tv U.S. Senate U.S. Senate CSPAN November 28, 2018 4:00pm-6:01pm EST
colleagues this week from thanksgiving and come back to work. a lot of stuff needs to be done. we have energy and maybe some fresh ideas. but i hope my colleagues were able to get home for thanksgiving and spend time with their families. i'd like to say the thing i like about -- thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. people ask why? it has my favorite f words. they're family, faith, friends, food, fun, football among others. it's -- what's not to like about that, especially football that was played in columbus, ohio, on saturday afternoon. but i hope all americans were able to enjoy some combination of those things over the holiday weekend. mr. president, you may be likely and many across -- you may be like me and many across the country who took the long weekend to unplug a bit by turning off our phone, maybe
turning off cable news, too, so we reconnect with loved ones. while many americans were recharging, enjoying a good meal with family and friends, maybe watching a football game or doing some christmas shopping, some major news broke over the weekend. last friday on the detail after thanksgiving -- day after thanksgiving, 13 federal agencies released a nearly 1,700-page report highlighting the devastating impacts that climate change will have over the next 80 years if we do not change course now. the report was a dire warning to our nation and to our planet, but one that we might have easily missed while celebrating the holiday with family and friends. i'm sure a lot of people did miss it. i suspect that the fact that this major report was released on friday of a holiday weekend was not an accident. after all, the report was just put together by experts from over a dozen agencies within the trump administration's spell out
the very real consequences of climate change. a global crisis that our president has repeatedly called a hoax. in fact, just yesterday the president said that he is not among the so-called believers who see climate change as a pressing problem. luckily we don't have to just blindly believe in climate change. we can look at the facts. and despite the trump administration's best efforts to bury this report on a friday afternoon, friday evening of a holiday weekend, those of us based in reality are going to make sure that the clear facts in it are broadcast far and wide. now, this particular report took not a year, not two years, but three years to write. it was written by more than 300 federal experts, nonfederal experts as well who volunteered their time. it was only finalized after an extensive public outreach and
interagency review process. this report wasn't thrown together to push any agenda. it's a scientific report. and its conclusions should be important to every person, not just living in my state or 49 or 50 states but everybody who lives on this planet because it has implications for every single one of us. i'd like to take a few minutes this afternoon to go over some of the highlights of the report. why don't we just start with extreme weather. according to the -- people say what do you mean by extreme weather? i mean measuring rainfall in feet, not by inches. i'm talking about fires in states on the west coast especially where the fires -- the amount of land being consumed is lp the size of my -- is almost the size of my state of delaware. talking about the number -- 500-year floods that are occurring every other year or every year. talking about the number of category 5 hurricanes we have now compared to what it was 10,
30, 40 years ago. according to the latest report which again was released by the trump administration, climate change will continue to increase and intensify extreme weather events in the years to come. over the last three years alone, extreme weather events have caused the united states nearly $400 billion in damages due to storm surges, due to flooding, due to wildfires, due to crop droughts. $400 billion it has cost the united states. a lot of the money has cost the u.s. treasury and it comes at a time when our budget deficits are going up. budget deficit picked up from the last administration, this administration, i think the deficit was somewhere maybe $500 billion, a huge amount of money. the last year's deficit on this administration was, as i recall, maybe $750 billion. and i'm told that the expectation for the budget deficit in this year is maybe as much as $950 billion, billion
dollars. it wasn't that long ago that the whole budget for our country was less than that. it was less than that. and why is $400 billion in damages from extreme weather important? well, we don't have the money. we are borrowing this money. and these young pages down here, they and their kids, their children, they'll get to pay for that some day. and that's not fair. more powerful and more frequent extreme weather events will increase that figure exponentially and also have far-reaching impacts on people in every corner of this country and well beyond the borders of our country. let's say we -- someone happens to live in the southwest. in 2017, phoenix, arizona, set a new record of nearly 200 days with temperatures of at least 90 degrees fahrenheit. think about that. phoenix, arizona, 200 days with temperatures of at least 90 degrees fahrenheit in 2017.
