January 17, 2014
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Climate change is a very real and dangerous threat, U.S. Senator Angus King said this week at a press conference with twelve of his Senate colleagues. Citing the impact on Maine’s lobster industry as an example, he spoke of the urgent need for Congress to take action.
According to statistics from the Maine Department of Marine Resources, lobstermen in Maine landed more than 125 million pounds of lobster in 2012 with an estimated value exceeding $340 million. The total economic impact on the State of Maine is approximated at as much as $1.7 billion. As coastal water temperatures rise, however, the most abundant point of the lobster population is migrating northward, which could imperil the lobster industry’s future.
Senator King on Wednesday highlighted the hardship that Maine lobstermen face as he joined his colleagues to announce the formation of the Senate Climate Action Task Force, a coalition of lawmakers who are committed to raising the public profile of the issue and who intend to pursue legislative action to mitigate its effects.
“Congress may not know what’s going on, but the Maine lobsters know what’s going on because they’re moving north,” Senator King said. “The Maine lobstermen are about as conservative a bunch of people as you can find on this planet but they know that something’s changing out there. They’re finding seahorses in their lobster traps. That’s change. It’s climate change and it’s having a direct effect.”
You can watch Senator King’s remarks at the press conference below.
Senator King is a strong advocate for Congressional action on climate change and has frequently referenced the rising temperatures of Maine’s coastal waters, the subsequent northward migration of fish stocks up the state’s coast and to deeper, colder waters, and the hardship that it could impose on Maine’s lobster industry as an example of why action is needed now. Last September, Senator King spoke at length on the Senator floor to warn about the dangers of inaction.
“Everything that you need to know about this issue can be embodied in the Maine rototiller rule. The Maine rototiller rule is if you borrow your neighbor’s rototiller, you always give it back…in as good of shape as you got it and with a full tank of gas,” Senator King said. “We have the planet on loan. We don’t own it. We have the planet on loan from future generations, and there’s a lot of talk around here…about children and grandchildren and debt and deficit. The most solemn responsibility we have is to leave our descendants with the planet in as good shape or better than we found it. It’s pretty straight forward and for the life of me…I can’t understand why this is a partisan issue.”
Senator Sheldon Whitehouse and Senator Barbara Boxer, Chairwoman of the Committee on the Environment and Public Works are co-chairs of the Senate Climate Action Task Force. Other members include: Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Senator Al Franken (D-MN), Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI), Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT), Senator Ed Markey (D-MA), and Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ).