Castle's Defeat Should Be A Wake Up Call

I'll admit it. Although anyone who reads my bio knows that I have worked for Democrats, I was upset when Mike Castle, a Republican, lost last night in the Delaware primary. I may not have agreed with Castle on everything but he was a representative that was always open to listening, including on issues related to clean energy and climate change. It is a real shame and a loss for civility in politics.

Today is a new day and I personally think it is time that we all wake up.

The Tea Party has been successful throughout the primary season. Their candidates have come from behind and taken out what I would have previously described as ultra conservative incumbents, with what can only be described as radical right-wing rhetoric. Recently defeated Senator, Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) received a cumulative 90% rating from the conservative, pro BIG business U.S Chamber of Commerce. Robert Bennet (R-UT), who lost to Tea Party son Michael Lee, had a 97%. By comparison, the Tea Party's beloved Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) only received an 83%. As someone who loves politics, I am mesmerized by this entire Tea Party exercise, but as someone who supports progressive policies and good government that serves the people, I am nervous.

If they can beat Castle in Delaware, Murkowski in Alaska, Bennet in Utah, to name a few, can they take over the Republican Party - and if that happens - could they take over Congress?

A takeover by the Tea Party would be devastating to environmental policies. The Tea Party would have caveman climate denying down to a science, if they actually believed in science. They claim that legislation addressing global warming is akin to raising taxes. But, the facts just don't back them up - and they completely fail to consider the costs of inaction.

The Tea Party is screaming about jobs lost to other countries when their unresearched positions on clean energy legislation have actually hurt our economy. In fact, yesterday, the Small Business Majority, Main Street Alliance, and the American Businesses for Clean Energy released a reportshowing nearly two million jobs have been lost because of Senate inaction on a climate bill. Thesame report noted that China "gained more than $11 billion in job creating clean energy investments in the two months since the U.S. Senate abandoned climate legislation." The bottom line is that the Tea Party doesn't have any idea what they are talking about when it comes to clean energy - but unfortunately, that doesn't keep them from talking.

And they have lots of environmental champs on both sides of the aisle running for cover. A recentWonk Room survey found that of the Republican candidates for the U.S. Senate, all but one (who got beat last night) dispute the scientific consensus that the U.S. must act to fight global warming pollutions. Just two short years ago, Republicans starting to use climate change as a rallying cry to bring more people into what was going to be the "big tent" of the Republican Party. What a difference a couple of years can make.

I get that folks are disappointed that Congress has failed to enact some progressive policies, like climate legislation. Last night, that all changed for me. If you think things can't get worse, try picturing Christine O'Donnell as a Senator with Jim DeMint as the Leader of the Senate.

Time to get energized. If you support environmental policies, the Tea Party must be defeated.

 

Why didn't anyone tell me that Sen. Murkowski was a climate champion?

Tuesday's Republican primary in Alaska may still be undecided, (currently incumbent Senator Lisa Murkowski trails her tea-party challenger Joe Miller by approximately 2,000 votes) but that hasn't stopped anti-environment pundits from speculating that if Murkowski loses, it will be because of her support for climate legislation. Now I follow the climate debate pretty closely, (even if it wasn't my job, as a political junkie I'd follow it nonetheless) and I just don't remember Murkowski being a climate champion. That isn't to say she's another James Inhofe in the Senate, but being open to negotiations on climate legislation does not make her the zealous supporter her opponent portrays her to be.

Fact is that Lisa Murkowski is far from an environmental champ. The League of Conservative Voters (LCV) gives her an 18% career rating, meaning that she votes the right way on less than one out of five environmental issues. And, more recently, she gave us environmentalists heartburn by leading an assault on the Clean Air Act - only one of the most successful environmental laws of all time.

Murkowski's effort to overturn the Environmental Protection Agency's scientific finding that global warming threatens our health and welfare was bad, but at least she was polite enough to claim her attack "has nothing to do with the science of global warming." That's a far cry from her opponent, Joe Miller, whose campaign website says that "The science supporting manmade climate change is inconclusive." The last thing that Alaska needs is a climate denier representing it in the Senate. Even the late Ted Stevens, never an environmental champ himself, recognized that "Alaska is harder hit by global climate change than any place in the world."