in 2019, phoenix could be dealing with additional 45 days. another month and a half every year. that would be 245 days which would be about eight months out of the year where the temperature in phoenix was 80 or well above that. well above 90. well above 90. that's another six weeks of extreme heat in addition to the city's already record-breaking temperatures. let's say somebody lives in the southeast. let's take charleston, south carolina for example. charleston, south carolina experiences 38 days of tidal flooding every year, 38 days. by 2045 the city could experience 180 days of tidal flooding every year. nearly five times the flooding that occurs today. let's say maybe somebody who lives out west, by 2050 wildfire seasons could burn up to six
times more forest area every year. i'll say that again. it's hard to believe. by 2050, wildfire seasons could burn up to six times more forest every year. we've also seen horrific devastation of fires in california have caused just in this year alone. in fact, in the last several weeks alone. tragic fires. california is a big state. used to live there when i was in the navy. sometimes it's difficult to put into a context just how big and destructive these wildfires are. but we got a poster here that i want to refer to, a wildfire poster. this is washington, d.c. and the counties adjacent to washington, d.c. they give us a little bit of context. here is the area that the recent campfire in california burned in relation to a city that all of us who serve here are pretty familiar with, washington, d.c. and the suburbs to this city. the campfire burned an area over
three times greater than washington, d.c. that's how big it was. that's just one fire in just one state in one year. imagine what we're going to be facing with up to six times more forest areas burning every single year. now if the extreme weather conclusions don't make some of our colleagues jump to action, maybe information about the health impacts of climate change will cause them to take some notice. this report makes clear that increases in ozone and particle pollution will result in an additional $26 billion every year in health care costs across the country. $26 billion. and here's a particularly startling statistic. extreme hot and cold temperatures in the 49 u.s. cities are projected to result in more than 9,000 additional premature deaths per year, per
year. that's not in a far off developing nation. it's 9,000 people dying right here at home in the u.s. of a. if our colleagues are still not swayed about impacts to american health, maybe they will move -- be moved by the impact that climate change will have on our country's already aging infrastructure. and i think this is probably -- highway transportation infrastructure, if i am not mistaken. if we do not acted, we can expect up to $26 billion -- $26 billion -- in damages to our roadways, railways every year due to climate change. $26 billion in damages to our roadways, our railways every year due to climate change. i think we have a poster here that there is a bridge, not sure where, but it is one of many bridges. we have thousands of bridges around this nation. but increases in rainfall in inland areas not on the coast but in the middle of our
country, the breadbasket, the heartland, will threaten up to 6,000 bridges by the year 2090 -- 6,000. here is a statistic that we will not be able to avoid. and it deals with sea level rise. since 1993, up by three inches. what we're looking at by 2010, according to the folks who've worked for the last three years on this federal report from i think 13 federal agencies, could be looking at as much as six feet in sea level rise. if we do nothing by 2010, we could be looking at sea level rise of up to six feet. those of us who lived through super-storm sandy through the absolute destruction that could be caused by three inches of sea level rise then. it will almost unimaginable to think about nearly 70 inches. maybe that's still not alarming enough to get some people's attention. perhaps the impact on our
farmers and ranchers may sway my colleagues. authorizing this report, this same federal report, more frequent and intense rains combined with rising temperatures are like lay to decrease agriculture levels to 19 nine levels. in the midwest, that's where we were. a corn and soybean poster here and what it tells success when it comes to crops that agricultural commodities depend on, big in my state, farmers could see reduced yields up to 25%. maybe some of our colleagues don't come from states with a large agricultural sector where it is important. perhaps the economic impact may move them to action. climate change could mean up to $500 billion in economic losses every year by 2090. climate change could mean up to $500 billion in economic losses every year by 2090.
additionally, almost 2 billion labor hours are projected to be lost by 02090. due to the impacts of extreme temperatures. that alone would cost an additional $160 billion in lost wages. and here's a stark statistic. climate change -- i think we have it right here -- climate change could slash by up to 10% our gross domestic product by 2100, up to 10%. let's put that into context. ten years ago we fell into the great recession, worst recession since the great depression. we had half -- half -- of the losses in gross domestic product that we're looking at from climate change that goes really unchecked. climate change could slash, according to this report, up to 10% of our gross domestic product by 2100 and that's more
than double the losses of the great recession. many of our colleagues here were here during the great recession. unemployment over 10%. banks basically stopped lending. access to capital greatly impeded. trade slowed down dramatically. it was a miserable time. we fought very hard to get out of it. we're now in the ninth straight year of the longest economic expansion in the history of the country. and stuff like this is not going to help extend that recovery. but to refuse to act i think would be willingly -- would be to willingly usher in economic calamity twice as painful as the great recession. the numbers and facts don't lie. the reality of climate change is stair l. scary, especially for coastal states like mine, the lowest-lying state in our country. our state is sinking instead of rising.
this report lays out the affects for all of us. those from landlocked states like our presiding officer, if you care about our economy, this report says every sector of our economy and every person living in this country will be affected by climate change if we do nothing. if we do nothing. so as i see, we've got a couple of options. we could take up this fight and get serious in adapting for climate change or we could stick our head in the sand, ignore facts and do nothing. allowing our children and grandchildren to live in a world less economically vibrant. i say let's fight. my hope is our colleagues will join us,er not fighting against one another but fighting against this threat that we all face. we got one planet. president macron was down the hall a few years ago. he said there's no plan "b." we've got the only plan. it's the one we've been given to take -- got a. got the only
planet. it's the one we've been given to take care of. before i yield to my friend from florida, i'll say this -- there is some good news, too. the good news is there are ways to address this challenge. the economic challenge, the agricultural challenge, the flooding challenges, the tetch challenges. there are a way to do t the way -- among the ways to do it the smart ways to do it is to reduce the emission of carbon in this condition country and the good news is we can do that by adding and creating jobs. 200 million people went to work in this country today. 3 million went to work in jobs where they're involved in renewable energy, energy conservation, stuff that helps save our planet and preserve the quality of life. and there's a lot more we can add in jobs in that kind of work, including building vehicles that run on batteries,
