Heinrich Continues Call For Action On Climate Change

“The time has come for us to act in the best interest of our children and all future Americans.”

WASHINGTON, D.C. - In a speech delivered on the Senate floor yesterday, U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), a member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources and the Senate Climate Action Task Force, continued his call for action to tackle climate change.  

Below are Senator Heinrich's remarks as prepared for delivery:

Mr. President, as an engineer one of the earliest things I learned in my education is that science doesn't really care if you believe in it or not.

You can deny science as much as you want but the data suggests that the scientific method works well.

The corollary to that fact is that whether you believe in climate change or not has no bearing on whether it's actually occurring.

And unfortunately the data shows a warmer planet characterized by weather fluctuations that are more extreme and more destructive.

In my home state of New Mexico too often we find ourselves dealing with the impacts of climate change today and not at a theoretical future date.

We're already seeing the effects of climate change manifest in more extreme drought conditions, larger and intense wildfires, shrinking forests, and increased flooding when it does rain.

The longer we wait to act, the more difficult and expensive the solutions will be -- and the more unpredictable our weather will become.

2012 was our nation's second most extreme year for weather on record. And in New Mexico, we experienced the hottest year in our entire historical record.

With humidity levels lower, and temperatures higher, we are dealing with fire behavior in our forests that is markedly more intense than in the past.

We also see climate change take a toll on our economy -- especially in my state. That's an important point, because inaction has its costs too.

And the costs already being borne in New Mexico are substantial.

With less snowpack, communities that rely on winter sports tourism take an economic hit.  Fewer people lodge in their hotels, shop in their stores, and eat in their restaurants.

Climate change is also is also having a devastating impact on New Mexico's agriculture industry, where farmers and ranchers are often first to see the direct impact extreme weather.

The agricultural sector is highly vulnerable due to the sustained threat to the water supply, soil, and vegetation from continuous drought.

And things are only going to get worse if we do nothing.

If we take our moral responsibility as stewards of this Earth seriously, it's imperative that we face the challenge of reversing the effects of climate change head on.And have a sober discussion about what needs to take place now and in the future.

America clearly has the capacity to become energy independent. But we also need to transition from our current energy portfolio to one that produces as much or more power with substantially less carbon pollution per kilowatt-hour.

That will require innovation, something that historically our country has done better than any country in the world.

But additionally, we will need political will.

Something we have grown short on as climate denial and pseudoscience have made their ways into the halls of Congress.

If history is our guide, we should know that investing in cleaner energy will not be without cost.

But little of value is ever free. The question is, are we willing to make the modest investments now necessary to create the quality jobs of tomorrow and to protect our nation from the serious economic and strategic risks associated with our carbon reliance, our reliance on both foreign and carbon intensive energy sources.

Since we're looking at history let's take a moment to look at the Clean Air Act of 1990 and compare the rhetoric of debate with the reality of its implementation.

In 1989, the Edison Electric Institute predicted a significant rise in energy costs due to the Clean Air Act.

Yet the reality according to the Center for American Progress actually showed a decrease of 16 percent.

In 1990, the U.S. Business Roundtable claimed that passage of the Clean Air Act would cost a minimum of 200,000 jobs.

A recent study released by the EPA reveals the reality.

The Clean Air Act resulted in a net creation of jobs in new industries created to reduce pollution-good paying jobs in industries like engineering, manufacturing, construction, and maintenance.

In 2008, the environmental technologies sector supported $1.7 million jobs in this country.

The time has come to address climate change, rather than embrace the pseudoscience and denial that are embraced by far too many in Washington today.

The nation has never solved a single problem by denying the facts.

Let me be clear, inaction is not a solution to this very real crisis, denial is not a strategy.

Consequently if my Republican colleagues have a better way to address carbon pollution than the President has proposed, I would ask them to join the debate.

If they have a pollution solution that is more efficient or more effective, now is the time to have that discussion.

Through American ingenuity we can slow impacts of climate change and unleash the full potential of cleaner energy. We can create a healthier more stable environment for future generations.

But we must have the will to recognize the facts as they are. We will need to make the investments that are necessary, and we will have to find the political will to act.