Climate change: The time to act is now
As the lowest-lying state in the country, Delaware - and Sussex County, in particular - is on the front lines of dealing with climate change, and as Delaware farmers, local business leaders and homeowners will tell you, the effects of climate change don’t discriminate between Republicans, Independents and Democrats. Climate change impacts all of us - so we should all be working together to address it.
That’s not the way folks in Washington approach most issues, but in Sussex County, I’ve found that people know problems are best solved with cooperation, and that’s the approach I’m trying to take to address climate change in the U.S. Senate.
Last fall, I founded the bipartisan Senate Climate Solutions Caucus with Republican Sen. Mike Braun from Indiana. The idea behind it is simple: We both know that climate change is real and that it’s already impacting every state in the country, so it’s time for Republicans and Democrats to work together and do something about it.
It turns out, we’re not alone in thinking that, and already, members of both parties have decided to join us.
In the coming months, we’re going to be working together with a focus on bipartisan solutions we can agree on, vote on and enact. Every idea is fair game, everything is on the table, and we are off to a good start.
This isn’t a new issue for me, though. Since I was first elected to the Senate, addressing climate change has been important to me, and I think there are several commonsense steps we can take right now to make a difference.
For starters, we can enhance our ability to generate clean and consistent power. Republican Sen. Martha McSally and I introduced the Nuclear Energy Renewal Act to support nuclear power sources and cut harmful emissions. We can take simple steps to make our federal buildings more energy efficient and save taxpayer dollars in the process, which is the goal of my bipartisan bill with Senator Cory Gardner from Colorado. This effort simultaneously supports local jobs and invests in a more sustainable future.
Another proposal is the Financing Our Energy Future Act that I’m working on with Republican Sen. Jerry Moran from Kansas, which would give clean energy projects access to a tax advantage currently available only to oil, gas and coal projects. This bill would level the playing field for renewable energy sources and is currently supported by eight Republicans and an equal number of Democrats.
These are bills we can pass right now in the Senate to promote energy efficiency, support jobs, and help mitigate the effects of climate change.
From rising sea levels eroding our coastlines and skyrocketing flood insurance prices that threaten homeowners and businesses to serious impacts on Sussex County’s agricultural industries, climate change is something we’re already dealing with.
The bottom line is this: We can’t wait any longer to address climate change, and we can - and should - do it in a bipartisan way.
Increasingly severe and unpredictable weather has created real challenges for our farmers, who are already strained by low commodity prices and ongoing trade disputes. Changing weather patterns and rising sea levels also pose serious threats to our homes, local businesses and transportation infrastructure. Thousands of properties in Southern Delaware are highly susceptible to chronic flooding in the near future, many of which are many miles from our coastline.
Addressing climate change doesn’t have to be another partisan political battle. I view it as an opportunity for us to show what we’re capable of by working together, finding solutions, and getting things done. We can do it, but the time to act is now.
Sen. Chris Coons is the junior senator from Delaware.