The Need to Act on Climate Change

In November, I wrote to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy to support EPA’s comprehensive Clean Power Plan to lower carbon pollution while urging EPA to adopt a structure that would be fairer to the Commonwealth. Pennsylvania powers states throughout the region and has made great strides as a leader in the development of clean energy sources.


We must be serious about the threat of climate change for the sake of public health, national security and children’s health. I support the need for a comprehensive climate change plan. We must rise to the challenge of climate change and revitalize our economy by increasing our efforts in the areas of energy efficiency; developing and adopting cleaner ways of producing electricity; and creating jobs.

The key points of my letter:

  • We must take action on climate change because it poses a serious threat to public health, the environment and national security.
  • The transition to cleaner energy must include a pathway for multiple forms of electricity generation including clean coal, natural gas, nuclear, hydropower, wind, solar, biomass and other renewables, as well as energy efficiency measures.
  • EPA’s comprehensive four-building-block plan is a necessary and effective approach to reducing carbon pollution.
  • Pennsylvania is a net-energy-producing state (generating more power than it consumes) whose economy is built on affordable electricity for manufacturing and other energy-intensive industries.
  • EPA’s renewable energy target for Pennsylvania imposes an unequal burden on the Commonwealth relative to other states with much greater renewable energy potential, and it wouldn’t be possible to get greater carbon pollution reductions from the other three building blocks in Pennsylvania.
  • EPA must give greater recognition to zero-carbon sources such as nuclear power and hydropower to provide an incentive for these sources to remain in operation, as they make up a large portion of Pennsylvania’s electricity sources that would lower its carbon pollution rate.

Renaming the Philadelphia VA

I am pleased to see that both the Senate and House have approved legislation to rename the Philadelphia VA Medical Center after Corporal Michael J. Crescenz.  As an original co-sponsor of this legislation in the Senate, I am proud to see that Corporal Crescenz courageous actions are being appropriately honored as Philadelphia’s only Medal of Honor recipient from the Vietnam War.

Re-naming of the Philadelphia VA Medical Center is a tribute to the heroism of Corporal Michael Crescenz, as well as servicemembers across the country and throughout our history who have made the ultimate sacrifice to keep American's safe. As this dedication now moves to the President’s desk for his signature, it will serve as a reminder of the debt of gratitude we all owe to these brave men and women.

His full Medal of Honor citation is available here.

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Veterans

Honoring our Veterans

On Veterans Day, we come together to honor the brave men and women who have served our nation valiantly. As we mark Veterans Day, it is not only a time to thank our veterans for their service, but to also acknowledge the debt we owe them for protecting us and preserving our freedom. We must also recognize the sacrifices of the families of veterans – the mothers and fathers and especially the spouses and children.

While today highlights the heroic service of our Veterans, we must honor their sacrifices every day of the year. Serving our veterans requires actions not just words. As Americans we must ensure that all veterans have what they need when they return home, especially healthcare, education and employment opportunities.

I look forward to continuing to work in a bipartisan way to ensure our veterans and their families receive a level of care and service worthy of their sacrifice.

National Service Congressional Caucus

This month, I became a member of the National Service Congressional Caucus. I’m proud to join with my Senate colleagues, from both parties, to support the vital role of national service programs in strengthening communities across America. Members of the caucus are dedicated to raising awareness and expanding service opportunities for all Americans.

After college, I had the privilege to serve as a fifth grade teacher and eighth grade basketball coach in North Philadelphia for the Jesuit Volunteer Corps. Those experiences had a profound impact on my life and I hope they were as significant for the children I served as they were for me. As Governor of Pennsylvania, my father created the Governor’s Office of Citizen Service, better known as PennSERVE. My friend Senator Harris Wofford led the Corporation for National Community Service for six years after serving Pennsylvania. With more than 3,000 Americorps members and more than 15,000 Senior Corps members serving in Pennsylvania this year, I’m proud to continue our state’s rich tradition of service to others and support national service in the United States Senate.

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Human Rights in Iran

Last week, Iranian citizens took to the streets of Isfahan to protest a recent spate of violent acid attacks against women.  Holding placards showing their solidarity with the victims, the peaceful protestors called for Iranian authorities to hold the attackers accountable.

We know that these kind of egregious attacks happen against women around the world, and I have spoken out before about incidents in Afghanistan and Pakistan.  Women are often the drivers of economic growth and cultural change, but they are also often the targets of horrible violence.

What is especially troubling about the Isfahan attacks is that they follow the passage of a new law in Iranian parliament, which is reportedly “designed to protect those who correct people acting in an un-Islamic way.”  It is the women, the survivors, who should be protected, not their attackers.

Even as the Administration continues to negotiate with the Iranian regime on nuclear issues, we cannot lose sight of the regime’s egregious human rights record.  The Iranian government must take action – at both the local and federal levels – to hold accountable those hardliners who perpetrated these attacks and to reverse the legislative framework that protects these criminals.

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