hydrogen, fuel cells. the waste product from those vehicles is like water. you can drink it. there is a way to address these threats in a way that is economically viable. we don't have to choose between all this doom and gloom and a strong economy. we could have -- we can address the gloom and doom and add a lot of jobs. we ought to do this. this would be a win-win. this can be a win-win. we ought to seize the day. i thank my colleague from florida for his patience with me here and i don't know that i will have a chance to stand here this close again before he heads off into the sunset. but he and i were privileged to serve together in the house. avenues one-time treasurer and commissioner of his state. we've walked his path together for a long triumphant he has been a great servant of the people of florida for many, many years and i'm -- i've always been proud to stand next to him, especially proud today. i am happy to yield to my friend
from florida. mr. nelson: mr. president? er ifer if the senator from florida. -- the presiding officer: the senator from florida. mr. nelson: the subject the senator from delaware speaks of, climate change, especially affects my state of if lful as we are ground zero with so many of the consequences of climate change, sea level rise. i will be addressing that topic within the next couple of days. i have addressed that problem over and over, but i want to give at concluding speech on that topic. but this afternoon i want to give a concluding speech on the topic of health care. mr. president, i want to talk about the importance of ensuring that all americans and especially my state all floridians have access to critical health services through
the affordable care act. when the a.c.a. passed, it stated that an insurance company cannot deny health insurance coverage because a person had a preexisting condition. in other words, that means that you cannot be denied health coverage because you have something like asthma or cancer or heart trouble or diabetes or a.l.s. or in some cases even a rash. before the affordable care act even being a woman was considered a preexisting condition. nearly everyone has a preexisting condition. in florida alone, almost 8 million people have a preexisting condition. we think of our neighbors, our
friends, and family members, and we thought of them when we passed the a.c.a. we worked very hard to give them the health care protections that they needed. and in these past few years, i've talked to folks all over our country, and in florida i've talked to the very folks that we fought so hard to insure -- ensure that they have health insurance and health care. last year, for example, i spoke with a well-known community leader from hollywood, florida, elaine geller. her daughter megan was diagnosed with leukemia at the age of 26. at the time that she was
admitted to a hospital, megan's bloodcount was 4. she had water on the heart, she had pneumonia. she went through one round of chemo, and it put the cancer in remission. she was initially hospitalized in new york where she had been working as a special ed teacher but returned to florida to receive the care at the university of miami's comprehensive cancer center. one of the finest cancer centers around the country. and so, as the story goes, megan's doctor told megan and her mom elaine that she needed a transplant and that required a payment of $150,000 up front. and from january until about the end of april , megan lived at
that comprehensive cancer center at the university, receiving multiple rounds of chemo, biopsies and various other treatments. you know what her mom said to me? she said, thanks for the affordable care act. she could focus as a mom all of her energy on her daughter. she didn't have to worry about all the bills that were piling it up and ultimately she didn't have to write a check for the transplant. and that's because she had health insurance, despite a preexisting condition. and the affordable care act created a transitional program to cover eligible individuals with preexisting conditions like megan. after megan left the sylvester
comprehensive care center, her cancer went into remission, but then the cancer came back. the remission only lasted 63 days. and so they flew to texas to the m.d. anderson cancer center. why travel across the country to get cancer treatments? because when you're dying and when a mom is watching her daughter die, there's nothing that you as a parent would not do. you can't put a price on your life, on your child's life. and do us a lot of good if we would remember -- it would do us a lot of good if we would remember that. and so, sadly then, megan had a fall, hit her head, she died at the age of of 28, and her total
care in that battle with cancer could have cost elaine, her mom, $5 million, but thanks to the a.c.a., because she had health insurance, megan's part of that treatment was $70,000. that not only saved her from going bankrupt, it also gave her more time to spend with her daughter. anyone that's lost someone knows that every second counts. we shouldn't take things for granted. elaine said her daughter would be proud to know that her story of the affordable care act matters. it matters to me as their senator, and that's why i'm telling it on the floor of the senate.
and it should matter to every one of these senators here. let me give you another person that i met along the trail. i met with one of the most courageous 14-year olds that i've ever seen, j.j. holmes and his family who are from longwood, florida. j.j. has cerebral palsy and requires a wheelchair and constant attention to get around and to be taken care of. he can only communicate with his computer vocal ization device. it's just amazing, since j.j. can't directly communicate except by the sparkle in his eyes. he uses his left neon a device on the wheelchair
to hit it, and it goes to a computer screen, and he can type out the words and the sounds in order to give him an ability to communicate with another ordinary person. j.j. has a preexisting condition. he has cerebral palsy. and all of the efforts to repeal and undermine the a.c.a. are undermining his access to care and his ability to live. and each attempt to repeal the a.c.a. was another threat to his very life. his mom told me that there was so much of a daily struggle, worry and heartache, that when you have a child who is
severely disabled and the a.c.a. finally gave that family the much-needed security, and it lifted a huge burden of how in the world were they going to cope with this medical condition of their child. i'll give you another example in florida. earlier this year i was joined at a local roundtable on health care by elizabeth isso from st. petersburg. elizabeth told me that the a.c.a. had saved her life and allowed her to purchase insurance for the very first time. she doesn't know how she's going to be able to afford coverage if the lifetime caps of the law are reinstated and if essential health
benefits are not provided as the a.c.a. provides. elizabeth was a productive member of society. she's a social worker. and then she developed a sinus tumor. she went without insurance for three years, during which her health was constantly deteriorating, and it was to the point that she thought she was dying. she had vital organ damage and reached complete disability. the mass in her sinus had extended into her skull. and after the a.c.a. became the law of the land, she purchased insurance through healthcare.p gov.
she said it's the best insurance she's ever had because it covered essential health benefits like the preventive services. so let's think about this, just in these three cases i have given. the a.c.a. protects people like meghan with preexisting condition from being charged more simply because of their diagnosis. it protects people like j.j. from being unable to afford care because they hit annual or lifetime limits on coverage. it protects people like elizabeth from being denied treatment because insurers are now required to cover essential health services. services and benefits like hospitalizations and prescription drugs.
