Are you feeling the heat? On the East Coast last week, 185 million Americans faced sweltering, unprecedented heat — heat that claimed lives, and left hundreds of thousands of people without power. Multiple new all-time heat records were set, from Anchorage to Boston. Now, heat is hitting the Northwest this week, and it’s not just North America — the high today in Brussels, Belgium is 106 degrees.
There’s nothing mysterious about these heatwaves and extreme weather events. We know that carbon pollution is driving climate chaos, and causing more catastrophic wildfires across the West, increasingly extreme hurricanes pummeling the southeastern U.S., and torrential flooding in the Heartland. These events threaten the safety of our families, not to mention destroy homes, threaten businesses, and damage crops — something Oregon is all too familiar with.
The impacts of climate chaos are clear, and experts say we only have to act in the next 12 years to have a chance of curbing the very worst effects. So why aren’t we acting? Here’s the big reason: The Trump administration is putting corporate profits in the fossil fuel industry above the public health and national security of the American people. Just last month, the Trump administration announced one of its most destructive rollbacks, when the former coal industry lobbyist who now runs the Environmental Protection Agency, Andrew Wheeler, replaced the Clean Power Plan with a rule that doesn’t even require states to set carbon pollution standards for power plants. A rule that could actually lead to an INCREASE in emissions compared to business as usual.
Time and time again, this administration justifies these fossil fuel industry giveaways with the myth that we have to decide between saving jobs and acting on climate chaos. But that argument couldn’t be further from the truth.
Last week, we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing so I just don’t buy the “we can’t do it” argument about breaking our dependence on polluting fuels. If we commit our greatest strengths as a nation — our creativity, innovation, and determination — to transition away from burning fossil fuels, we can improve the health and safety of our communities and create millions of new, good-paying jobs, too. Many of these jobs can help support communities that have been left behind in economic progress, and can solidify America as a leader in new technologies. Last week, I introduced the Good Jobs for 21st Century Energy Act, to help ensure that those new jobs will pay a living-wage and support working families for generations to come.
It’s time for every single one of us to demand that this administration puts the American people before the wallets of the powerful and the privileged. Thank you for joining me in this fight.
Senator Jeff Merkley