Energy Explained

Get the latest as our experts share their insights on global energy policy.


Hear in-depth conversations with the world’s top energy and climate leaders from government, business, academia, and civil society.


Find out more about our upcoming and past events.

Columbia Energy Exchange

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse: A New Chapter for Climate Policy

The debate in Congress over climate change has heightened now that Democrats control the House of Representatives and make the issue one of their top priorities in 2019. But how much can they accomplish in the face of resistance from the Trump Administration and a Republican-led Senate? And what specifically will they work on?

In this edition of the Columbia Energy Exchange podcast, host Bill Loveless sits down with Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, one of the most outspoken advocates of policies to address climate change in Congress. He often addresses the topic on the Senate floor with speeches he calls “Time to Wake Up!” And he’s been a sponsor of legislation to put a price on carbon emissions, too.

But the Rhode Island Democrat is also known for reaching across the political aisle to work with Republicans on bills to promote nuclear energy and carbon-capture technologies.

Bill met with Senator Whitehouse in his office to talk about what Democratic control of the House might mean for the climate debate in Congress this year, including what he makes of the movement for a Green New Deal. Their talk took place a couple of days before one of his colleagues, Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass., and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., unveiled a resolution outlining goals of a Green New Deal. It also came as Senator Whitehouse and seven other Democrats and Republicans re-introduced legislation to help find profitable uses for captured carbon dioxide.

The conversation touched as well on his views on corporate spending on election campaigns and lobbying, and their impact on efforts to advance or block new climate policies in Congress.

Sen. Whitehouse is a graduate of Yale University and the University of Virginia School of Law. He was Rhode Island’s director of business regulation before being nominated by President Bill Clinton to be Rhode Island’s U.S. attorney in 1994. He was elected attorney general of Rhode Island in 1998, a position he held until 2003. In 2006, he was elected to the U.S. Senate, where he is a member of the Budget Committee, the Environment and Public Works Committee, the Judiciary Committee and the Finance Committee.

He and his wife Sandra, a marine biologist and environmental advocate, live in Newport, R.I.

More Episodes


Relevant Studies

See All Work