To say this primary suggests that climate change is a political non-starter in Alaska shows a selective memory. Just two short years ago, Alaska elected a real climate champ, Mark Begich, to the Senate. Climate change was a top issue during Begich's campaign, when he called for an 80% reduction in carbon pollution by 2050 and adaption strategies to help Alaska deal with the effect of climate change. Since coming to the Senate, he has continued to work to advance clean energy and climate solutions, earning an 82% rating from LCV in his first year. Last August, he introduced a package of seven bills aimed to help Alaska prepare for the changes and challenges created by a warming planet. And, in June, he voted against Murkowski's Clean Air Act attack.

This is just another case of anti-environment pundits not letting the facts get in the way of propagating their backward agenda. I'm interested to see how they'll change their tune if the absentee ballots put Murkowski in the lead. If she wins in the end, I wonder if they'll claim her victory was due to her steadfast support for drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge? Or maybe it'll be her support for offshore drilling?

The only thing I know is if she wins, they won't be crediting her position on climate.

Rand Paul Radical Rhetoric Endangers Kentucky's Working Families

The list of bedrock American laws that Rand Paul is opposed to keeps growing longer. In addition to the Civil Rights Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act, Paul has made it clear that he doesn't like the Clean Air Act either. Last weekend, Paul said that President Obama should leave Kentucky alone, especially when it comes to pollution. "You need to keep the EPA out of our affairs," he called on the president.

Paul prefers to have things "handled on a local level."But unlike Paul, I grew up in Kentucky, and I question this logic.

My elementary school sat on a cliff above an Ashland Oil refinery, and our playground was about eye level with the top of their smokestacks. When the paint on teachers' car started to peel and children started getting sick, the PTA tried to make Ashland Oil do something about it. After some fighting, the company finally installed air monitors on the kickball field - and a few months later the school closed its doors.

What sticks with me still is the way the problem was solved: As far as I can see, Ashland Oil didn't clean up its act at all. Our school shut down instead.

Federal efforts to cut pollution aren't perfect, but they are the last line of defense for places like my hometown. They literally save our lives: the Clean Air Act, for instance, has been documented to prevent hundreds of thousands of premature deaths.

Kentucky has a long dark history of environmental injustice. Amazing groups like Appalachian Voices have been fighting for cleaner water, cleaner air, and better safety rules for miners. They often find local solutions, but they also turn to federal agencies like the EPA and the Mine Safety and Health Administration when they need to.

Paul may call it "federal overreach," but I call it protecting the health of Kentuckians. 
Of course, Paul trots out the old saw that cutting pollution kills jobs. But I think Paul is more concerned about ideology than jobs, because if he really wanted to create jobs for Kentucky, he wouldn't turn his back on clean energy and climate legislation. Clean energy jobs are growing 2.5 times as fast as traditional jobs. Paul would rather shoot down federal climate solutions than bring the jobs of the 21st century to his state.

Instead, he is banking on the same old dirty industries, and he seems to think that if children get asthma because they played on a field next to a refinery, that's alright because someone had a job. I am sorry, but I can't accept the misconception that my classmates and I were the collateral damage of some polluter's payroll. Good companies that are following the law and being good neighbors provide jobs every single day.

Companies have found time and again that a clean business model is part of the recipe for a successful company. That is why 5,171 small businesses from across the country are supporting the climate bill. That is why some of the largest companies in the nation are calling on Congress to take action immediately.

The parents I know in Kentucky have no interest in working jobs that sacrifice their children's health. They want to provide for their families AND keep them safe at the same time. This isn't an either or situation. Paul seems to forget this in the midst of his fixation with "federal overreach." I too respect states rights, but states still have to be good neighbors. Local empowerment doesn't give you the right to endanger your residents' health, export pollution into nearby states, or block national solutions to fight global climate change.

If leaders like Paul forget these lessons in responsibility, then I am glad federal agencies like the EPA can step in and remind them. 

 

 

Show Up and Speak Up for Climate Change Legislation

Congress is heading back home for the August recess this week. Apparently our Senators need to rest after they failed to take up both a clean energy and climate bill and an oil spill bill.

Legislative inaction must be more tiring than I realized. 

Still, I don't view this month as a cooling off period. If anything, it's time to turn up the heat. 

Over the next few weeks, Senators will be holding "town hall meetings" in their states. Last year, these meetings came to define the health care debate. This year, they could help us reshape America's energy policy. 

