The Mark UP

Richard Burr’s silence on climate change is dangerous for North Carolina

North Carolinians should elect Deborah Ross their next U.S. Senator. Your children will thank you for it.

Hurricane Matthew, a record-setting storm that dumped up to 18 inches of rain on North Carolina towns from Wilmington to Raleigh, caused catastrophic damage and tragic loss of life. As of early this week, at least 26 people have died and more than 2,000 remained in shelters. The financial costs are massive, too, with $1.5 billion in damage to homes, businesses, and government buildings. That number rises to a crushing $4 billion when taking into account the lost economic output as a result of the damage and cleanup.

The science behind manmade climate change is clear and well-documented. According to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) analysis, Hurricane Matthew brought with it rainfall totals we should only experience once in a thousand years. Warmer oceans and high levels of atmospheric moisture likely contributed to these historic rainfall totals. Scientists tell us that without immediate meaningful climate action, North Carolinians, and indeed all Americans, can expect a future with more frequent and devastating weather events like Matthew.

In North Carolina, these dangers have fallen on U.S. Senator Richard Burr’s deaf ears for too long, and now he faces a powerful challenger in former Democratic state senator Deborah Ross. The outcome of this very close race should interest anyone who worries about the effects of climate change and the future we’ll leave our children.

Here’s why:

  • Last year, Burr voted NOT to formally acknowledge human activity’s role in climate change;
  • He has voted to preserve tax benefits for fossil fuel companies and tried to restrict the EPA’s authority to regulate the harmful greenhouse gases that cause climate change;
  • Burr was a staunch supporter of the Keystone XL pipeline;
  • He opposes limits on harmful carbon pollution (Clean Power Plan) and the landmark Paris Climate Agreement, the best chance we have to stave off the worst effects of climate change;
  • Burr supports dangerous offshore drilling, which could threaten North Carolina’s coastlines;
  • The League of Conservation Voters ranks Burr among the most dangerous enemies of climate, public health and the environment in Congress.

Burr’s positions on climate change and the environment are intolerable, and they are in line with the positions of those who bankroll his political campaigns. Since his first term in Congress, Burr has racked up $1.7 million in contributions from the energy industry, and just since his last campaign, the fossil fuel industry has pitched in nearly $900,000. Plus, the Senate Leadership Fund, a Republican super PAC whose top contributors are Chevron and Petrodome Energy, has gone all-out in spending on attack ads against Deborah Ross.

Richard Burr has tied himself tightly to the fossil fuels of the past and has consistently voted to block any action that would protect Americans from a changing climate. North Carolinians who value a stable climate and secure future should elect Deborah Ross their next U.S. Senator. Your children will thank you for it.

Kevin Curtis is Executive Director of the NRDC Action Fund.