam president, these are not your grandfather's wildfires. these are infernos. we have had them leap the columbia river.
they're more powerful, they're more dangerous. fire season isn't just for a couple of months in the summer. it's almost year-round. in my home state, we had to get used to what amounts to clean air refugees when fires burn near populated areas where folks, particularly folks who are of modest income have literally nowhere to go and can't go outside. anybody who hasn't been to the columbia river gorge should know that when a fire leaps the columbia river, you're talking about something very different. very, very different. and rivers have historically blocked the spread of wildfires. not anymore. last year dozens of people were killed and more than 10,000 structures destroyed by the fire camp, the most destructive -- excuse me, camp fire.
the most destructive fire in california history. these infernos are happening across the west. washington, nevada, colorado, montana, and elsewhere. and climate change isn't just about fires. it drives extreme temperatures in both directions. extreme cold is a danger to millions of people during the winter. warmer temperatures in spring and summer bring more rain and more floods to so much of the country. elsewhere, especially in the west, the threat of drought looms continuously. the hurricanes battering the east coast and gulf of mexico are intensifying. it seems like every week another group of prominent scientists warns about mass extinction events, ecological failures and run-away temperature increases. and there are great economic impacts as a result of all this. americans, when they face the
future of extreme temperatures, bigger storms, and hotter fires mean that it will cost more money to rebuild the city that's been flooded by a hurricane or burned in an infer inferno. we're going to see increases in insurance premiums go up when weather-related damage becomes more common. and if you really want to know how serious this problem is, look at these private insurance premiums. the market is telling us how serious this problem is.it requt and cool more homes and workplaces in extreme temperatures. now, i want to close with just one last point, madam president, because i think there is a little bit of confusion about the direction the senate ought to go. now, i mentioned that the green new deal is really a mission
statement, a resolution, a sense of urgency that we ought to be all about. i want to contrast that with the original new deal, which was actual legislation, something like 15 bills, certainly more than a dozen major ones. my sense is that's what congress is going to have do in the years ahead with respect to climate. let me give an example. we talked about the mission of the resolution where weed like to -- we'd like to go. here's an example of what we ought to work on with respect to legislation. i pointed out as a senior democrat on the senate finance committee, there are more than 40 separate tax breaks for energy on the federal tax books -- 40 separate tax breaks for energy. many of them -- in fact, the tax code as it relates to energy is
essentially anchored in dirty energy tax relics of yesterday. now that tax writers write dirty checks to dirty energy companies is that we replace that. you can't stand up to climate change as long as you're ladling out all of those tax subsidies to dirty energy. so what i have proposed is taking those 40-plus energy tax breaks and basically just throwing them in the trashcan. in effect throwing them into the trash it can -- trashcan that's right next to our desk. and would substitute those
40-plus tax breaks and substitute it for clean full and one for energy efficiency. i would like to think that the democrats and republicans, playing off of this idea, are going to be able to say, hey, we can find common ground on this because what it would mean for companies all across the country when they buy a new piece of equipment for their company, they are invariably going to make sure it's cleaner and more energy efficient than what's on their factory floor. so they would qualify for two out of the three new energy incentives i'm talking about. that's something we could have a real debate on. that's not a sham debate. that's a real debate. yesterday senator alexander, our republican colleague from the president's state, came to the
floor, he said he believes climate change is real, it is called by -- caused by man and called for a manhattan project for clean energy. i heard it. it sounds like he has plenty of ideas that could make for a real debate between democrats and republicans. senator alexander sits right over there, not far from our colleague from iowa, senator ernst. he's talking about real ideas after acknowledging that climate change is a problem and that man contributes to it. i hope some of my colleagues on the other side will follow senator alexander's lead. that's a debate the senate ought to have. it ought to have a debate about what senator alexander is talking about, we ought to have a debate about throwing the 40 separate tax breaks for energy in the garbage and substituting for them three new ones that reflect our most current
challenges. that is the way the senate is supposed to function. you recognize a problem, you come forward with ideas in a serious debate and you try to build common ground. i see my colleague from iowa, you know, here. i'm interested in working with her. we worked together on other issues, and i'm interested in working with all of my colleagues as i have with respect to this question of making the tax code neutral with respect to energy sources. we're not doing that today. what we're doing is playing a political game, and i will say to my colleagues, nobody ought to take part in this political game. you don't play political games when the consequences for the american people are so serious. you have instead a serious debate about what to do about the serious problem. that is not what is going on, not what's going on today. i'm going to close by saying
years into the future our children and our grandchildren are going to deal with the consequences of inaction, and they are going to look at something like debate, so-called because i call it a sham debate, and they are going to be angry. the american people deserve a lot better than this kind of fake debate that is being held on the senate floor right now. i want to make it clear as the senior democrat on the senate finance committee, i am very interested in working with my colleagues on real and bipartisan approaches to deal with this staggering challenge. that's not what we're having today. our country is going to regret it. i y
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