Thursday, July 22, 2010

Congress, Obama Put Climate Bill on Back Burner

In a potentially fatal blow to comprehensive climate and clean energy legislation, the Democratic leadership in the Senate has abandoned a major climate bill in favor of scaled back legislation because there are not enough votes.

This news is incredibly disappointing to those who believed President Obama and the Democrats in Congress would push a renewable energy and climate change bill with the same vigor and urgency that they did for the Recovery Act, Health Care Reform and Wall Street Reform.

If the Democrats wait until the next Congress to push a comprehensive climate bill, it will be much harder because the Republicans are expected to at least grab a few more seats if not more. Obama and the Senate leadership had their chance but chose to use all their energy on Health Care and Financial Reform. What a pity. A clean energy policy for America is urgent and necessary for a healthy economy and a healthy environment.

Why isn't Obama summoning the Republican and Democratic leadership to the White House like he did for the Health Care Reform bill? The fact that Obama is not championing clean energy legislation with the same sense of urgency that he did for Health Care Reform is a failure of leadership and is one of the most disappointing developments so far in Obama's presidency. He could have gotten the Republicans on board easier than he did with Health Care Reform because this is about America staying competitive with countries like China and Germany that have poured massive amounts of money into clean energy research and development and production.

A comprehensive climate and clean energy bill should have been on equal footing with Health Care Reform and Financial Reform. This bill would have been the number one job creator and perhaps within a few years we could have had wind farms and tidal power farms off the coast of Louisiana in addition to oil.

We are not only talking about keeping America competitive in the global marketplace by creating clean energy manufacturing jobs, but more importantly fighting rapid climate change so there is a future for our children and grandchildren. Americans consume more energy per capita than any other country and emit more carbon into the atmosphere than any other country so we have a special responsibility to protect the planet for future generations.

After today's devastating news, I'm not so sure this country has the ability anymore to do big things. While the Gulf Coast soaks in oil and we keep buying gas-guzzling SUVs and consuming like there is no tomorrow, we will continue to hemorrhage clean energy jobs to China and Europe.

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