Cartwright, Whitehouse Introduce Bill to Protect Natural Resources from Climate Change
Washington, DC – Today, U.S. Representative Matt Cartwright (D-PA-17) and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) introduced a bill to protect the country’s wildlife and natural resources from climate change. Building on existing federal, state, and local efforts, Whitehouse and Cartwright’s Safeguarding America’s Future and Environment (SAFE) Act would establish an integrated national approach to ongoing and expected effects of extreme weather and climate change.
“Climate change poses an immediate and long-term threat to the natural resources and environmental landscape that so many local communities depend on. Preparing for climate change will reduce long-term costs and protect our nation’s natural resources for future generations,” said Rep. Cartwright, vice-chair of the Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition (SEEC). “This bill will develop a climate change adaption plan to protect our lands and waters, such as the Delaware River and Pocono Mountains. I look forward to working with Senator Whitehouse on this vital legislation.”
“Responsible management of natural resources underpins economic opportunity and quality of life for all our communities. In Rhode Island, we know how important it is to safeguard natural treasures like Narragansett Bay and our beautiful coastline, which drive our economy and make our state a wonderful place to live,” said Sen. Whitehouse. “This bill would establish a nationwide strategy to build on the good work Rhode Islanders and Americans everywhere are doing to protect their environment from climate change and prepare for what’s to come.”
The SAFE Act would require federal natural resource agencies to form an interagency working group to plan and implement a long-term national climate change adaptation strategy based on the best available science. State, local, and tribal governments, as well as nongovernmental organizations, academic institutions, and private sector representatives, would be called upon to lend their expertise to the working group. The legislation would require agencies to work together to identify and prioritize specific conservation and management strategies and actions to respond to extreme weather and climate change. It would also encourage the development of state-specific adaptation plans.
This national strategy would guide federal adaptation plans and reduce redundancy and costs. The SAFE Act would also create the National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center, which would develop and compile scientific information on climate variability.
“This last year we witnessed widespread destruction of habitats by catastrophic fires, floods, and hurricanes that were worsened by our warming climate,” said Jamie Rappaport Clark, president and CEO of Defenders of Wildlife. “We need to prepare for the real impacts of climate change, and the SAFE Act provides a roadmap to conserve our irreplaceable natural resources in the face of these threats. Senator Whitehouse and Representative Cartwright are showing real and much needed leadership on one of today’s most important issues. We need to manage our forests, waters, and wetlands to withstand the onslaught of a warming planet.”
Endorsing organizations include Defenders of Wildlife, Rocky Mountain Wild, Winter Wildlands Alliance, American Rivers, National Wildlife Federation, Conservation Northwest, American Society of Landscape Architects, Climate Resilience Fund, and the Wildlife Society.