A picture of Senator Harry Reid
Harry R.
Democrat NV

About Sen. Harry
  • Hire More Heroes Act of 2015—Continued

    by Senator Harry Reid

    Posted on 2015-07-29

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    REID. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the next 40 minutes be under the control of the Democratic side and that the time be equally divided among the following Senators: Reid, Boxer, Whitehouse, Markey, Schatz, and Schumer.

    The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection? Without objection, it is so ordered.

    Climate Change Mr. REID. Mr. President, at virtually every caucus we have, every Tuesday caucus, I have Senators report on what is going on in the world as it relates to climate change.

    I wish these were fun-filled presentations where people laughed, clapped, and smiled, but they are not. They are very downbeat because each Senator who makes a presentation--whether it is the senior Senator from New Hampshire, who talks about moose dying in her State because the fleas and ticks no longer die in the cold weather, she explained how about one-third of the moose are dead in New Hampshire, or whether it is the junior Senator from the State of Michigan talking about what is going on in that beautiful State of Michigan.

    Without going through the list of Senators who have reported what is going on as they see it with climate change, everyone within the sound of my voice should rest assured things are not good. Our world is changing and has already changed drastically.

    The Earth is undergoing a shift, a manmade climate change shift. We don't need to travel to the polar icecaps for proof, although if we did, we would see that too. There is evidence all around. Talking about the polar icecap, think about Alaska. Millions of acres are on fire as we speak--not a fire as we see in the forest or the range lands of Nevada, where you see fire flames flip up into the sky so high it is hard to believe sometimes. But this is burning underground at the permafrost. It is awful what is happening in Alaska.

    But let's talk about Nevada. Nevada is an unusual State in many different ways. We have over 32 mountains more than 11,000 feet high. We have one mountain we share with California that is 14,000 feet high. We have beautiful, beautiful wilderness.

    I have had the good fortune during my time in the Senate to legislate. When I came here, we had about 60,000 acres of wilderness. We are now approaching about 4 million acres of wilderness, and it is beautiful, beautiful country. There are beautiful mountains, antelope, and mountain sheep, of course. We even have mountain goats. It is a beautiful, beautiful State.

    We share Lake Tahoe with California--beautiful, beautiful Lake Tahoe that Mark Twain said is the fairest place on all the Earth. The water level this summer is at a record low. Water we used to take for granted that would come out of the lake isn't coming out anymore.

    Snowpack in the Sierra Nevada Mountains is a fraction of normal levels. A few decades ago, we used to have piles of snow that were unbelievable, tens and tens of feet of snow every winter--no longer. In fact, this past March, World Cup ski cross and snowboardcross races had to be cancelled. Why? We had no snow--no snow at a place where we had the Winter Olympics in Squaw Valley--no snow. They cancelled the races.

    As I have said on the floor, because it is so traumatic as far as I am concerned, many of our black bears aren't even hibernating. It is not cold enough. This past June, a few weeks ago--Lake Mead at one time was the largest manmade lake in America. It isn't anymore because of Lake Powell, which overtook Nevada for the largest manmade lake in America. Lake Powell is on the road to being eliminated. It is part of the great Colorado River program that allows the States of California-- all the upper Colorado States--Arizona, and Nevada, to survive.

    This past June, Lake Mead water levels sunk to record lows--record lows. Towns that were buried with the making of the Boulder, Hoover Dam, we can see them again. St. Thomas is an example. An early Mormon settlement there was buried in the water--no longer. Now they are doing archeological work on what was buried under Lake Mead previously.

    Now, that is only Nevada, and that is only a touch of what is happening in Nevada. Wildfires are devastating our State, wiping out native grasses and plants, causing endangered species that need to be listed as threatened or going extinct because, for example, if you have birds survive in our sagebrush, sagebrush is burned and no longer exists, you get these foreign species that come in, mainly cheatgrass, and it is no good for anything other than more fires. That is what we have in Nevada, devastating wildfires.

    Around the United States, massive floods are destroying life around the globe. The poles are melting. By the year 2050, scientists estimate the sea level will rise in the world by 16 feet.

    What will that do to Florida? Of all the major cities in the world, with virtually no exception, they are all in coastal areas. What coastal city in the world is going to be hit hardest in the world by this climate change, the rising of the seas? Miami, FL, the State of Florida.

