Sen. Begich: 'I'm not afraid to talk about climate change'

Sen. Mark BegichMark Peter BegichPerez creates advisory team for DNC transition The future of the Arctic 2016’s battle for the Senate: A shifting map MORE (D-Alaska) won't stop talking about climate change despite his tough reelection race this year.

"I’m not afraid to talk about climate change,” Begich said in an interview with Alaska's KCAW radio station that was released Sunday evening. “I live in a state that I see it, whenever I travel."

He added: "Doesn’t matter if it’s western Alaska or down to Southeast where acidification is affecting our fisheries, or you go up the interior and the permafrost is melting, impacting infrastructure: I see it. Even though we have a strong, important part of our economy, oil and gas, it doesn’t mean that we only are one side of the equation.”

While Begich has backed increased oil and gas production in Alaska and the Keystone XL oil pipeline, he also believes in climate change.

“The national debate on this is, ‘If you’re for oil and gas you’re over here. If you’re for renewable energy you’re over here,' " Begich said. “In reality, in Alaska, we’ve figured out how to meld these things the right way, and I think that’s the goal that we have to have on a national level.”

Begich added that Alaska is ready to meet the targets set by the Environmental Protection Agency under President Obama's new carbon pollution standards, which mandate states reduce emissions from existing power plant 30 percent by 2030.

Begich's reelection bid is one out of six races that will be critical in determining whether Democrats maintain control of the Senate.