At his confirmation hearing for Secretary of State, Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) took a strong position on the urgent need for climate action.
Kerry’s likely confirmation is good news for confronting climate change. He has a long career as a climate hawk, taking to the Senate floor to call for action on our “biggest long-term threat” to national security. With the fate of the Keystone XL pipeline in the next Secretary of State’s hands, his remarks may mean some hope for the administration’s decision on the tar sands project. He urged senators to consider the cost of climate inaction, saying “I will spend a lot of time trying to persuade you and other colleagues of this.”
Kerry responded forcefully to Sen. John Barrasso’s (R-WY) concerns over environmental protections hampering the economy:
I would respectfully say to you that climate change is not something to be feared in response to — the steps to respond to — it’s to be feared if we don’t. 3,500 communities in our nation last year broke records for heat … and we had a derailment because of it. We had record fires. We had record levels of damage from sandy, $70 billion. If we can’t see the downside of spending that money and risking lives for all the changes that are taking place, to agriculture, to our communities, the ocean and so forth, we are ignoring what science is telling us. I will be a passionate advocate on this not based on ideology but based on facts and science, and I hope to sit with all of you and convince you that this $6 trillion market is worth millions of American jobs and we better go after it.
Kerry also noted the extraordinary success story renewables play in his home state’s economy. “I can tell you, Massachusetts, fastest growing sector of our economy is clean energy and energy efficiency companies. And they’re growing faster than any other sector,” he said.