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August 03, 2021

King Urges Aggressive Action Against Climate Change – “ I Want to Be Winston Churchill, Not Neville Chamberlain”

Later in the hearing, Senator King gains commitment from Interior nominee on transparency, real-time updates on implementation of the “crowning achievement” Great American Outdoors Act

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Citing recent natural disasters including excessive heat, raging wildfires, and devastating droughts, U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) today emphasized the urgent threat posed by climate change in a hearing of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. During the hearing, Senator King pressed Dr. Geraldine Richmond, nominee to serve as Under Secretary for Science, Department of Energy, on the timeline for climate action to prevent crises. In response, Dr. Richmond highlighted the need to act urgently and advance clean technologies that reduce climate change’s impacts.

SENATOR KING: “Dr. Richmond, we've mentioned the subject of climate change several times – I'm haunted by the experience of England between the World Wars, particularly in the '30s. Winston Churchill wrote his first volume of the history of World War Two, called The Gathering Storm, which was about the period of the '30s, when English politicians essentially denied or ignored the growing threat from a militarizing Germany. I wonder how we are going to be viewed 20 years from now in terms of the threat of climate change. This summer has really brought it into stark focus with wildfires earlier than ever, larger than ever, drought, the excessive heat in the northwest. If ever we're getting a warning, it's now. And yet we're still sort of arguing about it and moving forward. And we are taking steps in various bills and legislation. But do you share my sense of urgency about this and that, when the history of this period is written, I want to be Winston Churchill, not Neville Chamberlain. Can we do more and should we do more?”

DR. RICHMOND: “Thank you, Senator King, for that really important question. You mentioned that when we look back after 30 years and wonder if we made the wrong decision, I'd say that's closer to 20, maybe 15. This is urgent. We have to take action now and the Department of Energy has to be the leader in taking those initiatives that will make us not regret that we did nothing for now and the next, even five or six years, whatever it is. And I assure you that that will be, if confirmed, a top priority of mine to basically save the planet, to do the technologies that we need to save the planet ourselves, but also our children. Thank you.”

A forceful advocate for clean energy solutions wherever they can be found, Senator King is a founding member of the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus, and a lead sponsor on a range of bills that encourage energy efficiency and research on clean energy technologies. Senator King has been outspoken about climate dangers posed by methane, an extremely dangerous greenhouse gas released during natural gas extraction. Senator King is a leader in the effort to repeal the Trump Administration’s relaxation of methane regulations – which passed the Senate in April.


Later during his questioning period, Senator King – who also is Chairman of the Senate National Parks Subcommittee – gained a “100 percent commitment” from Cynthia Stachelberg – nominee to be an Assistant Secretary of the Interior – for transparency in implementation of the Great American Outdoors Act. 

SENATOR KING: “Ms. Stachelberg, let me ask a completely different question. Senator Heinrich mentioned the Great American Outdoors Act – and I think one of the most important principles is that execution is as important as vision. We supplied the vision and now you have to supply the execution and the implementation. I hope that you will commit to absolute transparency and clarity about the administration of those...of the Great American Outdoors Act to Restore Our Parks Act, where the money is going, how it's decided where it's going, what the formulas are. I think that would be very important in giving us the confidence in the administration of this important program.”

STACHELBURG: “Senator, as I said earlier, I think the Great American Outdoors Act certainly is one of the Secretary's highest priorities. It was a crowning achievement last year in a significant bipartisan way. You absolutely have my one hundred percent commitment on that front, in addition to committing to you to be transparent on this issue. That's the way I will work if I'm confirmed as Assistant Secretary for Planning, Management and Budget at the Department of Interior. I think it's also important, especially with the Great American Outdoors Act and the Land and Water Conservation Fund and spending the taxpayer's money wisely, that we encourage local community driven conservation projects. And I'm looking forward if I'm confirmed to working with you and this committee to ensure that we spend those dollars wisely, that we create outdoor recreation opportunities and provide much needed open spaces for families, and boost local economies. So thank you for your question.”

Senator King helped lead the passage of the Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA) into law; the legislation includes the Restore Our Parks Act – a bill led in part by Senator King – and the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) Permanent Funding Act. The historic legislative package continues Senator King’s career-long focus on conservation efforts, dating back to his work prior to running for elected office through his years as Governor and his service in the Senate. Over the course of his time in the Blaine House, Governor King was responsible for conserving more land across Maine than all Governors before him combined. In recognition of his lifetime of environmental advocacy, Senator King was recently awarded the inaugural National Park Foundation (NPF) “Hero” Award.

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