and these folks are not the only ones that i've talked to about how the a.c.a. has changed their life. the american people, not just floridians, have been writing to us, have been calling to us, have been showing up in our town halls, have been showing up in our roundtables, approaching me on the street corner, at the airport, at events all over florida to share how important the a.c.a. is to them. the affordable care act has given people health care that they otherwise would never have had. over and over they've come to me and said we want to see a bipartisan fix, a fix to the a.c.a. not a repeal. why can't you just get together and fix the
a.c.a.? how many times have i made that plea on the floor of the senate, and they are right. there's a lot of work to be done to bring down the cost of health care, to make insurance more affordable and increase coverage for people who still don't have it. but in the meantime, the trump administration is doing everything in its power to undermine and undo the existing law that has helped so many so much. we've seen an executive order of president trump's stating that the policy of his administration was to seek prompt repeal of the a.c.a. we've seen rules coming out, out of the trump administration, cutting in half the length of
time that people had to enroll in plans on healthcare.gov, eliminated low-income subsidies and cutting outreach and advertising for enrollment by 90%. why would you make it harder for people to sign up for health insurance? if your intention wasn't to undermine the affordable care act, which is exactly what the trump administration's intention is. we've seen the implementation of expanding short-term health plans. these are plans that are less than a year or, as they really are designed, junk plans.
and because that's just what they are. they don't offer essential health benefits. they offer extremely limited coverage so that people don't have the coverage and they don't have the coverage for preexisting conditions. they remove protections for people with those preexisting conditions. they do not cover that list of 10 or 12 things called essential health benefits like maternity care and prescription drug costs. we've seen multiple republican repeal and replace bills that have come before the house and before this senate. we've seen this trump administration claim that they do care about those with preexisting
conditions. just last month president trump tweeted republicans will protect people with preexisting conditions far better than the dems. but that's not what they're doing. nor is that what they've done. well, mr. president, if that's the case, then why is your administration supporting the lawsuit, texas vs. the u.s. department of health and human services. that very lawsuit that was brought forward by a republican attorneys general, including florida's attorney general, urging a federal court to strike down preexisting conditions and patient protections as unconstitutional, and it would cause a chaos in our health care system?
you're not protecting 133 million americans with preexisting conditions. no. what you're doing is eliminating their health care. and that includes 17 million children. the administration should better look at their situation and do the opposite of what they have been doing. i ask the american people to demand that the trump administration stop undermining the a.c.a., get to work, this administration, do its job, implement all parts of the existing law, the affordable care act. we should be looking for ways to help people like elaine and j.j. and
meghan and elizabeth. we should be looking for ways to help them get through the tough times. we should be working together in a bipartisan way to make the a.c.a. work better, not trying to kill it. mr. president, i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from hawaii. a senator: i ask unanimous consent that ariel casillo, a legislative fellow in my office be permitted floor access for the remainder of the 115th congress. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. hirono: i thank my good
friend, the senator from florida, for speaking out on the critical importance of the affordable care act for millions of people in our country and calling upon this administration to support health care for all instead of what they're doing to the health care of millions of people in our country. mr. president, turning to another matter, nearly 12 years ago, on december 7, 2006, president george w. bush nominated thomas farr to be a u.s. district court judge for the eastern district of north carolina. today, 12 years and three nominations later, his name is again before us for confirmation to the very same vacancy which has remained unfulfilled, or unfilled all this time. when mr. farr was nominated for his vacancy, for this vacancy in 2006 and 2007, his nomination did not receive a vote in the judiciary committee. it was known at that
time that mr. farr had spent his professional life engaged in restricting minority voting rights and defending companies alleged to have discriminated against african americans, women, and others. in the 1980's and in 1990, mr. farr represented senator jesse helms, notorious for his opposition to civil rights, voting rights, women's rights, workers' rights, lgbtq rights. in other words, individual rights. mr. farr also helped corporations fight off their employees' discrimination claims. in 2003 mr. farr defended blue cross-blue shield of north carolina against claims by a female employee who alleged that the company had compelled her to resign because of her sex and age. to win this case, mr. farr convinced the north carolina supreme court to strike down the counties antidiscrimination law.
given this history of restricting minority voting rights and defending companies in discrimination claims, mr. farr's nomination did not proceed at that time, and rightly so. in the 12 years since his first nomination, mr. farr has become notorious for his defense of the north carolina legislature's attempts to disenfranchise african american voters. his current nomination is opposed by nearly every civil rights group in north carolina and nationally, and the congressional black caucus, c.b.c., has fought mr. farr's nomination. in a 2017 letter to the judiciary committee, the c.b.c. wrote, quote, it is no exaggeration to say that had the white house deliberately sought to identify an attorney in north carolina with a more hostile record on african american voting rights and workers' rights, then thomas farr -- thas farr, it could hardly have done so. end quote. this district court
vacancy was not filled by president obama in his two terms, but not for lack of trying. president obama nominated two different african american women for this vacancy, one an assistant u.s. attorney, and another a state court judge. neither nomination moved forward because the republican home state senators withheld their blue slips. judiciary chairs leahy and ranking member grassley abided by the blue ship process and no hearings were ever held for these two obama nominees. at same time both of my colleagues from north carolina persisted in their desire to confirm mr. farr to the federal bench. of course now returning of a blue ship is no longer a barrier of purr -- of pushing nominees through the judiciary committee. on the recommendation of my
colleagues from north carolina, donald trump nominated mr. farr yet again to the seat that had been kept open in the eastern district of north carolina. in fact, when mr. farr's nomination was returned at the end of a session of congress last year, the white house decided to renominate him this year. this history regarding this judicial vacancy and mr. farr is key to understanding why i, and so many of my colleagues, will vote no today. we will be accused of obstruction and of wanting to deprive the people of north carolina of a judge in the eastern district. we will hear how this is the longest open vacancy on the entire federal bench, but, in fact, this vacancy has remained open so long because of republicans' refusal to confirm qualified minority women and their insistence on filling this vacancy with a man whose career is filled with examples of his
using the law to advance a racist obstructionist plainly un-american agenda. had the republicans not blocked the nominations of qualified minority women in 2013 and 2016, this district, which is about 27% african american, would have had its first african american judge. by contrast, mr. farr has spent decades opposing the rights of african americans, women, and workers. let me highlight a few examples. when mr. farr was working as legal counsel for the 1990 campaigns for senator jesse helms for north carolina, the justice department filed a federal lawsuit against the campaign for trying to intimidate thousands of african americans from voting. how did they do this? they campaign sent postcards suggesting that the voters were ineligible to vote and warned