If you are like me and you are still stunned that the Senate refused to pass a bill that would have created nearly 2 million new American jobs, put our nation at the forefront of the clean energy market and helped end our addiction to oil, then go to a town hall meeting and tell your lawmakers what you think. 

Tell them that it is in America's best interest to embrace clean energy now. 

And while you are at it, please tell them to block attempts by some Senators to weaken the Clean Air Act--the 40-year-old law that has saved hundreds of thousands of lives--in an effort to further delay reductions in global warming pollution. 

Some naysayers claim that voting on visionary legislation is a risky proposition when we are this close to an election. They are wrong, and history proves it. 

As I wrote in a recent blog post, 13 of the most powerful environmental laws were passed during the fall of an election year or in the lame duck sessions following elections. 

We can pass comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation this fall, but only if we demand it of our lawmakers. 

Use this August to make your voices heard. You can find your Senators' schedules by checking their Senate websites, as well as their candidate websites - Republican or Democratic.

Coal Barons Meeting Today in Hopes of Ending All Climate Debate for a Generation

-Bumped from the diaries. -Nathan

Today, a bunch of coal executives are congregating for the West Virginia Coal Association annual meeting at the luxurious Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs, WV. One of the primary things they will discuss is the formation of a 527 to take outcandidates who may support a climate change bill. As Roger Nicholson of the International Coal Groupalluded, the coal barons are psyched that they will FINALLY get their voices heard thanks to the Supreme Court's Citizen's United ruling that basically allows them to buy Congressional seats

This kind of news just makes me sick - especially since these are the guys who have scarred WV's landand abused her people. We don't need to wonder what is driving some Senators to oppose popular legislation that would, in one fell swoop, create millions of jobs, strengthen U.S. national security, defund unsavory regimes and protect our environment from earth-scorching carbon pollution. Follow the money.

Clean energy and climate legislation didn't make it through the U.S. Senate this summer, despite the overwhelming scientific and economic evidence, and despite the fact that there almost certainly were more than 50 (aka, a "majority" of) Senators willing to vote for such legislation. First and foremost among those reasons, of course, was the near-unanimous opposition by Republicans to move ahead in this area. In addition, there were several Democrats, mostly from states with coal interests, who were probable "no" votes - and the money helps paint the picture about why.

As the Natural Resources Defense Council's Pete Altman points out, "Next time someone asks why climate legislation is so difficult to move forward, point them this way. Peabody Energy and Arch Coal are prime examples of how narrow special interests can operate in stealth mode to deny climate science and to put the brakes on climate legislation." How do Peabody and Arch buy influence in Washington, DC? Very simple - money. Lots and lots of money funneled into influencing policy and policymakers. For instance:

-- "In 2008 and 2009, Arch Coal ($3.04 million) and Peabody Coal ($14.2 million) spent a combined $17.9 million in direct federal lobbying on energy, environmental and other matters."

-- "The two companies contributed $5 million each to the budget of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity ("ACCCE") in 2008, and presumably have continued to keep their memberships current with contributions in 2009 and 2010."

According to Open Secrets, in 2010 alone Arch Coal has donated $39,500 to Democratic members of Congress and $88,000 to Republican members of Congress. For its part, Peabody Coal has contributed $53,400 to Democrats and $45,400 to Republicans.

I could go on all day about the money flowing to Congress from corporations and PACs with an interest in killing clean energy and climate legislation, but I'm sure you get the picture by now. Despite the overwhelming benefits this legislation would bring to the vast majority of Americans, as well as to the U.S. economy and our national security, a few wealthy companies, driven by nothing more than greed, have spent lavishly to make sure none of this happens. And so far, they've succeeded. The question is: will we let them continue to do so? Personally, my answer is no way!

My Kids Are Losers: Commentary on the Climate Debate

The climate bill blame game has begun. When I first started writing this post about the so-called death of the climate bill, I literally pointed the finger at just about everyone, including myself. The anger poured out, and I was frank in my assessment as well as unforgiving in the motives behind this latest setback.

After I was done with my self-loathing tantrum, the kids ran in the door from camp and I was swept up in the lovely reality of my family's banter. It is summer, so the pace in our home is a bit more relaxed in the evening. We aren't quite as quick to rush through dinner, toss the kids in a bath, and then march them off to bed. Ice cream and extra cuddles are relished, and I am reminded each year at this time why I do this job.

