March 27, 2019

Duckworth, Schumer, Schatz Introduce New Select Committee on the Climate Crisis


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) joined Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) and seven other Senate Democrats today to announce the creation of a Special Committee on the Climate Crisis. The new Senate committee will be tasked with investigating, holding hearings and issuing findings on how climate inaction is harming our country’s economy, health and national security. As a combat Veteran, Duckworth has seen firsthand how climate change has affected our military and put both our troops overseas and Americans here at home in greater danger. Video of the event can be found here.

“Climate change isn’t some partisan squabble: it’s a national and global security threat—a fact that military leaders and Donald Trump’s own intelligence officials admit,” Duckworth said. “Anyone who cares about our national security has an imperative to do whatever they can to combat climate change before it’s too late. That’s why this committee is so important. We must do more—before even one more military base floods in the Midwest or one more drought helps another terrorist group solidify power in West Africa.”

“The economic, national security, environmental, and public health consequences of inaction on climate change are far too pressing to not have a group of Senators dedicated to investigating the costs of inaction and the opportunities that exist in taking bold action,” Schumer said. “While our Republican colleagues stay fixated on denying science, Democrats know that climate change is real and Congress must act quickly, and this new committee is an essential first step in addressing this existential threat.”

“In order to take bold action, we need a broad coalition. We have put together a group of people who are leading on climate in different ways. And that is going to be the foundation for our success,” Schatz said. “With this group, we have the necessary pieces to take this issue seriously—to make real inquiries and real analysis. We are treating this like the planetary emergency it is.”

Despite near unanimous scientific consensus on the reality of climate change, Senate Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has so far refused to allow a vote on a resolution to create this committee.

A copy of Duckworth’s remarks as delivered are below:

Even from the perspective of someone who’s come under enemy fire, it’s clear to me that not all the biggest threats we’ll face over the next 30 years will take the shape of a weapons attack.

The truth is that climate change is real, climate change is here and we can’t ignore it any longer.

The Midwest is flooding and the West Coast is burning.

Coastlines are sinking while temperatures are soaring.

And worldwide, instability is rising as farmland keeps dying.

This isn’t just some partisan squabble.

At the strategic level, this is a national security threat… something that military leaders and President Trump’s own intelligence officials admit, as terrorist groups like ISIS and Boko Haram use droughts to solidify their power in Syria and Nigeria…

As storms ravage our military bases and rising sea levels threaten to swallow 100 more American military bases.

Tell me that won’t impact troop readiness.

At the tactical level, when I served in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom, 50% of all casualties that occurred occurred during convoy operations... not kicking down doors going after the bad guys, but during convoy operations.

Over 80% of all convoys were conducted to transport fuel—diesel fuel. And yet while I was in the House, Republicans time and again, and even here in the Senate, blocked the Navy’s efforts to invest in green technology.

You see, at the tactical level, if our troops had better storage capacity in batteries that would mean fewer batteries they have to carry in their rucks and more bullets instead so they can go after the bad guys.

If I could have had more fuel efficient vehicles, that would have been one less 5,000-gallon tanker of flammable fuel that I was putting out on the road to be hit by the enemy.

So it’s important on a national security level that we make these investments. Yet Republicans have time and again blocked the Navy’s own efforts to invest in green energy.

Secretary Ray Mabus, the former secretary of the Navy, actually ran an entire naval training exercise where every vehicle operated on a biodiesel–biofuel blend. And yet they were stopped in their tracks from doing more.

Look, tell me that it won’t make it harder for our servicemembers to do their jobs or get the training they need to protect the people we love if we don’t make these investments.

I know that Donald Trump never deigned to put on the uniform, but bone spurs didn’t stop me from serving.

So let me clear something up for him:

He and the GOP shouldn’t keep claiming to care about our national security, or our military, if they keep ignoring the crises that are sapping its strength and putting Americans at risk.

If they keep doing this, more Americans will have to go serve in places as a result of the effects of climate change, including droughts and fights over natural resources.


I fought one war for foreign oil. Let’s not do that again

Our troops deserve better, and American families deserve to know that their leaders are doing everything they can to keep their loved ones safe and their nation strong.

That’s one reason why this work is so important, and why I’m so glad to join my colleagues here today to announce this special committee. 

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