that they could be prosecuted if they voted. although mr. farr denied any involvement in these racist voter intimidation efforts, the justice department who investigated the matter determined that mr. farr was certainly involved in the scheme as it was being developed. end quote. that was not the only time mr. farr imposed the rights of the african americans. when they tried to dilute the votes of african americans over the past ten years, mr. farr fiercely defended these efforts as a private attorney. in 2013, for example, he defended the north carolina legislature voter suppression efforts that a court found were enacted with racially discriminatory intent. racially discriminatory intent. in other words, the north carolina legislature was totally up front about what they were up to. after the supreme court effectively struck down the part of the voting rights act that
required north carolina to preclear any changes to their voting laws, the north carolina state lelgture passed -- legislature passed a law that eliminated or cut back on voter mechanisms that african americans disproportionately used. this is a law that mr. farr defended. in the -- the fourth circuit in that case determined that these voting changes, quote, targeted african americans with almost surgical precision. end quote. in other words, blatantly discriminatory intent was found by the fourth circuit. between his efforts to support suppression of minority voters mr. farr helped companies avoid accountability for discrimination against african americans, women, and minority groups. in 2003, mr. farr argued that female employees at pfizer were not protected under civil rights laws from condescending, sexist
comments from their manager because they were in his view were not severe or pervasive enough. he even tried to undermine the plaintiff's claim by arguing that she failed to point out that her manager harassed her because of her gender on a daily or weekly basis. that was the standard he applied. you have to have been harassed on a daily or weekly basis. mr. farr ultimately convinced the court to dismiss the case as untimely. a nominee who has no -- he has no business being confirmed to a lifetime position as a judge where his ideological agenda will be reflected in his decisions. i will not vote for mr. farr's nomination and i urge my colleagues to do likewise. mr. president, i'd also like to explain my opposition to another
nominee being considered this week, jonathan kobes for the eighth circuit court of appeals from south dakota. mr. kobes received a not qualified vote from a substantial majority of the a.b.a.'s standing committee on the federal judiciary. the report -- they reported that kobes has neither the experience nor evidence of his ability to fulfill the scholarly writing required of a united states circuit court judge. they continued, the standing committee had difficulty analyzing will kobes' professional competence because he was unable to provide sufficient writing samples of a cal better required -- caliber required to satisfy committee members that he was capable of doing the work of a united states circuit court judge. end quote. hence their nonqualified vote for him. in normal times this sort of
negative evaluation from the a.b.a. would be given to the white house before the white house decided to nominate someone and the person would never even be nominated. but these are not normal times. instead of following normal procedure, the white house has nominated profoundly unfit to serve for a lifetime on the circuit court but who will nonetheless be confirmed in a party-line vote. mr. kobes demonstrated hostility to our women's reproductive rights. his antichoice activism is on par with so many other trump nominees who are relatively young, as he is, and profoundly inexperienced. in 2005 mr. kobes represented as a volunteer so-called crisis pregnancy centers seeking to uphold the law to inform women seeking abortions that, quote, the pregnant woman has an existing relationship with the unborn human being and that the relationship enjoys protections
under the united states constitution and under the laws of south dakota. end quote. that is not the associate of the law, by the way. mr. farr and mr. kobes are two of the worst of mr. trump's judicial nominees and that is saying a lot. they are two more examples of president trump's relentless pursuit to pack the courts with ideologs who will rule in favor of conservative causes. truly donald trump does not believe in the judiciary written by the framers of our constitution. we see in his single-minded indifference, that he is nominating judges whom he believes will be his political allies. he tells us as much. he believes judges he appoints are trump judges and will be loyal to him and protect him and
his policies when the time comes. chief justice john roberts could not have been clearer in his response last week to donald trump's criticism of judges who don't rule his way. chief justice told the a.p., quote, we do not have obama judges or trump judges, bush judges or clinton judges. what we have is an extraordinary group of judges doing their best to do equal right to those appearing before them. that independent judiciary is something that we should all be thankful for. end quote. the independence of the judiciary is not something that donald trump acknowledges, values or even believes in. what he wants are trump judges who will rule in favor of his policies and decisions and who will satisfy his ideologically conservative base. it is no wonder that chief justice roberts felt it necessary to take the extraordinary step of reminding the president and the country
that the judiciary must be independent. i urge my colleagues to vote against the nominations of mr. farr and kobes. mr. president, i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from rhode island. mr. whitehouse: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent to speak for up to minutes as if in morning business and, fourth, that at the conclusion of my remarks, the senator from massachusetts, senator markey be recognized, that we have permission to engage in a colloquy and at the end of senator markey's remarks senator shaheen of new hampshire be recognized. the presiding officer: without
objection. mr. whitehouse: thank you. mr. president, a persistent argument of my climate talks is how corrupt climate denial is. the premise of that argument is that the fossil fuel industry denial apparatus is wrong about climate change and knows it is wrong. that is my case. the fossil fuel industry denial apparatus knows it is wrong about climate change. well, it is a beautiful world and every once in a while along comes something that proves my case. last week on the afternoon of black friday, the trump administration released its national climate assessment. by 13 federal agencies describing the monumental damage the united states is facing from
climate change. in more than 1,000 pages the report contradicted nearly every fake assertion trump and his fossil fuel flunky cabinet have made about climate change. now, trump's pro-polluter policies are predicated on the lies and nonsense of this fossil fuel industry denial apparatus. and this report is devastating to those policies and to those lies. so how did the fossil fuel apparatus respond? what did they do to rebut the national climate assessment? they did nothing. they did nothing. there was all that big talk from scott pruitt about how they were going to red team climate
science. well, here comes the climate science. where is your red team? nothing. instead of engaging with this devastating report by the u.s. government's leading scientists, they tried to bury it, timing its release for a day of the year when it would least likely to get public attention. and consider for a moment the environment in which they backed down from this challenge. no red team, no nothing. they just whimpered and ran away and tried to bury the report on black friday. at a time when their industry populates the trump administration, at a time when the president is in their pocket, at a time when both houses of congress are under
fossil fuel industry control. their phony climate denial front groups wield more influence than ever. this should have been their moment. the tell here is that even in this environment the fossil fuel industry and its bevy of stooges in the trump administration got this report and did nothing. why? why nothing? there's only one answer. because they know they are wrong. they know the real science is right. they know their science denial campaign is phony so they backed down. they folded like a cardboard suitcase in a rainstorm. that, my friends, is an admission. it is an admission by inaction.