Later, after progeny were tucked in, I went back to my draft blog post to spruce it up. I reread my rage, disappointment, and irrational ramblings and was embarrassed. And I asked myself "What good is all this blame going to do?"

At the end of the day, it is my kids - and your kids - who lose when we implode. If you think kids have a lot to say about their parents now on Dr. Phil, can you imagine what our children will say in 50 years should we fail to get our act together?

The country should be ready for this. The facts are on our side. As we witness the worst industry-caused environmental catastrophe in our history, the worst coal mining disaster in 40 years, and sweat through the hottest first 6 months of any year on record, it is clear that there's never been a more urgent time to move forward with a smart clean energy and climate plan.

Unfortunately, the politicians just aren't there. At every juncture during this debate, a minority, led by the Republican leadership and supported by a few impressionable (I might say pathetic) Democrats, has obstructed the opportunity to solve America's energy problems, preferring to leave the worst polluters and the big petro-dictators in control of our energy policy, while tax-payers are forced to pay for their messes.

Oopsy... there goes that blame again. Let's focus on what we can do next.

Hope is not lost. Of course, the closer we get to the midterm elections, the more challenging passing a bill becomes. Still, it's not impossible. In fact, the Senate has passed almost every single bedrock environmental law in the fall of an election year or in the "lame duck" session following an election. Here are just a few examples:

o Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) - 1996 Amendments: 8/6/96

o Food Quality Protection Act: 8/3/96

o Energy Policy Act of 1992: 10/24/92

o Clean Air Act of 1990: 11/15/90

o SDWA - 1986 Amendments: 6/19/86

o CERCLA (Superfund): House 9/23/80, Senate 11/24/80, POTUS 12/11/80

o Resource Conservation & Recovery Act (RCRA): 10/21/76

o Toxic Substances & Control Act (TSCA): 10/11/76

o SDWA: 12/16/74

o Clean Water Act: 10/18/72

o Establishment of the EPA: first proposed 7/9/70, established 12/2/70

o National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA): 1/1/70

o The Wilderness Act: 9/3/64

As this list demonstrates, the Senate and the environmental movement are no strangers to passing major legislation right before - or just after - an election.

I don't want to overpromise success. This is an uphill battle. But if you and I show up to every town hall, rally, spaghetti dinner, and other rituals of election year and fight for our kids... fight for our country... fight for our America... we can turn the tide. Without that kind of passion, we will all lose. That's an outcome we must try hard to avoid, on behalf of people, communities, large and small businesses - oh, and our kids, sleeping peacefully or playing happily around the country.

In the meantime, we must also protect what we already have, like a plethora of state laws and the federal Clean Air Act. I recommend reading David Doniger's blog on Switchboard today that really outlines how we can make progress with the tools we have right now.

In coming weeks and months, we must continue to push forward for a strong, clean energy and climate bill, just like we have done countless times in the past. I am done with blame. History is on our side. Are you?

Take action today for a cleaner, stronger, and more sustainable future. Join NRDC Action Fund on Facebook and Twitter and stay up-to-date on the latest environmental issues and actions you can take to help protect our planet.

 

Lessons from the "Enlightened Eight": Republicans Can Vote Pro-Environment and Not Get "Tea Partied"

On June 26, 2009, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 219-212 in favor of HR 2454, the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES). Only eight Republicans - we'll call them the "Enlightened Eight" - voted "aye." These Republicans were Mary Bono-Mack (CA-45), Mike Castle (DE-AL), John McHugh (NY-23), Frank LoBiondo (NJ-2), Leonard Lance (NJ-7), Mark Kirk (IL-10), Dave Reichert (WA-8), and Christopher Smith (NJ-4).

Republicans voting for cap and trade in the year of the Tea Party? You'd think that they'd be dumped in the harbor by now. Instead, they're all doing fine. In fact, to date, not a single one of these Republicans has been successfully primaried by the "tea party" (or otherwise). Instead, we have two - Castle and Kirk - running for U.S. Senate, one (McHugh) who was appointed Secretary of the Army by President Obama, and five others - Bono-Mack, LoBiondo, Lance, Reichert, Smith - running for reelection.

