Schumer Floor Remarks On President Trump’s Denial Of The Reality Of Climate Change And The Dire Need For Action Demonstrated By Historic Wildfires

September 15, 2020

Washington, D.C.—Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor regarding President Trump’s denial yesterday of the reality of the threats posed by climate change and called for legislative action as wildfires engulf the West Coast. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:

For the last several weeks, much of the American west has been ravaged by a historic wave of wildfires. At least thirty-five people have been killed, thousands of homes have been destroyed, over five million acres of land have been incinerated—roughly the size of Rhode Island and Connecticut combined. The sky glows with ghastly shades of red and orange.

It is impossible to have a serious conversation about these wildfires without talking about climate change. We know that climate change contributes to the frequency of these fires. We know it accelerates their destructive power. Six of the twenty largest fires in California history have happened this year alone. Heat waves and dry air make these disasters more likely. These past few years have been some of the hottest and driest on record.

But at a press conference yesterday with FEMA and California State officials, President Trump brushed aside any possibility that climate change had an effect, suggesting, idiotically, that the planet “will start getting cooler, just you watch.”

This is just like what he did with COVID. He tries to deny it. And he makes it worse. He encourages people to ignore it, and the problem grows.

When the head of the California Natural Resources Agency told the president that the science disagreed with him, the President said: “I don't think science knows.”

This exchange that the President said—that it will start getting cooler, just you watch, when he was up-rated by a scientific expert, and he said “I don’t think science knows.”—that exchange captures everything you need to know about President Trump’s grasp of basic scientific facts--and especially the science of climate change.

Without a shred of evidence or knowledge, President Trump said that our planet will just “start getting cooler.” It’s just like his attitude towards this pandemic, which he promised would magically disappear.

You’d think the situation would be better here in Congress, but regrettably, the Republican Senate doesn’t seem to take the threat of climate change seriously either. The Republican majority had six years in charge of the Senate to show that they want to make progress on climate change, but have done next to nothing, next to nothing, to curb emissions or protect our environment from the damaging effects of a warming planet.

The only time Republicans even brought up climate change legislation was when Leader McConnell scheduled a sham vote on a climate bill so his own members could vote against it. That’s right. The only climate bill Leader McConnell has brought to the floor is a bill he wanted his members to vote AGAINST.

Democrats, on the other hand, believe that protecting our planet is a moral obligation.

Senate Democrats created the first ever Senate Special Committee to study the Climate Crisis.

We’ve committed to creating clean energy jobs and building resiliency in any—any—infrastructure bill.

I’ve introduced legislation, called Clean Cars for America, that would make all vehicles on the road carbon-neutral by 2040.

And we have committed to creating at least 10 million new clean energy jobs and dedicating 40 percent of climate funding to environmental justice and the disadvantaged and communities of color.

Just last week, I joined with Senator Markey and many grassroots organizations to introduce the THRIVE resolution, calling for millions of new jobs in renewable energy and making new investments in Black, Hispanic, and indigenous communities—so that clean air, clean water, and clean energy aren’t privileges for the wealthy few but abundant for all.

This is about protecting our planet so that our kids and grandkids can live in a world with clean air, clean water, and the same kind of opportunities that we grew up with.

Republicans have had six years in the Senate to show they are serious about the defining crisis of our time, something that over the years will be even worse than COVID, much worse. And they have failed to take any action, just like they did on COVID. No action.

Democrats would not make the same mistake again. We will not delay on climate the way Republicans have delayed on COVID and not done what is needed.