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Whitehouse brings senate committee to discuss global warming's impact on Narragansett Bay

News Advisory from U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse

Providence, R.I. -- August 13, 2008 -- From rising water levels to increasing water temperatures and changing fish populations, global warming's impact on Narragansett Bay is measurable, growing, and in need of urgent action. To raise Rhode Islanders’ awareness of the effects of climate change on the Bay, our coastal areas, and our communities, U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) will chair a field briefing of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW) at the University of Rhode Island's Bay Campus to discuss the implications of global warming for Narragansett Bay.

"Left unchecked, climate change will affect every community in every nation on earth, altering our Ocean State – and the entire world – in ways we are only beginning to understand, and coastal communities will be among those at greatest risk," said Whitehouse. "This issue is real, time is of the essence, and action is called for."

The briefing, which will be held on Thursday, August 21, is open to the public. Members of Rhode Island’s scientific and environmental advocacy communities will present evidence of the impacts of climate change on the Bay and discuss ways in which the state can prepare. The briefing is considered to be an official meeting of the EPW Committee, and its proceedings will be entered into the Committee’s official record.

EVENT: Sheldon Whitehouse Chairs Senate EPW Committee Briefing on Global
Warming’s Impact on Narragansett Bay

WHEN: Thursday, August 21, 2008, 10:30 am

WHERE: University of Rhode Island, Bay Campus, Corliss Auditorium
South Ferry Road, Narragansett, R.I.

Witnesses testifying at the briefing will include:
• Dr. Kate Moran, Director, Marine Geomechanics Laboratory, University of Rhode Island
• Dr. Jon C. Boothroyd, State Geologist, Rhode Island Geological Survey
• Grover Fugate, Executive Director, Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council
• John Torgan, Narragansett Baykeeper, Save the Bay
• Dr. Caroly Shumway, Director of Conservation Science, The Nature Conservancy

The Senate EPW Committee is responsible for reviewing all Senate legislation pertaining to the environment, particularly matters related to global warming, environmental health, and air and water quality. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) has served as Chairman of the Committee since January 2007.

As a member of the Senate EPW Committee, Whitehouse has worked to draw lawmakers' attention to the impact of global warming on the Bay. At the Committee’s inaugural hearing in January 2007, Whitehouse delivered a presentation reviewing scientific evidence of temperature changes and recent fish kills in Narragansett Bay. The Bay's annual mean winter temperature has increased by about 4 degrees Fahrenheit over the past 20 years, an ecosystem shift for fish and shellfish populations which threatens the fragile and rich diversity of marine life and could have implications for Rhode Island’s fishing and tourism industries.

Last year, Whitehouse introduced the Global Warming Wildlife Survival Act (S. 2204), which calls for a coordinated national strategy to help wildlife populations and habitats, including coastal and marine animals and ecosystems, adapt to stresses related to climate change. The goals of this bill were incorporated into the Climate Security Act (S. 2191), which was debated briefly before the full Senate before Republicans blocked its further consideration. Whitehouse also offered an amendment to the Climate Security Act, which passed in Committee, that would ensure that coastal and Great Lakes communities affected by climate change have the information they need, such as data on projected sea level rise, severe weather, and associated flood risks, to prepare for and adapt to global warming.

On the Web: For more information on Whitehouse's work on climate change, visit the "Protecting Our Environment" page on our web site.

Senator Whitehouse Media Contact: Alex Swartsel, 202-228-6293

Directions to the Narragansett Bay Campus.