What are Mark Warner and Jim Webb Waiting for

In the next few weeks, the Kerry-Lieberman-Graham clean energy bill will come up for consideration on the Senate floor. While we do not yet know what is in and what is out of the bill, the NRDC Action fund has begun a campaign to ensure that Senators hear from their constituents on this vitally important legislation.

What we are doing is drawing the focus on Senators who will play a key role in the drive to pass the bill. We began last week with Senator Scott Brown from Massachusetts. If you live in Massachusetts, it is not too late to join in this effort. Please sign our letter and post a note of support for clean energy legislation on Senator Brown's Facebook Wall. If you do not live in Massachusetts, and are wondering if your Senator could use a little encouragement, click here and you can post something on their Facebook wall, or call their office. 

This week, as we hope Scott Brown is hearing from folks in Massachusetts loud and clear, we also turn our attention to Virgina, and its two Senators, Mark Warner and Jim Webb. Each of these men is well-poised to play a critical role in getting this bill passed, and they should each do everything they can to make that happen.

Both men arrived in DC with proven records of success in their respective fields. Other lawmakers are courting their votes and looking to them for guidance. These Senators carry a lot of weight and because of this, they can be key players in passing clean energy legislation.

Both men have stated that they believe America should reduce its global warming pollution. Now we have to translate that belief into action.

Senator Webb has possibly the best understanding of America's national security needs in the Senate. Webb served as a marine in Vietnam and as Secretary of the Navy. He has also been an outspoken advocate for our veterans and has shown himself to be an effective negotiator, and powerful leader in the Senate.

When the Quadrinnel Defense Review included climate change as a significant threat to U.S. National Security, Senator Webb was already working on a proposal with Senator Alexander (R-TN).

Unfortunately, he has been a strong defender of fossil fuels and outdated energy technologies. We need to get him into the clean energy camp.

Senator Warner seems to be moving our way. He recently co-led an effort to show support for comprehensive climate and energy legislation. Along with Senator Tom Udall (D-NM), he got 22 senators to sign on to a letter to Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) calling on him to bring a bill to the floor.

Senator Warner is a businessman. After he helped found cell phone giant Nextel, he became a highly respected governor of Virginia. He turned deficits to surpluses during a recession by working with members from both parties. As a result he was recognized as having run the best managed state in the country.

The world is not waiting for the U.S. to get moving on clean energy technologies, and the longer we wait, the more competing nations are able to get a head start. China's investment in clean tech R&D is nearly double that of the U.S. As a result, much of the job creation and economic growth that come with clean energy innovation are already happening in China.

Surely Mark Warner will understand the business importance of making progress on clean energy and not ceding an even larger advantage to overseas interests. Surely Mark Warner gets that borrowing billions from China to buy oil from the Middle East is not smart financially.

Senator Warner understands the urgent need for this legislation in more than just business terms. In September of 2009, Senator Warner said:

"The idea that we're going to, for one more year, delay trying to take on this critically important issue around energy, would be a competitive, financial, and potentially environmental disaster."

But perhaps the most important reason Senators Warner and Webb should be leaders on this issue, is that passing a clean energy bill now would be good for the people of Virginia. Virginia is one of the top recipients of federal Research and Development funding, the state's economy would likely get a big boost from the passage of clean energy legislation. Because of its proud tradition of producing exceptional men and women in uniform, Virginia has felt the strain from the extended and repeat deployments of America's military to fight enemies who benefit from our dependence on oil. Passing a clean energy bill will contribute to a vibrant economy for Virginia, and will make it easier for our military, including its proud members from Virginia to defend our nation.

So lets get to work telling Senators Mark Warner and Jim Webb that we want them to step up at lead on passing the clean energy bill:

1. Sign the letter here.

2. Post a note of support for clean energy on their Facebook Walls: Warner Webb

3. Ask your friends to do the same by posting this to your Facebook, and Twitter.

Thanks for your help, and stay tuned as we encourage more Senators to stand up and lead us to the robust economy, increased national security, and national prosperity that will come with a clean energy future.

Heather Taylor-Miesle is the director of the NRDC Action Fund. Become a fan on Facebook or Twitter.

Tags: Climate change, Heather Taylor-Miesle, Jim Webb, NRDC Action Fund, Clean Energy, mark warner, Virginia (all tags)

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