    Massive floods are destroying life around the globe. Poles are melting. I repeat, ocean resources are being exhausted.

    Stunningly, Republicans in Congress are ignoring changes to our environment that we are all witnessing. They are here. They are in denial. They are in what I refer to as Koch denial because, remember, everybody, the two Koch brothers don't want us to do anything on climate change. Why? No. 1, it may prevent them from making more billions. They are heavily invested in tar sands in Canada, and, of course, their original fortunes were made in [[Page S6094]] oil, gas, and coal in America. Republicans are in denial. They are in Koch denial.

    Last month House Republicans passed legislation that would rescind President Obama's action addressing air pollution and climate change. That legislation is not going to happen over here, but that is the mindset of the Republicans. Not to be outdone, Republicans here in the Senate are trying the same thing with the Senate Interior and Environment appropriations bill, filling it with policy riders that are dangerous to the planet, dangerous to America.

    Republicans all know the planet is changing--I hope they do, but they don't. If a Republican knows this, they are a rare Republican and I am still waiting for them to step forward. Republicans don't admit it is a problem. Where is their solution? Well, they have none. They have no solution because they refuse to acknowledge there is a problem.

    Let's not fool ourselves as to why Republicans reject climate change. I have already said why. It is the Koch challenge they all have. Every Presidential candidate has to be very careful. There are certain things, and I don't know them all because I am not in attendance at the meetings, but No. 1 is that the Ex-Im Bank has to stay dead. Those 165,000 people working in America, get rid of them. It is a government program, get rid of it--even though, as we speak right now, 40 other countries have working ex-im bank programs that are taking business away from American exporters. My Republican friends are unwilling to stand up to the oil barons who bring their filthy tar sands from Canada.

    Republicans have offered no legislation nor have they offered a single idea that would protect our world from climate change. The closest they came was to try to be funny here on the floor when it snowed and they brought a snowball into the Chamber, saying: It couldn't be climate change; we have some snow today. Well, we did get some snow, but that doesn't mean we don't have climate change.

    It is shameful to turn our back on the biggest dilemma the Earth faces. We must come together to arrest climate change.

    I am very happy that my friend the junior Senator from Rhode Island is here because he is focused on all kinds of issues relating to climate, and he has been the driving force in recognizing that one of the places climate change is devastating our world is our oceans. We can't see that very well because the oceans are so massive, but in places our oceans are already dead--not dying but dead.

    So it is shameful, I repeat, to turn our backs on the biggest dilemma the Earth faces probably in the history of our world. We must come together to address climate change.

    There are solutions that involve, among other things, clean energy. Just a few weeks ago, a solar company announced it would build a 100- megawatt solar farm and sell the power to Nevada's utility. The electricity generated by that solar farm was described by the press as ``not only the cheapest solar--it may be the least expensive electricity in the entire country.'' That is what solar does now. Think about that. The cheapest power being built in America today is solar and it is inexhaustible. It doesn't have to be in the desert, where the Sun shines all the time; it can be used where the Sun doesn't shine all the time, and used well.

    Solutions to address climate change are here. They are right here. Nevada has seen $5 billion in development with solar and geothermal and a little bit of wind. Solutions to address climate change are here, and they are affordable and become more so every day. They have created thousands of jobs. And I misspoke earlier. It is $6 billion in Nevada-- not $5 billion--that has now been invested in clean energy.

    Republicans should stop denying climate change. If they want to keep complaining about the solutions, they should offer their own solutions. But there can't be a solution if they do not see a problem, so I am not going to hold my breath that Republicans are going to change their ways.

    This is the No. 1 issue facing our world. The Defense Department is concerned about the resources they are going to get for manpower. If you ask the people who run the government's military, the Chiefs of Staff, they will tell you they are concerned about what this means for the security of this Nation.

    We cannot ignore this issue any longer. It is affecting the security of this Nation for lots of other reasons--namely, what it does to other countries that puts pressure on us.

    I appreciate very much my colleagues joining in this discussion we are going to have today because it is a discussion we have to have because the world is in trouble because of the climate change.

    The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Cassidy). The Senator from Rhode Island.

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