Democratic Sen. Al Franken said Thursday that it's short-sighted for the Trump administration to promote fossil fuel jobs at the expense of the East Coast's ability to avoid being under water.
"What about the jobs we are going to have dealing with climate dislocation and refugees? What about the jobs we're going to have when the East Coast is flooded? What about those jobs?" Franken asked of David Bernhardt, President Trump's nominee for Interior deputy secretary, at an energy committee confirmation hearing.
"I think it's very short-sighted to talk about the extra jobs you get by drilling for fossil fuels," Franken said.
He added that the science says that by the end of the century, the temperature of the Earth would be four degrees hotter, leading to more flooding. "The science is in," Franken said.
Here's the back-and-forth at the hearing that led up to Franken's pointed questioning:
Bernhardt: I believe we need to take the science as it comes. Whatever that is.
Franken: I think the science is pretty decided on this.
Bernhardt: I know. And we talked about that in your office.
Franken: And in my office you seem to agree.
Bernhardt: I certainly agree that we take the science as we find it, whatever it is. And I personally believe that the contribution is significant, very significant. Now that's different than what we do with it. And here's where people will disagree. My task will be to take the science as we find it, put it in the paradigm of the administration's policy perspective, which is we're not going to sacrifice jobs for this. And then look at the legal rubric and say, 'How do we apply the law there?'"
Franken: When you say 'sacrifice jobs.' We know there are a lot more jobs in clean energy. And we've seen a lot more jobs in solar, and we've seen a lot more jobs in wind. Sen. Manchin [of West Virginia] sits to my right. I know that he likes coal jobs, but they're not coming back, and that's partly due to natural gas. What about the jobs we are going to have dealing with climate dislocation and refugees? What about the jobs we're going to have when the East Coast is flooded. What about those jobs?
I think it's very short-sighted to talk about the extra jobs you get by drilling for fossil fuels when the science is telling us that by the end of the century ... [the temperature of the Earth would be 4 degrees hotter.] The science is in.
Bernhardt: Would you like me to respond?
Franken: That's what the long pause was for.
Bernhardt: This president won on particular policy perspective. That perspective is not going to change to the extent we have the discretion under the law to follow it. In some instances, we might not. But in those that we do, we are absolutely going to follow the policy perspective of the president. Here's why: That's the way our republic works, and he is the president.