Our Senators, the Climate Bill, and Tying Your Shoes with One Hand

Last Thursday, the Senate voted 53 to 47 to defeat the Murkowski resolution that would have undermined the EPA's ability to reduce global warming pollution. The vote provides a useful guide to how senators might act on a climate vote.

Of course, it is not a clear-cut comparison because some people voted against the flawed resolution to make a point about process or simply to support the science. It is significant to note that we have 10 more votes in favor of reducing carbon emissions than we did the last time climate change was discussed on the Senate floor two years ago.

But here is what I find most interesting about last week's vote: the number of Senators who have all publicly exclaimed that global warming is a pressing problem but who voted to block the EPA from dealing with it. Are they sitting on an "election year fence" or are the deep pockets of Big Oil & Coal companies propping up their campaign contribution fences? The question must be asked - Why do these senators benefit from burning caveman fuels?

Senator Rockefeller, for instance, said: "I am not here to deny or bicker fruitlessly about the science... In fact, I would suggest that I think the science is correct. Greenhouse gas emissions are not healthy for the Earth or her people, and we must take significant action to reduce them. We must develop and deploy clean energy, period."

And yet the man voted to hamstring the EPA. Indeed, Senator Rockefeller intends to push his own bill that would put the EPA's effort to confront global warming on hold--giving West Virginia's coal industry a free pass for two more years.

Senator Chambliss from Georgia, meanwhile, said, "I know the climate is changing." And Senator Hutchison from Texas declared: "As a solution to climate change, we need to work together to promote the use of clean and renewable sources of energy....It is important that we work together. We are the elected representatives of the people."

And yet both of them voted against one of our main tools for combating global warming pollution: the EPA.

I'm sorry, but if you really believe this is a crisis, why wouldn't you want to fight it with every weapon available? Why wouldn't you deploy the muscle of both Congress AND the federal government?

While I was listening to last week's debate, I couldn't help but be reminded of teaching my three-year-old how to tie her shoes. I showed her how to do it with two hands, of course. Why on earth would I suggest she do it with one?

Yet that is what these Senators seem to be proposing. Senator Collins from Maine said:
"I believe global climate change and the development of alternatives to fossil fuels are significant and urgent priorities for our country."

Why would she want us to fight global warming with one hand tied behind our back?

On the one hand, these statements are good news - despite the yelping of Inhofe and Hatch, the Senate is not a bastion of climate deniers. There's even a consensus that something must be done. The bad news is they're still not doing it. What is it that these Senators actually would support that isn't just some vague theory?



Some House Republicans Have Gone Off the Deep End: Plan to Ask for Deepwater Drilling to Resume

In a few hours, the House Republicans will hold a press conference at the Capitol to call for an END TO THE MORATORIUM on deepwater drilling. 


Do they know that the oil from the Deepwater Horizon is still spewing? 

Do they know that no one seems to know how to make it stop?

In the past, lots of folks bought the lies that deepwater drilling was safe but now we have evidence that not only does it cost lives, it can devastate economies and destroy entire ecosystems.  We know that if there is an accident, that oil companies can only offer a “Doh!” and half-hearted assurances that they will make things right.  This is a different day.

So, how in the world is it possible that these Members of Congress believe that we should start deepwater drilling again? We still don't know exactly what caused the spill, how to prevent it from happening again, or even how to be prepared if one happens again.

It is disrespectful to those in the gulf.  It is disrespectful to those with a brain.

Here is the list of people participating in today’s press conference.  Please reach out to them… or maybe suggest that they see a doctor to have their head examined.

House Republicans will hold a news conference to call for an end to the moratorium on new deepwater drilling.

Contact: Jamie Hennigan at 202-225-2777 Jamie.Hennigan@mail.house.gov

Date:  Today, Tuesday, June 15, 2pm ET

Place:  House Triangle, Capitol Building

Speakers; Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas

Rep. Charles Boustany Jr., R-La.

Rep. Gregg Harper, R-Miss.

Rep. Robert B. Aderholt, R-Ala.

Rep. Joe L. Barton, R-Texas

Rep. Michael C. Burgess, R-Texas

Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas

Rep. K. Michael Conaway, R-Texas

Rep. John Culberson, R-Texas

Rep. Ralph M. Hall, R-Texas

Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas

Rep. Randy Neugebauer, R-Texas

Rep. Pete Olson, R-Texas

Rep. Rodney Alexander, R-La.

Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-La.

Rep. John Fleming, R-La.

Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La.




Who is the Worst Offender: The Climate Denier or The Complacent Staller?

This is a pivotal week in the clean energy debate. The Senate will vote on Murkowski’s short-sighted resolution to take away the EPA’s authority to regulate pollution.  As we head into this critical time, it’s not the Inhofe-cloned climate deniers who trouble me - it’s the knowing bystanders who are keeping me up at night. 

Before I start this rant, let me just state for the record that I still think deniers are about as accurate as my three year old is when she is trying to describe quantum physics at her make-believe tea parties (although they are wholly less adorable). The vast majority of these deniers resist climate legislation because they really don’t believe global warming is a problem – yes their heads are in the sand. But for the purposes of the Murkowski resolution, their vote is already lost. 

Lately I am even more frustrated with Senators who recognize that climate change is an urgent challenge, but who sit idly by on the sidelines doing nothing. For me, they raise the fundamental question – Who is worse - those that deny the existence of climate change or those that believe in the upcoming catastrophe and continue to lack focus or alarm? 

Take Senator Schumer for example. He has stated that he thinks the Senate should confront the impacts of climate change. Yet just this week, when leaders should be pushing hard for climate action, Schumer’s support has been tepid at best. On Morning Joe, he showered Senator Bingaman’s energy-only bill with praise, then said, “What do you do about climate change? Kerry has a proposal that has pretty broad support…He is going to get a chance to offer that opinion, and we will see if it has the votes.”  

We are looking for more from our Leaders than a passive wait and see attitude. Senator Schumer is the third ranking Democrat, and that means he needs to do more than wait around to cast a vote.  It’s time for real leadership, which means rolling up his sleeves and making sure a bill passes.  We need him in the trenches.  In fairness, the Senator walked himself back a bit after people threw a fit over his Morning Joe ambivalence.  He has pledged to meet with Senator Kerry on a path forward but until he demands action and puts him ample political muscle behind that call, I am skeptical. 

Exhibit #2 is Senator Rockefeller. As a Senator from West Virginia, he wants the federal government to do a better job of regulating mine safety, especially after the horrifying disaster at the Massey coalmine.  I applaud him for that stance, but here is where I get confused.  When it comes to global warming--something Rockefeller says, “America must address”--he suddenly gets allergic to federal regulation. He wants the Senate to block the EPA from reducing global warming pollution until Congress gets it’s act together. The federal government can and should be involved – today. Just as federal regulation needs to be strengthened to deal with mine safety, we need to let the regulators use the tools on the books begin addressing greenhouse gases.     

And finally, the fence sitters continue to be the best example of willful negligence.  The Senate is going to consider a resolution this week from Senator Murkowski to put the breaks on EPA’s efforts to address greenhouse gases.  There is a small group of Senators - like Collins, Snowe, Pryor, Webb, and Scott Brown - who say they want to reduce global warming pollution but may vote for Murkowski’s resolution to overturn the EPA’s authority to do so. If you think carbon emissions are dangerous, wouldn’t you want to use every weapon at your disposal to fight it? 

When I see Senators backpedalling, downplaying and side stepping climate action, I want to ask them: what are you waiting for? When is there going to be a better time to transition to clean energy? America is watching the cost of failed energy policies literally washing up on our shores. Our nation is desperately in need of the jobs and economic growth that a clean energy economy can provide. Congress has the most pro-clean energy members we are likely to get for several years.  

I think I just answered my own question – which is worse, a climate-denier or a knowledgeable staller…. I vote that someone who fails to act when they know the stakes is much worse.



Five Reasons Clean Energy Trumps Tea Party Slogans

Sometimes I think America is the proverbial child-star-gone-bad of nations: we have a crippling addiction, but we still won't go to rehab.

We are hooked on burning dirty fossil fuels like cavemen, and no matter how many times we hit rock bottom -- deadly coal mining accidents, the uncontrolled oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico and American soldiers risking their lives overseas -- we won't embrace the safer, smarter, cleaner path of renewable energy.

Change shouldn't be this hard.

That is the message behind a new ad campaign launched by NRDC's Action Fund this week. The ad urges senators from both sides of the aisle to put America back in control of our energy future.

