Sen. Whitehouse takes climate push to Iowa

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I) is taking his fight against climate change to the swing state of Iowa.

His mission: to put climate change at the front of the 2016 presidential race for Iowa voters.

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Whitehouse has said if Republicans nominate a climate change denier as the party's presidential nominee, the candidate would be "finished."

Republicans don't appear to be worried though, as the onslaught continues against President Obama's climate policies. A House bill is set to hit the floor on Thursday that seeks to reign in the administration's proposed rule on carbon emissions limits for coal-fired power plants.

"I also realize that in order to advance serious climate change legislation in Congress, we need to make climate change a major topic in the 2016 presidential race," Whitehouse said in a statement on Wednesday. 

"Iowa, with its first-in-the-nation caucuses, is in a unique position to drive the debates in that race. While I myself will not be running for president — and fully expect to support Hillary Clinton if she chooses to run — I do hope that by visiting Iowa now and meeting with local activists and journalists, I can help to put the issue of climate change at the front of their minds as the 2016 race takes shape," Whitehouse added.

Whitehouse heads to Des Moines on March 17, when he will meet with state lawmakers and environmental groups.

Iowa state Sen. Rob Hogg (D) says there is "growing momentum for climate action" in his state, as climate change exacerbates more extreme weather events.

While substantial climate legislation in Congress seems far from likely with ongoing gridlock, Whitehouse says this year is different.

“For one thing, the president is backing it again, and the extreme weather is happening relentlessly around the country and world,” he told The Hill. “There has been a significant rebound in public opinion.”

Check out E2-Wire's coverage of the larger climate fight in Congress here.