it is an admission that evening the fossil fuel industry knows the climate science is irrefutable. interestingly, irrefutable is just what president trump and his family said about climate science in this full-page advertisement that they signed in "the new york times" in 2009 saying that the climate science is irrefutable and that there will be catastrophic and irreversible consequences of climate change. so this new national climate assessment plus the recent enter
governmental panel on climate change report are both very clear. the irrefutable science that these two reports disclose couldn't be more clear. damage from climate change is already occurring. there is no credible natural explanation for it. human activity is the dominant cause. future damage from further warming will be worse than we previously thought. economies will suffer, and we are almost out of time to prevent the worst consequences of climate change. as the bank of england report on this, they're the biggest financial regulator in the u.k.
they said the financial risks are far-reaching in their breadth and magnitude have uncertain time horizons are foreseeable but these risk factors will be minimized if there is an orderly transition to a low carbon economy, but the window for an orderly transition is fine night -- is finite and closing. we are almost out of time. so these two reports, they are tough stuff. as the trump administration summary states -- and i quote -- earth's climate is now changing faster than at any point in the history of modern civilization primarily as a result of human activities. the impacts of global climate change are already being felt in the united states and are projected to intensify.
which makes sense. since in the history of human civilization the earth has never seen atmospheric co2 concentrations like we have today. many scientists have said warming of around 3 degrees sent grade is -- centigrade is now likely. what does that mean? heating the planet well beyond 2 degrees centigrade would create a, quote, totally different world says michael oppenheimer, a climate scientist at princeton university. he says it would be indescribable. it would turn the world up side down in terms of climate. there would be nothing like it in the history of civilization. end quote. here's what the trump climate assessment chronicles. from our ocean state, we're concerned about sea levels,
ocean acidification, and warming. we note sea levels are rising as oceans warm and upland ice melts. if fossil fuels are not constrained, the report says, and i quote, many coastal communities will be transformed by the latter part of the century. for my coastal state, mr. president, that's a pretty ominous warning. along coasts, fisheries, tourism, human health, even public safety are being -- and i quote the report again -- transformed, degraded, or lost due in part to climate change impacts, particularly sea level rise and higher numbers of extreme weather events. you get the sea level coming up, that extreme weather event which is stronger to begin with now
has a lot more ocean to throw at our shores. out west, more frequent and larger wildfires combined with increasing development at the wildland urban interface portend increasing risks to property and human life, the report says. and by the way, from 2000 to 2016, wildfires have burned at least 3.7 million acres of the united states in every single year except for three. from 2,000 to 2016, more than 3.7 million acres burned in all years but three. and california still smolders as i speak. more than a hundred million people in the u.s. live with poor air quality and climate change will -- again quoting the report -- worsen air pollution
levels. end quote. increased wildfire smoke threatens respiratory and cardiovascular problems, and with higher temperatures from global warming, asthma and hay fever rise. ground water supplies have declined over the last century, and the decrease is accelerating quote, significant changes in water quantity and quality are evident across the country, the report finds. midwest farmers take a big hit. warmer winter and more humid conditions from climate change, greater incidence of crop disease and more pests, worsened conditions for stored grain. during the growing season, the midwest will see temperatures climb more than any other region of the u.s., the report says. crop yields will suffer, a
warning that is echoed by grain giants like cargill. sum it all up, the report says climate change will disrupt many areas of life hurting the u.s. economy, affecting trade, exacerbating overseas conflicts for our military. costs will be high. i quote, with continued growth in emissions at historic rates, annual losses in some economic sectors are projected to reach hundreds -- hundreds of billions of dollars, hundreds of billions of dollars by the end of the century, more than the current gross domestic product of many u.s. states. danger warnings already flash in
some economic sectors. freddie mac has warned of a coastal property value crash saying, and i quote, the economic losses and social disruption may happen gradually but there are likely to be great -- but they are likely to be greater in total than those experienced in the housing crisis and great recession. again, from a coastal state, mr. president, that's an ominous warning. the insurance industry agrees. trade publication risk and insurance has warned, i quote, continually rising seas will damage coastal, residential, and commercial property values to the point that property owners will flee those markets in droves. thus, precipitating a mortgage value collapse that could equal or exceed the mortgage crisis that rocked the global economy in 2008. end quote. and by the way, the leading edge of this may already be upon us
as coastal property values are beginning to lag inland property values as reported by "the wall street journal." separate from the coastal property values threat is another warning about a carbon bubble in fossil fuel markets. fossil fuel reserves now claimed as assets that are not developable in a 2-degree centigrade world become what they call stranded assets. a recent economic publication estimated that collapse of the carbon bubble would wipe out, and i quote here, around 82% of global coal reserves, 49% of global gas reserves, and 33% of global oil reserves. a separate economic review warns
that $12 trillion of fossil fuel industry financial value, and i quote here, could vanish off their balance sheets globally in the form of stranded assets. $12 trillion is over 15% of global g.d.p. which is why the bank of england, who i quoted earlier, as a financial regulator is warning of this carbon asset bubble as a systemic economic risk. mr. president, that may be the blandest set of words in the english language that convey the worst threat. if you were to graph blandness of language and seriousness of threat, you'd probably come up with systemic economic risk. it basically means economic meltdown. well, that's what we're looking at. this level of collapse could