Americans want change: a recent poll found that seven in ten Americans think clean energy legislation must be fast-tracked in the wake of the catastrophic Gulf oil spill.

Yet our elected officials haven't delivered the clean energy that voters want. Too many lawmakers fear that if they vote for a clean energy future, they will fall prey to populist mood swings come November. But they are mistaken and here is why:

1. Support for clean energy and climate action is not a flash in the pan. President Obama made clean energy one of the three planks of his platform. His energy policies have been vetted, reviewed and fleshed out through the longest presidential campaign in history and into his administration.

And all the while, clean energy has remained popular with American voters. So much so that Tea Party candidates now talk about it themselves. Most of their claims are bogus, but it is revealing that they haven't left clean energy on the cutting room floor.

2. Tea Party candidates are like the streaker at a football game. They get a lot of attention for their bold, rebellious positions, but after you get a closer look, you want to turn your head away. Their catchphrases simply don't hold up to scrutiny, never mind a 24-hour news cycle.

Rand Paul sounded good in his 30-second campaign spots, for instance, but just days after he won the primary, he started saying business owners should be allowed to kick people of color out of their establishments. After seeing Paul on The Rachel Maddow Show or Sarah Palin being interviewed by Katie Couric, viewers start to realize that Tea Party slogans don't always make for sound governing policy.

3. The Tea Party is today's rebranding of conservative Republican voters. It baffles me that people talk about the Tea Party as if it were something new, when in fact it is just the latest packaging of the radical right.
We have seen this before and we know how it ends: people who identify with the radical group of the day are people who already vote and who will continue to vote for the most conservative candidate. This is not a new batch of voters up for grabs, and therefore, there is no point in pandering to them.

4. Angry voters may scream the loudest, but that doesn't make them powerful. It is human nature to pay attention to the loudest person in the room, but that doesn't mean you have to like them. The official Tea Party page on Facebook has only 200,000 fans. The "Can this poodle wearing a tinfoil hat get more fans than Glenn Beck" Facebook page has 280,453 fans.

Right now, every politico is trying to figure out how to win in November, and some are getting distracted by the noise of the radical right. The truth is that these people have been angry for a long time and they will be angry long after lawmakers leave Congress. It is how they live their lives. And while they have extra visibility right now, it looks like most elections will be decided on issues particular to each state, not Tea Party anger.

5. People will vote for lawmakers who create jobs, growth and security. In the end, winning elections and governing the nation is about making people's lives better. Passing clean energy and climate legislation will do that. It could generate nearly 2 million jobs, put America at the forefront of the global clean energy marketplace, strengthen national security and reduce dangerous pollution.

Now is not the time to be bullied. It is the time for lawmakers to stand up and put America on a path to a cleaner, better future. This kind of change isn't hard at all.

Obama or Bust: We Need Leadership from the Top

If you look at any of the 24X7 news shows or even the Today Show, you will see everyone proclaiming that there is an anti-incumbent mood spreading across America. There is good reason to say that as evidenced by the size of Tea Party rallies and even a few of the races last Tuesday. But, my personal opinion is that this is less about an anti-incumbent mood and more about a "pro-change" disposition. Voters are angry about the current state of blame and stall politics. They expect elected officials to keep their promises - and that extends to clean energy and climate legislation.

Even though clean energy and climate issues are rarely at the heart of the anti-incumbency rhetoric, the frustration with all things Beltway could block comprehensive energy legislation this year.

President Obama's leadership is the only force that can change that.

You see, when the electorate turns anti-Washington, Congressmen freeze up. They get scared of taking bold steps and they start saying "no" to everything.

Even on a good day, the odds of passing any bill in Congress--no matter the issue--starts at about 5 percent. Smart gamblers always bet the no vote in Congress.

But being a naysayer becomes even more attractive to politicians when they think their job is at risk. Voting "no" on a big, transformative bill allows them to give the illusion that they are "playing it safe" and to keep the bull's-eye off their back for potential mid-term popularity contests.

"No" may be an easy decision for politicians, but it is the wrong choice for the American people.

We need to say yes to a clean energy and climate bill that will generate nearly 2 million jobs, put our nation at the forefront of one of the biggest markets of the 21st century, end our reliance on oil, and reduce dangerous pollution. Yet so many lawmakers are in a panic over elections that they can't see these benefits.

