As we travel across Delaware and Indiana, we consistently hear concerns that our climate is changing and our constituents are looking for Congress to step up and take action.
In its current state, our national conversation on this issue is too polarized, toxic, and unproductive. In this environment, American leadership is sidelined, instead replaced by partisan bickering. To us, this is unacceptable.
Today, we are launching the Senate Climate Solutions Caucus, a bipartisan group of senators who, like the Americans we serve, believe Congress should play a central role in guiding America’s 21st century energy economy and addressing the challenge of a changing climate. Our caucus seeks to take the politics out of this important issue. Instead, members will commit to an honest dialogue, through which we can develop solutions that solidify American environmental leadership, promote American workers, and make meaningful progress on protecting our environment.
We are not going into this challenge empty handed. American innovators have laid the groundwork by making significant progress, inventing new technologies to increase efficiency and decrease the environmental impacts of manufacturing, agricultural production, and electricity generation. Every day, another American company announces a pledge to achieve carbon neutrality. Congress can build on these efforts, giving American businesses the tools they need to get there.
We recognize the simple reality that climate policy is too serious to ram through Congress on a partisan basis. Republicans and Democrats have to work together, compromise, and find common ground. Our caucus will help facilitate these discussions by bringing an equal number of members from each party to the table, and it will only act when each member agrees. We will meet regularly and convene experts from across the political spectrum to discuss ideas such as developing economic incentives to reduce emissions, promoting the role of agriculture as a climate solution, and ensuring that any energy transition protects American energy consumers while supporting energy security and workforce development.
We may seem an unlikely pair to team up on this effort. We come from different political parties and represent different parts of the country, but we both recognize the importance of American leadership in addressing our changing climate.
For example, Delaware has the lowest average elevation in the country. Studies have indicated that in less than 50 years, nearly 7,000 Delawareans could see their homes destroyed by flooding caused by rising sea levels. Some of Delaware’s largest industries rely on stable, predictable weather to function and remain profitable. The state dedicates 40 percent of its land to agriculture production and counts tourism as its fourth largest private industry sector. Rising temperatures, paired with increasing droughts and severe storms, have created serious issues for these industries and the thousands of people they employ.
Indiana is one of the largest agriculture and manufacturing states in the country where 70 percent of our energy relies on coal. This is why it is critical that Indiana be represented at the table to make sure that progress on environmental policy is balanced by the need to continue building good paying Hoosiers jobs. The state has made great progress at improving environmental outcomes in the past, but there is room for our manufacturing, agriculture, and energy sectors to continue leading the nation in innovation.
We look forward to working with our colleagues to address this challenge in a way that strengthens our competitiveness, grows our economy, and creates opportunity for American workers. This bipartisan caucus is an important step forward.
Coons is the junior senator from Delaware and is a member of the Appropriations Committee. Braun is the junior senator from Indiana and is a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee.