Senate Majority Leader expects to pass bipartisan energy and climate bill this spring: It “may be the most important policy we will ever pass.”

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"Senate Majority Leader expects to pass bipartisan energy and climate bill this spring: It “may be the most important policy we will ever pass.”"

Reid: “Finally – and perhaps most importantly – Congress needs to send the market a clear signal on the costs of global warming pollution to drive far greater investments into geothermal and every other form of renewable energy and energy efficiency.”

I keep telling everyone that it’s coming — see “Memo to swing Senators: You are going to vote on a bipartisan, economy-wide climate and clean energy jobs bill this spring. Get over it.

But if folks don’t believe every word and action from the President (see “Coming to Copenhagen commits Obama to getting the bipartisan climate and clean energy bill passed“), perhaps they’ll believe the Senate majority leader in his must-read speech to a Geothermal Energy Association-sponsored conference today (prepared text here):

As you know, the House has passed a comprehensive clean energy and climate bill that does many of these things. I support addressing each of these issues in the Senate’s version, and I expect that to happen this spring.

We have a lot on our plate. We have to finish reforming health insurance and Wall Street, and also must help bring Americans out of unemployment. But we are not so busy that we can’t find the time to address comprehensive energy and climate legislation.

Time for Senators to stop grousing about actually having to cast a few votes to address the nation’s major, long-term problems for the first time in decades and time to start figuring out what they want to see in this bipartisan bill.

Reid praised the bipartisan group working to develop the climate and clean energy jobs bill, while slamming the tactics of Lisa “fiddle while Nome burns” Murkowski:

Senators Kerry, Graham and Lieberman have taken a lead in trying to craft a framework that would get more than 60 votes. We will need at least that many for two reasons: One, because any bill that seeks to rein in global warming pollution will be fought very hard by the same companies that profit most heavily from polluting. And two, because the rules of the Senate make it easy for a determined minority to stand in the way of all the good ideas you’re hearing at this forum.

For example, next week Senator Murkowski of Alaska may offer an amendment – to a completely unrelated bill, it should be noted – that would stop the EPA from protecting Americans from global warming pollution. It’s a highly political move, and a highly hazardous one to our health and the environment.

If this Senator succeeds, it could keep Congress from working constructively in a bipartisan manner to pass clean energy legislation this year. That’s why I will work hard to defeat this misguided amendment. I hope that doesn’t come to that.

Ouch!

It would be an embarrassment for the United States to fall any further behind other countries, competitors of ours in the global economy whose governments strongly support their own renewable energy companies. America finds itself today staring up at countries like China that are moving far ahead of us in developing a clean energy economy. As others accelerate ahead of us, the choice we face is whether we will lead or lag. I say: Let’s lead….

And though turning around the effects of years of recklessness might be the most difficult issue we tackle, taking on the clean-energy challenge also may be the most important policy we will ever pass. And we cannot afford to wait any longer to act.

Anyone who thinks that Sen. Reid doesn’t get it just isn’t paying attention.

Reid lays out a strong six-point plan of action that requires comprehensive climate and clean energy legislation, including funding for clean energy R&D, tax credits, and deployment, a renewable energy standard, improving transmission, and:

Fifth, we must more quickly wean ourselves off of oil by electrifying our cars, trucks and trains. We can’t afford to continue importing 21 million barrels of oil per day. That really hurts our national security. So we really need to reduce our oil consumption with clean and renewable power.

Finally – and perhaps most importantly – Congress needs to send the market a clear signal on the costs of global warming pollution to drive far greater investments into geothermal and every other form of renewable energy and energy efficiency.

It won’t be easy to pass bipartisan climate and clean energy jobs bill — it’s certainly not a sure thing given the steadfast opposition by the anti-science ideologues — but with Reid and Obama pushing hard for it, I wouldn’t bet against it.

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11 Responses to Senate Majority Leader expects to pass bipartisan energy and climate bill this spring: It “may be the most important policy we will ever pass.”

  1. fred says:

    You guys are copping it over at twawki.com

    [JR: Oh, no, climate science has been attacked by another obscure anti-science blog. What to do?!]

  2. Leif says:

    A unified strong public showing of hands would be helpful.

  3. Craig says:

    The science keeps getting more chilling and emissions keep rising, while countries like China begin pulling away in the clean energy race.

    Once the healthcare bill is finalized (any days now Dems!), I urge all concerned readers of this blog to push hard on their elected Senators. Reid is absolutely right, this is probably the most important vote any of these politicians will ever cast. Let’s make sure they hear our voices.

  4. Stuart says:

    I still hope President Obama signs the climate bill on May Day (or Marx’s birthday or something like that) just to hear the wingnut apoplexy about communist plots.

  5. #4. Stuart

    (Chuckle)

    A few rousing choruses of L’Internatonale or Solidarity playing in the background …

  6. Bill W says:

    Hear, hear! I just hope that there are enough senators who “get it” and won’t be bought by fossil fuel concerns.

  7. Dan B says:

    Joe;

    I’m praying that your readers will notice the brilliance of Reid’s rhetoric.

    Perhaps it’s the brilliance of his staff.

    If we had 10 Democrats who would echo his message. “drive investments”, “the clean-energy challenge also may be the most important policy we will ever pass”, etc.

    What’s missing is how the Senate will support or sink serious individual efforts to transform our economy from a toxic to a visionary energy economy?

  8. mark says:

    Thanks very much.

  9. Bob Wallace says:

    “drive investments”

    My take is that big corporations totally “get it”.

    The build out of renewable power projects and the installation of the smart grid is one of the largest business opportunities to come along in the US since, what, the initial industrialization of the country?

    It’s bigger than the interstate system or the personal computer/internet creation. It might not be as large as the WWII effort, but a lot of companies had to operate under profit controls during that period.

    Most large corporations see no future for them in building coal plants, even nuclear plants. We don’t need new coal and any nuclear construction would be limited to only a few players.

    I suspect there will be plenty large money behind legislation to move us away from fossil fuels. The resistance money will come from existing coal interests and foreign players. And the offshore guys have to be careful not to show their hands….

  10. caerbannog says:

    A bit off-topic, but very much worth mentioning:

    There’s a piece entitled, “How High Will Seas Rise? Get Ready for Seven Feet” at http://e360.yale.edu/content/feature.msp?id=2230. (Just published yesterday).

    The article was written by Robert Young and Orrin Pilkey, of Western Carolina University and Duke University, respectively. Pilkey, in particular, is an internationally-known expert in shoreline dynamics. These guys are professional scientists, not lightweight political/advocacy types.

    The Young/Pilkey article might be worth a quick followup blog piece here highlighting the increasingly ominous sea-level-rise projections coming out of the scientific community.

  11. Congress works hard to pass bills with concise and descriptive titles. Spoken and printed words have never meant so little. Big difference between passing words and seeing actual change.