They need to snap out of it. In a movie, this is the moment when someone would come along and slap the panicking person in the face. In politics, that slap is leadership.

President Obama must take charge of clean energy and climate legislation. The only major bills that pass through Congress are the ones with White House support. We are fortunate that President Obama backs climate action, but given this anti-incumbent mood, we need him not just to support it; we need him to lead it.

What would that look like? We saw it in the heath care debate. President Obama went into campaign mode and stumped on that bill every single day. He called in political chits. He got people in the same room to negotiate. He dragged it over the finish line because he went farther than asking for change. He demanded it.

That is what we need him to do for a clean energy and climate bill. Because let's be frank: either we see some leadership or we call it a day.

If we don't pass the bill this year, we won't get another chance for years. Dave Robert's painted the grim prospects for national climate action given the likely outcomes of future election cycles in his Grist blog this week. It doesn't look good for another eight years - at least.

We need to get America moving right now toward a clean energy future, and we need President Obama to lead the way.

This week, Robert Redford appeared in a television ad for the NRDC that has already been written about in the Washington Post and New York Times. Interestingly, he didn't call on Congress to take clean energy and climate action. He called on President Obama.

The president is the one with the bully pulpit. Tell him to use it on behalf of clean energy and climate solutions. Securing our future depends on it.

National Tragedy Demands Real Response

One of my first real memories of tragedy was when the space shuttle Challenger exploded. My entire school was cheering on teacher Christa McAuliffe, and when the shuttle blew up in midair, I remember standing with my sobbing classmates, trying to make sense of what we had witnessed.

As an adult, I felt a similar connection the day after September 11. In the midst of a national crisis, Congressmen from both parties and both chambers stood on the Capitol stairs and sang "God Bless America." I will never forget that moment and the sense of common cause it inspired in all who heard it.

Shared national experiences are pretty powerful things. Although one can't really compare a terrorist attack on our nation to a mechanical failure that causes catastrophic loss, the experience of communal mourning is still similar...denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. But what this list does not mention is "resolve". No one can deny that regardless the nature of the event, when this nation marches to the same drummer, it creates a powerful beat that can move mountains.

Yet I didn't feel that sense of common cause last month when the Deepwater Horizon exploded and killed 11 people. I didn't feel it when the oil erupted like a volcano, gushing endlessly into the Gulf of Mexico. And I still don't feel it even as the local tourism industry shuts down, fisheries are closed, water is endangered and the ecosystem is in peril.

Plenty of people are concerned about the Gulf, but it hasn't permeated the national mood yet. In fact, instead of honoring the loss of life and examining the ongoing risk, some lawmakers seem to want us to forget all about this tragedy.

House Republicans have responded to the situation in the Gulf by talking about gas prices and calling for expanded offshore oil drilling. The Energy Rapid Response team they have assembled doesn't even include a member from the Gulf Coast--only landlocked lawmakers who aren't affected by the pain of oil spills.

It must be easy to whine about paying more at the pump when your constituents aren't dealing with cleaning up an oil slick that is spreading by the day.

In all fairness to the droning, disconnected Energy Rapid Response team, we do have some elected officials actually from the area who are choosing to side with the oil companies instead of their constituents.

Senator Mary Landrieu, also known as the oil industry's PR director, is begging people not to rush to judgment even as her state's wildlife refuges are coated with oil and Louisiana's economy is threatened. She claims to be on the side of the mom and pop drillers. Wow. If a big oil company like BP is having a tough time cleaning up their massive, historical mess, can you image what would happen if this kind of explosion happened to a small driller?

If there is one Member of Congress that gives me some hope it is West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd, who has met tragedy with the courage to stand up to negligent, dirty energy companies. West Virginia was the site of the April 5, 2010 collapse at the Upper Big Branch coal mine that killed 29 people and injured 2 others.

Senator Byrd took time to reflect on the tragedy. Instead of being an apologist for Massey Coal Company, he is representing the best interests of his constituents by demanding that dirty energy is made to pay for their mess and that West Virginians reexamine the role of the coal industry in their state.

Dirty energy has consequences. We see that very clearing in the Gulf and in West Virginia. We see how we pay the price for dirty oil and coal in losses: the loss of life, the loss of fishing and tourism jobs, the loss of economic growth and the loss of ecosystems that sustain us.

Loss is what happens when you make a pact with dirty energy. And even though we may not necessarily have a national drum beat quite yet, Americans are beginning to recognize that we can break this dangerous pact. Seven in ten say that it's time to break our dangerous addiction to oil by fast-tracking clean energy legislation and by increasing our use of sustainable and renewable power and fuels. We can shift to cleaner technologies--things like fuel-efficient cars and renewable power--that will slash our reliance on oil and coal.

I would much rather see Americans rally around the promise of clean energy than yet another fossil fuel disaster. Wouldn't you?

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


This country and the planet cannot afford to delay climate and clean energy legislation. It is that simple. Every day Washington politics puts our clean energy future on hold our economy gets weaker, our enemies get stronger, and the planet gets more polluted. It has been almost a year since the House approved comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation to create jobs, cut our oil imports in half and reduce the carbon pollution that threatens us all, and we are still waiting for the Senate to act. The time is now for comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation that jump-starts our economy, strengthens national security, and leads to a healthier planet.

The petitions, rallies, e-mails and letters from around the country are sending a loud and clear message of broad support. The NRDC Action Fund has worked tirelessly to urge the Senate to stand up for a strong clean energy and climate bill. And just last week Capitol Hill saw a display of this commitment as "tens of thousands...gathered on the National Mall for a concert and rally" not only to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Earth Day but to call "for real leadership in the Senate".

The President has also been crystal clear in his call to take action for passing "comprehensive clean energy and climate bill 'that will safeguard our planet, and spur innovation and help us to compete in the 21st Century."

Senators Kerry, Graham, and Lieberman have dedicated months to pulling together a Senate bill. As Representative Ed Markey asserts, "Right now we've got the best chance [to pass the legislation] in a generation...and it would just be a shame to lose it". A delay in climate legislation would be more than just a shame, but, in the words of Thomas Freidman, "a disaster".

Of course, Mr. Freidman is giving voice to the concerns of many. Not passing comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation now means we are not only racing toward a potential tipping point ecologically, but we are postponing economic growth and threatening national security.

It has been almost two decades since 1,600 senior scientists from 70 countries signed thestatement warning "all humanity of what lies ahead. A great change in our stewardship of the earth and the life on it, is required, if vast human misery is to be avoided and our global home on this planet is not to be irretrievably mutilated."

A comprehensive clean energy policy will "boost growth, create 2.8 million jobs, slash pollution" and drastically cut our dependence on foreign oil.

The U.S. Department of Defense declared "climate change a national security threat", that will "contribute to food and water scarcity, will increase the spread of disease, and may spur or exacerbate mass migration."

Our inaction also raises doubt in the rest of the world that America is still able to provide leadership on issues of global concern. We are already getting left behind as we continue to sit on the sidelines while "China is...leading the world...in wind production and...solar production." This country was not built on the principle of inaction. Our founders were leaders who risked everything to make this country great.

The Senate has the historic opportunity to flip the switch and get onto a path to a prosperous and sustainable future. The truth is, "This generation of politicians is the last generation who have it in their power to secure the future of our planet, to safeguard the health and livelihoods of millions of people and the habitats that sustain their lives. History will not forgive them if they fail to act."

So we need members from all parties, the officials elected to lead this country, to sit down now and get this bill back on track - for us and the generations to come.

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

Not Again: The Fringe Right Takes Aim At Climate Change Before Seeing the Bill

Today we learn that the far-right have launched a new operation to attack a yet-to-be- released climate change bill. According to Roll Call:

The effort, which Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence (Ind.) is spearheading, is designed to coincide with Senate introduction of a climate change proposal next week and the upcoming annual summer spike in gas prices that inevitably results in a message war on Capitol Hill over which party is to blame for higher prices at the pump.

Wow. Really? An entire destructive operation dubbed "American Energy Solutions Group" to take down a bill no one has seen? What kind of "solution" is that?

On April 26, a bipartisan group of forward-leaning Senators -John Kerry, D-Mass., Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Joe Lieberman, I-Ct., - will roll out comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation. The bill is still under wraps, but done right, a climate and energy bill can put Americans back to work, reduce our dependence on foreign oil and create a healthier future for us all. The three Senators deserve enormous credit for their work to craft a bill, but instead the far right is trying to kill their work before it even sees the light of day.

We need a bill that will create two million good-paying jobs for American workers, and position American businesses for decades of success in the growing global clean energy marketplace. A successful bill would cut our oil imports in half and strike a blow against climate change, the most pressing environmental challenge of our time. We will see if this bill gets there on Monday. Those gearing up to bring it down should read it along with the rest of us.

I went to elementary school in Kentucky. Like children from across the country, I learned a lot about the history there. One thing that has stuck with me is their state motto, "United We Stand, Divided We Fall."

The state of American politics seems to be in a bit of a free fall and this latest move by extremests - or as the kids these days like to say "haters" - before even seeing a bill just underscores what a ridiculous free fall we are in. When will political points lose out to meaningful policy that addresses a real need?

Even if you don't believe in climate change, there are a million reasons to put our country on a clean energy path.

You would think that a crowd called the "American Energy Solutions Group" would get that. The only "solution" they seem to be looking for is gridlock. I hope that they realize the damage that their selfish and short-sighted propaganda is doing to our country. 
United we stand, divided we fall.

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

Sarah Palin's Right: You Should Run on Energy

Over the past week, Sarah Palin encouraged Tea-Party candidates to make energy issues a central part of their campaigns. "There’s nothing stopping us from achieving energy independence that a good old national election can’t fix," she said.

Palin’s full of surprises, but this piece of campaign advice caught me off-guard. After all, a recent poll found that energy is the issue that inspires the most faith in Democratic lawmakers. Since President Obama made clean energy a central part of their campaign in 2008, this poll suggests that this is what the majority of people want. Therefore, Democrats AND Republicans should all be running on clean energy.

Tea-partiers are always more than welcome to pontificate &peddle" more of the same", blathering about dirty, old energy technologies that date back to the 19th century.

When in fact it will be bold Republicans and smart Democrats that support clean, innovative, job generating "energy ideas" that will truly get a lift by campaigning on energy.

Eight years of "Drill, baby, Drill," during the Bush administration got us exactly where we are now – in trouble and dependent on foreign oil. But that isn’t what the American voters want now. American voters want progress and they want jobs. The clean energy plan at the center of the economic package, which just approved a $100 million investment in smart grid technology, will lead to 30,000 Americans getting new job training.

These are the energy policies that Americans will have the most faith in. And that’s why I encourage the undecided Senators out there–those lawmakers and candidates from both parties who have been quiet about clean energy and climate legislation–to step forward and declare their support for a clean energy future for America and show some leadership.

Rather than being scared about what the Tea Party will say in response, lawmakers should be listening to American voters. People want to see progress right now, not more Congressional gridlock.

Comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation is primed for passing. It has already passed in the House. A new Senate bill is expected to become public in the coming days and will have tri-partisan support in the Senate thanks to Senators Kerry (D), Graham (R), and Lieberman (I). After the bill is unveiled, negotiating will begin in earnest. Forward movement is further propelled by the White House backing, thanks to President Obama’s repeated requests for a bill to be delivered to his desk. And it has already gone through numerous hearings and been thoroughly debated on the Hill.

Senators should pass a clean energy and climate bill this summer and head into the final campaign push with a real success in hand–an action plan to deliver on the three of the most pressing issues for American voters right now:

• Jobs: The clean energy and climate bill that passed the House last just is projected to create nearly 2 million jobs. In fact, for every $1 million invested in clean energy, we can create 3 to 4 times as many jobs as if we spent the same amount on fossil fuels.

• The Economy: There is a consensus among economists that America can prevent the worst impacts of climate change without hurting the economy. As Paul Krugman explained recently, the House bill would leave the American economy between 1.1 percent and 3.4 percent smaller in 2050 than it would be otherwise.

• National Security: This week, the U.S. Military http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2010/apr/11/peak-oil-production-supply that oil would be in dangerously short supply in the next few years, exacerbating political tensions and around the world. In contrast, Think Progress found that clean energy and climate legislation would reduce Iran’s petrodollar receipts by $1.8 trillion through 2050. That’s an average of $100 million per day that doesn’t fall into the hands of a regime that sponsors extremist groups around the world!

These are the kind of real numbers that Americans are looking for. That’s why those up for reelection this fall should run on a positive, forward-looking energy policy instead of the 19th century leftover rhetoric that Palin is dishing out.

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

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.


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