Rep. Lance actually was challenged by not one, not two, but three "Tea Party" candidates. One of Lance's opponents, David Larsen, even produced this nifty video, helpfully explaining that "Leonard Lance Loves Cap & Trade Taxes." So, did this work? Did the Tea Partiers overthrow the tyrannical, crypto-liberal Lance? Uh, no. Instead, in the end, Lance received 56% of the vote, easily moving on to November.

Meanwhile, 100 miles or so south on the Jersey Turnpike, Rep. LoBiondo faced two "Tea Party" candidates - Donna Ward and Linda Biamonte - who also attacked on the cap-and-trade issue. According to Biamonte, cap and trade "is insidious and another tax policy... a funneling of money to Goldman Sachs and Al Gore through derivatives creating a carbon bubble like the housing bubble." You'd think that Republican primary voters in the year of the Tea Party would agree with this line of attack. Yet LoBiondo won with 75% of the vote.

Last but not least in New Jersey, Christopher Smith easily turned back a Tea Party challenger - Alan Bateman - by a more than 2:1 margin. Bateman had argued that "Obama knows he can count on Smith to support the United Nations' agenda to redistribute American wealth to foreign countries through international Cap & Trade agreements and other programs that threaten our sovereignty." Apparently, Republican voters in NJ-4 didn't buy that argument.

Across the country in California's 45th District, Mary Bono-Mack won 71% of the vote over Tea Party candidate Clayton Thibodeau on June 8. This, despite Thibodeau attacking Bono-Mack as "the only Republican west of the Mississippi to vote for Cap and Trade." Thibodeau also called cap and trade "frightening," claiming that government could force you to renovate your home or meet requirements before you purchase a home. Thibodeau's scare tactics on cap-and-trade clearly didn't play in CA-45.

Finally, in Washington's 8th Congressional District, incumbent Rep. Dave Reichert has drawn a Tea Party challenger named Ernest Huber, who writes that Cap and Trade "is widely viewed as an attempt at Soviet-style dictatorship using the environmental scam of global warming/climate change... written by the communist Apollo Alliance, which was led by the communist Van Jones, Obama's green jobs czar." We'll see how this argument plays with voters in Washington's 8th Congressional District, but something tells us it's not going to go over any better than in the New Jersey or California primaries.

In sum, it appears that it's quite possible for Republicans to vote for comprehensive, clean energy and climate legislation and live (politically) to tell about it. The proof is in the primaries.

Edward James Olmos on the Definition of "Insanity"

Yesterday, the NRDC Action Fund launched a campaign featuring a powerful new ad by renowned environmental activist and celebrated actor, Edward James Olmos. In the video, which you can view here, Olmos explains what makes people - himself included - "locos" when it comes to U.S. energy and environmental policy. Now, as the Senate moves towards a possible debate on energy and climate legislation, we need to let everyone hear Olmos' message.

Hi, I'm Edward James Olmos. They say insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. I guess that's what makes Americans "locos." We keep yelling "drill baby drill" and expecting things to turn out ok. But the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico is nothing new. The oil industry has been poisoning our oceans and wilderness for decades. It's time to regain our sanity. America doesn't want more oil disasters. We need safe, clean and renewable energy now. Think about it.

Sadly, Olmos' definition of "insanity" is exactly what we've been doing for decades in this country -- maintaining policies that keep us "addicted" to fossil fuels instead of moving towards a clean, prosperous, and sustainable economy.

As we all know, dirty, outdated energy sources have caused serious harm to our economy, to our national security, and of course - as the horrible Gulf oil disaster illustrates - to our environment. In 2008 alone, the U.S. spent nearly $400 billion, about half the entire U.S. trade deficit, importing foreign oil. Even worse, much of that $400 billion went to countries (and non-state actors) that don't have our best interests at heart.

As if all that's not bad enough, our addiction to oil and other fossil fuels also has resulted in tremendous environmental devastation, ranging from melting polar ice caps to record heat waves to oil-covered pelicans and dolphins in the Gulf of Mexico.

As Edward James Olmos says, it's enough to drive us all "locos."

Fortunately, there's a better way.

If you believe, as we passionately do, that it's time to kick our addiction to the dirty fuels of the past, then please help us get that message out there. Help us air Edward James Olmos' ad on TV in states with U.S. Senators who we believe can be persuaded to vote for comprehensive, clean energy and climate legislation. If we can convince our politicians to do their jobs and to pass comprehensive, clean energy and climate legislation this year, we will be on a path to a brighter, healthier future.

