As one of the only research scientists in the U.S. Congress, I have fought to advance the overwhelming consensus of my fellow scientists: that global warming is real, that it is caused by humans, and that it demands immediate action from lawmakers. We can no longer allow Republicans to deny obvious phenomena. Doing so is hurting our future.
In 2009, I fought to add strict new limits on greenhouse gases to the House-passed cap-and-trade bill. As your senator, I will keep fighting every day to see that these limits become law.
New Jersey and America face many challenges today, from the rising cost of health care to the fragile recovery of our economy. But as dire as these problems can seem, all become moot points if we do not have clean air to breathe and safe water to drink.
In New Jersey, our most pressing conservation priority is ensuring the safety of our natural coastline, which is responsible for 200,000 state jobs and $12 billion in revenue. To protect our coastal economy, I will fight against any off-shore oil drilling off the Jersey Coast.
We must also safeguard lands in New Jersey and elsewhere from the headlong rush into fracking – the injection of massive quantities of water, sand, and toxic chemicals into the ground to extract natural gas. The corporate embrace of fracking has surpassed our understanding of its consequences. We must use caution until our scientific understanding catches up with the drilling companies’ enthusiasm.
Beyond New Jersey, we must also protect fragile wilderness areas and national treasures throughout the rest of the country, including the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and Utah’s Red Rock wilderness. The League of Conservation Voters has recognized my career-long effort to protect our land, water, and air with a 100 percent lifetime voting record.
Our world is being reshaped by climate change, and the inevitable result will be stronger superstorms, worse floods, more withering droughts, and more intense wildfires. These natural disasters will impose horrific costs in dollars and lives.
Even as America seeks to limit the severity of climate change, we must also stand by our fellow citizens who – through no fault of their own – fall victim to natural disasters. This means providing federal support to states, towns, and individuals who suffer severe and uninsurable damage in major disasters.
In past decades, emergency disaster relief has been a widely accepted responsibility of the federal government, and disaster relief bills have passed with broad bipartisan support. Yet in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy in 2012, most Republicans refused to provide help to New Jerseyans who fell victim to the storm, and the disaster relief package passed only by a narrow margin after months of delays.
In the Senate, I will fight to put emergency disaster relief on more stable footing by providing greater annual funding and flexibility to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. As natural disasters become more common, we cannot afford to allow disaster relief to be held hostage to partisan demands.