cascade beyond the fossil fuel companies. it's not just a question of their shareholders getting wiped out. it is such a crash that it cascades out into the global economy. a crash like that unfortunately hits the u.s. particularly hard because lower-cost producers can hold on and unload fossil fuel reserves into the collapsing market at fire sale prices. when they do, the economists warn, and i quote here, regions with higher marginal costs like the united states, quote, lose almost their entire oil and gas industry. end quote. the solution is to decarbonize, to invest more in renewables, to broaden our energy portfolio away from this asset-collapse
risk. one paper concludes the united states is worse off -- worse off if it continues to promote fossil fuel production and consumption. another paper concludes -- this is the good news -- if, if climate policies are implemented early on and in a stable and credible framework, market participants are able to smoothly anticipate the effects. in this case, there would not be any large shock in asset prices and there would be no systemic risk. so how do we get to eliminating this hazard of systemic risk? how do we get to no systemic risk? we do what works for us anyway. move to renewables. as this graph shows, we've got to make a big move to avoid this
hazard. a carbon price which is the remedy the fossil fuel energy pretends to support while sending its political forces out to oppose exactly the laws it pretends to support. but a carbon price would allow this big move to happen all while generating revenue that could be cycled back to states and citizens and help the hardest hit areas of transition. the smart move that we need to make to make this happen does not have to be painful. we avoid a lot of pain if we make the move, but that doesn't mean the move itself has to be painful. nobel prize winner joseph stiglitz says it's a win economically. he has testified and i quote him here, retro fitting the global economy for climate change would help to restore aggregate demand
and growth. climate policies if well designed and implemented are consistent with growth, development, and poverty reduction. the track decision to a low carbon economy is potentially a powerful, attractive, and sustainable growth story marked by higher resilience, more innovation, more livable cities, robust agriculture, and stronger ecosystems. end quote. or we could do it the hard way. do nothing. get hit with those dire economic consequences. because the status quo is not safe. "fortune" magazine summed up the trump administration climate report quite beautifully. so i will quote them at some
length. the report catalogues the observed damage and accelerating financial losses projected from a climate now unmoored from a 12,000-year period of relative stability. what a phrase that is. the earth's climate, which we inhabit, unmoored from a 12,000-year period of relative stability. they go on -- the result is that much of what humans have built and many of the things they are building now are unsuited to the world as it exists, and as time goes on, the added cost of living in that world could total hundreds of billions of dollars annually, end quote.
well, which way we now go depends on the congress of the united states, on whether congress can put the interests of our people ahead of the interests of the fossil fuel industry. the record is not good. i will concede that. since the citizens united decision, the politics of climate change have turned into a tale of industry capture and control. so far, despite the fossil fuel industry's obvious conflict of interest, could there be a more obvious conflict of interest indeed? and despite their provable pattern of deception and despite clear warnings from, well, virtually everywhere now, the republican party has proven itself incapable of telling the
fossil fuel industry no. we tried our best for you, we held in for you as long as we could, we did everything we could think of, but we're not going to wreck our economy, our climate, our oceans, our country for you. so it doesn't look good, but the climate report does say we still have time if we act fast. let me ask unanimous consent to add at the end of my remarks an article by max butte titled "i was wrong on climate change. why can't other conservatives admit it, too?" that concludes -- why haven't other conservatives owned up to this danger? quote, they are captive first and foremost to the fossil fuel industry. it is a tragedy for the entire planet that the united states
governing party is impervious to science and reason, end quote. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. whitehouse: thank you, mr. president. and i will close with a reference to the gathering storm. wynton churchill's legendary book about a previous failure to heed warnings. churchill quoted a poem of a train bound for destruction rushing through the night, the engineer asleep at the controls as disaster looms. who is in charge of the clattering train? the axles creek and the cupelings -- couplings strain. sleep has deadened the driver's ear. signals flash through the night in vain. death is in charge of the clattering train. i contend, mr. president, that we are now that sleeping driver,
that the signals are flashing at us so far in vain, and that it is decidedly time to wake up. i note that my distinguished colleague from massachusetts has arrived, and we have an order in place in which the senator from massachusetts is recognized at the conclusion of my remarks, and the distinguished senator from new hampshire, senator shaheen, is recognized at the conclusion of senator markey's remarks. so with that, let me yield the floor to the co-author of the waxman-markey legislation, the person who has done most successful work to try to solve this climate problem at a time when the situation was slightly less desperate. the presiding officer: the senator from massachusetts. mr. markey: thank you,
mr. president. i thank senator whitehouse. senator whitehouse has been out here on the floor week after week after week sounding the warning, like churchill, that there is danger ahead, that there is a gathering storm, but it's not met forric -- metaphorical as was for churchill. it's real. it's a gathering storm. what senator whitehouse has been doing year after year after year is coming out here on the floor to document this gathering storm and to warn that we have to take action. and i want to thank senator whitehouse for his incredible historic leadership because now between the united nations and united states scientists, all
