For nine years, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, a Democrat representing Rhode Island since 2007, made weekly speeches called “Time To Wake Up” urging the Senate to take action on the climate emergency.
He ended the weekly ritual once Joe Biden became president and Democrats took control of both houses of Congress. But now, with hopes of new climate legislation in shambles, Whitehouse is back at it again. “I revived the speech series because I lost confidence in the momentum for a climate solution,” he said.
Whitehouse spoke to the Guardian about Biden’s stalled climate agenda, dark money influencing politics, and a future beyond fossil fuels.
Why has there been no visible progress when there is a Democrat in the White House and Democrats control Congress?
“The Democratic party has never taken climate change as seriously as it should. It has never put the energy into it that would create a public reaction of support that would then encourage more activity.
More specifically, we put all of our eggs in the basket of the big reconciliation bill [Build Back Better legislation], and the belief that everything was going to be made right by that. To the extent we needed to keep the caucus together for that piece of legislation, we weren’t going to do anything serious on regulation or on litigation lest it disturb the process. That was not the best way to go. We need to reboot. We need to do what we can through legislation but we also need to really push the throttle forward on regulation and on litigation.” [Continue reading…]