Senator Renews Calls for Climate Emergency to Unlock Broad, Crucial Powers to Respond to Climate Chaos
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley issued the following response as President Biden responded to this summer’s climate crisis by asking the Department of Labor (DOL) to ramp up efforts to protect workers from extreme heat, directing the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to improve weather forecasts for periods of extreme heat, and increasing the Department of Interior’s investments for water storage in California, Colorado, and Washington:
“Americans are roasting and suffering under extreme heat and smoke in nearly every corner of our country. In Arizona, people are getting third degree burns just from falling on the ground, while even East Coast states are experiencing air clogged with smoke from forest fires. Whether at work or seeking relief at home, Americans can’t escape oppressive temperatures and extreme weather events exacerbated by climate chaos.
“On their own, each of these administrative actions will help the American people survive and get past the extreme heat down the line. But, scientists have been clear that because of climate chaos, this is our new reality, and things are only going to get worse if we don’t rapidly transition from fossil fuels.
“We can’t treat this as a one-off event. In July, average temperatures for the entire globe have been the highest on record. Add that on top of the last nine years being the nine warmest years on record. We are in a climate emergency. We can’t take a piecemeal approach to the massive crisis we face.
“July should be a wakeup call for everyone. First, President Biden should direct FEMA to unlock its authority to allow governors to address extreme heat and smoke events, and ask Congress to fund it robustly in an emergency disaster supplemental. FEMA should prioritize protecting the American people, not just property. And FEMA funding should be used not only to respond to heat and smoke emergencies, but also to better prepare for when they happen again.
“Second, President Biden should develop a plan to end the reliance on fossil fuels that is causing this crisis. Any plan should start by ending approval of new fossil projects.
“Finally, the President should use his broad and crucial powers by declaring a climate emergency under the National Emergencies Act. Under a Climate Emergency, the President can move decisively and swiftly to address the climate chaos happening all around us. Declaring a Climate Emergency is the best way for us to holistically protect the environment, public health, the planet, American workers, American consumers, and our national security from the worst effects of climate chaos.
“What we can’t afford is to sit idly by. The President is taking good steps to protect the American people in modest ways, but what we need is a sea change in this Administration’s approach. No more greenlighting fossil gas projects. No more stalling on a Climate Emergency. Now is the time for us to live up to the full promise of the Inflation Reduction Act and once-and-for-all make the transition to clean, renewable energy and create high-quality union jobs while we do it.”