Thank you for your support.

NRDC Action Fund

 

 

We failed the people who cleaned up 9/11. Will we fail the people cleaning up the Gulf?

Time-stamp updated and bumped from the diaries. -Nathan

In the aftermath of 9/11, we saw thousands of workers develop devastating respiratory conditions and other illnesses as a result of exposure to toxic dust that filled the air in the days and weeks after the twin towers fell. To this day, these peoples' plight continues to add misery to the ongoing tragedy of 9/11. What makes it even worse is that these people were assured the air was safe.   As we all know now, it wasn't.

Today, sadly, history may be repeating itself in the Gulf of Mexico.

(Thank you to Ligia Ercius-Dipaola, who posted this video on the NRDC Action Fund Facebook Page)

Amazingly, despite reports like this one, BP "continues to pretend that - just like an oil spill of this magnitude could never happen - there also could not possibly be a worker health concern."  While the potential health hazards posed by chemical dispersants and oil itself are debatable, it is clear that significant risks existed.

More text and video below the jump. It's well worth your time. -Nathan

There's more...

Oily Apologies vs. Clean Energy Momentum

It is yet another big week for clean energy. The President is having a group of bipartisan senators over to discuss how to get a clean energy bill moving that addresses the source of the gulf spill. One guy who won't be attending is Congressman Joe Barton (R-TX) after he apologized to BP CEO Tony Hayward for the "tragic" mistreatment his company has suffered. Here are Barton's now infamous words:

"I'm ashamed of what happened in the White House yesterday. I think it is a tragedy of the first proportion that a private corporation can be subjected to what I would characterize as a shakedown, in this case, a $20 billion shakedown."

That's right, forcing BP to pay for the damages it has caused is not justice, it's a "shakedown." Incredible.

In response, numerous lawmakers from both parties expressed strong disgust at his comments. Unfortunately, that irritation didn't extend to everyone as a few seemed to share Barton's perverse perspective, in which BP is the victim and the rest of us are the perpetrators. Or something.

For instance, Representative Michele Bachmann (R-MN) called the $20 billion escrow account a "redistribution of wealth fund." That's right, according to Bachmann, forcing BP to pay for the damages it caused is some sort of socialist scheme. As for the tens of thousands of Gulf Coast residents who depend on fisheries and tourism for their livelihoods? In Bachmann's world, apparently, they deserve nothing. "Let them eat cake," perhaps?

Meanwhile, Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) and his Big Oil buddies continued to block legislation aimed at eliminating the $75 million liability cap on BP for economic damages stemming from the oil disaster that it caused. Apparently, protecting the mega-profits of a giant oil company is priority #1 for Inhofe et al, even as tends of thousands of Gulf Coast residents see their lives and livelihoods crumbling around them. Priorities, priorities, I guess.

Look, I am all for open markets and free enterprise. But, in addition to the chance to make enormous profits, doesn't doing business in a responsible manner also entail owning up to your obligations, not to mention your egregious mistakes? I mean, if I run up a bill on my credit card, I have to pay it. If I walk into a store and start smashing up the merchandise, the "Pottery Barn rule" is highly likely to kick in - "you break it, you buy it." In fact, I would go so far as to call this a basic principle of doing business. In Senator Barton's world, in contrast, the "Pottery Barn rule" only applies to the "small people," not to multibillion-dollar corporations like BP.

In the face of this heart-breaking and rage-inducing catastrophe, we don't need business-as-usual from Big Oil Barton and Company. Instead, we need something bold and transformational. We need comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation that will break our addiction to oil, transform our economy, enhance our national security, and guarantee that oil disasters like this one never happen again.

Fortunately, even as a few lawmakers are busy apologizing to BP, others are hard at work trying to put America on a safer, cleaner path. Last week, Democratic senators held a caucus meeting on clean energy and climate legislation, and tomorrow they will hold another one. President Obama's get-together is Thursday. These gatherings are important, as they will help determine the Senate's path forward.

I am hoping that the meetings don't yield anymore ridiculous quotes a la Barton or Bachmann. My fingers will be crossed that after all the lawmakers have had a chance to be heard, they will move beyond rhetoric and lay out their plans for passing comprehensive, clean energy and climate legislation this summer. Because action is what we need now from our elected representatives. If they fail to take that action, they will owe us all an apology.

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