WASHINGTON – With Senate Republicans having shut down debate of amendments to S.1, which would usurp the Administration’s review process and approve construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline, U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.) on Monday called for a vote on his own amendment to the bill. The Senate is due to vote on cloture on S.1 on Monday evening.

“The Senate ought to be having a real debate about our energy and climate future,” Senator Coons said. “If we want to debate our nation’s energy strategy and efforts to combat climate change, the Senate should be considering a broader energy package that would support clean energy innovation, create jobs, lower energy costs, make us more energy-independent, and protect the environment. Now that the Senate has acknowledged that climate change is real, we should take the next step and acknowledge that it is the fiscally responsible thing to do to prepare for the impacts of climate change on our nation’s infrastructure. My amendment and the many other important amendments that have been offered still deserve a vote.”

Senator Coons’ amendment, #115, says — now that the Senate has agreed that climate change is real in an earlier amendment vote — the federal government should take additional steps to address the impacts and costs that climate change will have on our infrastructure. The amendment acknowledges that it's more fiscally responsible to plan for and mitigate the impacts of sea level rise, increasing temperatures, and extreme weather now than to try to repair the damage afterward, and it makes clear that the federal government does have a role to play in preparing our communities for climate change. 

Full text of the amendment is below.

It is the sense of Congress that—

(1) climate change is already impacting the safety and reliability of the critical infrastructure systems of the United States, including buildings, roads, bridges, tunnels, rail, ports, airports, levees, dams, and military installations through sea level rise, rising temperatures, and more frequent and intense extreme weather events such as droughts, floods, wildfires, and heat waves;

(2) significant energy, industrial and transportation infrastructure in the United States is located near the coast, in floodplains, or in other areas vulnerable to sea level rise;

(3) the impacts to infrastructure described in paragraph (1) have caused tangible economic costs that are likely to increase over time;

(4) it is fiscally prudent to prepare for and seek to mitigate the impacts described in paragraph (1), as it is estimated that every dollar spent on mitigation saves $4 in disaster relief;

(5) the Federal Government self-insures, offers insurance programs such as crop insurance and the national flood insurance program, and, in the case of extreme weather events, also serves as the insurer of last resort for public and private infrastructure;

(6) the Federal Government has a crucial role to play as a partner in working with State, local, tribal, and territorial jurisdictions to help ensure coordinated efforts to keep communities resilient;

(7) the role of the Federal Government should include prioritizing climate resilient projects when administering Federal grants, providing technical support, and sharing of data and information in user-friendly and accessible formats, among other actions;

(8) Federal agency climate change adaptation plans that assess the risk to physical assets and missions of the Federal agencies can help create savings for taxpayers; and

 (9) Federal agencies, including the Department of Defense, should quantify the economic value of the physical risks of the agencies from climate change.