the evidence is now there. and my belief is the failure that you talked about to heed the dire warnings on climate change is much more now than that figurative gathering storm. it is literally gathering much fiercer energy, supercharged storms that will bear down on our shores as a result of our warming crisis. scientists have shot off the warning flare. in the last two months, we have received two of the most alarming reports to date on the threat that climate change poses to our country, our economy, our security, to our planet, and questions the morality of our country because ultimately that's what it is. it is a moral issue of whether
or not we are going to leave this planet better than we found it. are we going to be the stewards of this planet, to pass it on to future generations? better than we found it. well, right now, the gathering evidence from the united nations, from our own u.s. government scientists is that we are not. the federal government's national climate assessment released last week -- release last week as well as the recent united nations intergovernmental panel on climate change reports are clarion calls. the science in these reports is clear. if we fail to act now, storms will grow more frequent, more powerful, extreme weather events like hurricane michael which grew more quickly this october than any storm we have seen will continue to cost the united
states hundreds of billions of dollars in damage. the national climate assessment, the congressionally mandated report issued by 13 federal agencies underscores the specific impacts that we are facing now and will continue to face in the future. in our home region of the northeast where senator shaheen and senator whitehouse and i have the privilege to represent, the impacts are going to be truly devastating. the northeast region will surpass two degrees centigrade of warming beyond the preindustrial levels by as soon as 2035. not 2050, not 2100. by the year 2035 if emissions continue at their current pace. that would be the quickest warming in the contiguous united states and would occur as much as two decades before global
average temperatures reach a similar point. the real-world effect of this warming trajectory are shocking. sea levels in the northeast could rise upwards of 11 feet by the end of the century. almost one-third of the sandy shorelines along the atlantic coast could erode inland at rates of at least 3.3 feet per year. we will feel the impact on our economy which is so strongly tied to fishing, to our beaches and tourism to our natural environmental resources. in 2012, a two-degree centigrade water temperature increase boosted lobster landings to high summer levels a month earlier than usual. the result was an early supply glut and a collapse in prices to the lowest level in almost two decades. this type of negative impact on our fishing industries will
become more commonplace as the climate continues to warm and our marine life is forced to move to new areas. outdoor recreation in the northeast which will suffer the consequences of climate change contributes nearly $150 billion in consumer spending and supports more than one million jobs across our region. climate impacts like beach erosion are an imminent threat to this economic powerhouse. perhaps most devastating will be the impacts on the public's health. according to the estimates, up to 10,000 people in massachusetts could visit the emergency room annually due to the rising heat by the end of the century. despite these generational warnings from both the united nations and the scientists in our own country, president trump
has continued to dismiss the impending disaster from our dangerously warming planet. how did president trump respond when asked about the conclusion that climate change could devastate the american economy? his answer -- i don't believe it. well, it doesn't matter if, mr. president, you don't believe it because the world's leading scientists have shown it to be true. and 70% of americans believe it. they believe global warming is happening. president trump may deny climate science, but there is no denying the consequences of climate change. but the trump administration will not stop at climate denial. they have a much more insidious scheme to block action on climate -- delay, deny, defund. the list of their climate sins
is long, with each action more egregious than the last one. first came the appointment of the all-star big oil cabinet. scott pruitt at the e.p.a., former exxon c.e.o. rex tillman at the state department, former texas governor rick perry at the department of energy. since mr. pruitt's ouster, the trump administration nominated king coal's favorite son andrew wheeler to head the e.p.a. mr. wheeler is a former coal industry lobbyist and has down played the -- downplayed the recent science on the devastating impacts to come from climate change. after these reports came out, he said, quote, i have some questions about the assumptions. these are assumptions vetted by 300 leading scientists in the united states and across the
planet. the only question, i believe, is why someone like andrew wheeler is put in charge at the e.p.a. a coal lobbyist is now the head of the e.p.a. e.p.a. just turns into every polluter's ally. that's the net result of what donald trump has done at that agency. the trump administration is also moving to freeze fuel economy standards rather than pushing for the historic and technically achievable goal of 54.5 miles per gallon by the year 2025. now, i am the author of the 2007 law that required the first fuel economy increase in 32 years, and increasing our fuel economy standards to 54.5 miles per gallon is the single largest action that any nation has ever taken on climate, that one law.
but the trump administration is trying to make a u-turn on those standards which are saving customers money at the pump and reducing the emissions we pump into the air. and the trump administration is trying to repeal president obama's clean power plan, turning our back on the road map for reducing pollution in the electricity sector will result in at least 12 times more carbon dioxide emissions over the next decade. and why is the trump administration taking us backwards on climate in the face of these dire warnings? just follow the money. yesterday, during the weekly senate climate change task force meeting, senator whitehouse, senator cardin, and other colleagues and i heard about the complex funding behind the climate countermovement.
which the fossil fuel industry has funded and used to mislead the american people and hold this administration hostage. the web of climate denial is nothing more than dirty energy corporations and their shady front groups spending over a quarter of a billion dollars each year to deceive americans about climate change. these corporations distort scientific consensus and turn it into an artificial political debate. they produce sham scientific documents like why scientists disagree about global warming, a report published by the heartland institute and sent to over 300,000 science teachers across the country. funding 300,000 documents to be sent to every science teacher in america over science which is patently untrue. that's how much money t
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