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Climate Champs in Congress

08 Apr 2016  |   Arian Rubio

Tags: Environmental Champions, Climate Change

Our champions and allies in Congress have continued to fight for strong environmental policies and action on climate change in 2016. Here is a recap of their recent efforts.

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (RI) began the year with a “Time To Wake Up” floor speech reflecting on the progress of 2015 and urged Congress to move forwards – not backwards – on climate change and other environmental issues. He also wrote an article reflecting on the international climate negotiations in Paris, highlighting the U.S. representation in forming the Paris Agreement to fight against global climate change.  In other floor speeches so far this year, he called to curb the influence of polluter money in politics, drew attention to devastating impacts of climate change on our oceans, and more. 

Many leaders in Congress – such as Senators Brian Schatz (HI), Kirsten Gillibrand (NY), Michael Bennet (CO), Elizabeth Warren (MA) and Edward Markey (MA) and Representatives Raul Grijalva (AZ-3), Alan Lowenthal (CA-47), Niki Tsongas (MA-3), Brenda Lawrence (MI-14), and Jared Polis (CO-2) – led on major environmental issues last year, which are highlighted in the 2015 National Environmental Scorecard released on February 24th. 


Senators Edward Markey (MA) and Jeff Merkley (OR) and Representative Jared Huffman (CA-2) joined the environmental community to urge the Obama Administration to protect America’s coasts from offshore drilling. The Administration ultimately removed the Atlantic offshore drilling permits in its 2017-2022 plan in March.

Senator Markey (MA) wrote an op-ed reviewing the Obama Administration’s plans to evaluate coal leasing and subsidies on federally managed land.

Senator Bennet (CO) joined League of Conservation President Gene Karpinski, Conservation Colorado Executive Director Pete Maysmith, and League of Conservation Voters Vice President for Government Affairs Sara Chieffo for a telephone town hall to discuss clean energy and conservation issues.

Senator Brian Schatz (HI) is fighting to ensure that the media appropriately informs the public about the dangers of climate change.

Senator Ben Cardin (MD) and Representative John Delaney wrote an op-ed urging Congress to support more investments in clean energy.

Senators Harry Reid (NV) and Angus King (ME) introduced an amendment to protect customers of solar and residential renewable energy sources from abusive rate hikes.

Senators Tim Kaine (VA) and Mark Warner (VA) and Representatives Bobby Scott (VA-3) and Scott Rigell (VA-2) advocated for funding increases to address rising sea levels in Virginia. They were successful in getting more than $120 million to help Hampton Roads communities adapt to challenges due to climate change.

Champions in the House of Representatives, led by Representatives Xavier Becerra (CA-34), Chris Van Hollen (MD-8), Scott Peters (CA-52), and Alan Lowenthal (CA-47) are supporting global climate action efforts in the federal budget debate.

Representatives Alan Lowenthal (CA-47) and Raul Grijalva (AZ-3) introduced legislation to hold fossil fuel companies financially accountable for extracting resources from public lands. This bill, along with other environmental legislation, will help reduce pollution and address climate change. Rep. Lowenthal also spoke to the House floor in response to the Supreme Court’s rule to temporarily pause the EPA’s Clean Power Plan.

With so much at stake, environmental leaders in the House, such as Representatives Debbie Wasserman Schultz (CA-23), Diana DeGette (CO-1), Ben Ray Luján (NM-3), Ruben Gallego (AZ-7), and Mark Takano (CA-41) are urging the Senate to do its job by giving the President’s nominee a fair hearing and a timely vote in a video.


Pro-environment members in the House of Representatives, led by Representative Jared Huffman (CA-2) introduced measures to protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. This effort attracted allies from both parties in Congress, including Republican Representative Bob Dold (IL-10).

Representative Ted Lieu (CA-33), along with other members of Congress, are working to hold fossil fuel companies like ExxonMobil accountable for denying climate science

Representative Kathy Castor (FL-14) wrote an op-ed promoting clean energy development both in her home state of Florida and the rest of the United States to protect our environment and boost the economy.

Representative Mike Quigley (IL-5), in both a Medium post and a floor speech, noted the connection between the great environmental challenges that our country faces with the important issues of national security.

Representative Barbara Lee (CA-13) wrote an op-ed in favor of providing loans and grants for low-income families to invest in solar energy.

Representative Steve Cohen (TN-9) wrote an op-ed noting the connection between climate change and severe weather and pushed for action to address climate change.

We thank our environmental champions and allies for their hard work, and we look forward to their continued efforts in pushing for environmental progress.

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