Bipartisan group of 1,198 state legislators urges Congress, Obama to pass climate and clean energy jobs bill

Introducing guest blogger Susan Lyon, the newest member of CAPAF’s Energy Opportunity team.

Earlier today, 1,198 state legislators sent a letter to President Obama and Congress calling for prompt enactment of “comprehensive clean energy jobs and climate change legislation.”  It calls for strong legislation in order to create jobs and increase national security while also protecting against the risks posed by climate change.

The letter, which has signatures of representatives from 49 states including over two dozen Republicans, was sent by the Coalition of Legislators for Energy Action Now (CLEAN), a bipartisan coalition of state lawmakers that formed in October 2009 to push for strong national climate action.  These signatories include 76 majority and minority leaders in their state legislatures.  Ironically, the one state whose legislators oppose any solutions, Louisiana, has already suffered more than most states from the impacts of climate change.

Many U.S. states have adopted clean energy and greenhouse gas pollution reduction policies, taking climate leadership in the absence of federal action.  For instance, 29 states have passed their own renewable electricity (or portfolio) standards that require their utilities to generate a certain portion of their electricity from wind, solar or other renewable energy sources.  The letter states:

State legislators have been leading clean energy efforts for decades. As the laboratories of democracy, states have proven that clean energy jobs and climate legislation results in job growth, in greater security, and in spurring American leadership and innovation.

These state legislative leaders acknowledge that they can make only so much progress without Congressional leadership.  This letter emphasizes the urgency of passing a comprehensive energy and climate bill from states’ perspectives.  Congress needs to act in order to create sustainable jobs, to limit the national amount of carbon dioxide being emitted into the atmosphere, and to send clear signals to green investors.

If we do not act now, the coalition notes, the U.S. will continue to fall further behind countries with already surging clean energy sectors:

The clean energy and climate challenge is America’s new space race.

State Rep. Cynthia Thielen (R – HI), one of the letter’s Republican co-sponsors, said:

The actions America takes, or does not take, to transform its energy infrastructure will have an impact on American life that cannot be overstated.  As has so often been the case throughout our nation’s great history, those actions will have profound effects across the global landscape as well. Not since the era of industrialization has technological change held such importance in our planet’s fate, and the fate of its people.

The letter also has the endorsement of several chairs and vice-chairs of state energy and natural resources committees.  It follows on the heels of the We Can Lead letter sent last week from 80 business leaders to President Obama and Congress, which also urged comprehensive energy and climate legislation.  If Democrats, Republicans, and business leaders alike are in agreement, then what is Congress waiting for?

9 Responses to Bipartisan group of 1,198 state legislators urges Congress, Obama to pass climate and clean energy jobs bill

  1. Don Smith says:

    It seems America is asking about jobs.. A few hundred green jobs on some pork projects doesn’t cut it.

  2. Leif says:

    IMO one of the best “jobs” bill out there would be passage of Universal Health Care. For the life of me I do not understand why corporate America is not promoting UHC as it would remove a significant business overhead and make them more completive in the world market. Second. Corporations will pay overtime before taking on a new employee to minimize health care overhead. Third. Many people, free of the burden of supporting health insurance would work less hours a week if given the opportunity. Freeing yet more time slots for additional employees. “Sick days” are covered more efficiently when additional employees are available than when short staffed already. More free home time improves home economics by lessening day care, medical expenses, home maintenance and just plane improved quality of life.

  3. Ihatedeniers says:

    If the climate bill doesn’t pass we should push for action on the sate and local level. And with this report that looks doable. :)

  4. Jay Alt says:

    Obama needs all the spine stiffening he can find –

    Fears Obama will omit climate change from State of Union speech. Environmental organisations believe Obama is being urged to downplay climate change during this year’s speech –

    UK Guardian

    If only you and Ross could get those environmentalist’s demands under control. Always wrecking the ‘game plan’ – give fluffy speechs on AGW everywhere – except in the United States of America.

    [JR: I doubt it will be omitted.]

  5. Joseph says:

    So, only 16% of our country’s 7,382 state legislators huh? Sounds like a definite minority to me.

  6. Dan B says:

    Wow… two of the six posters in these comments believe global warming is a scam.

    That must mean something….

    I wonder if it would take every legislator in the USA to say it’s time to move forward on the 21st Century economy and leave the fossil fuel past behind?

    Me, and my neighbors, are moving forward. Green and clean energy contractors in this area are booked. Energy efficient houses are moving while energy wasters are sitting for two or three years.

    We’re going where the economy and jobs are thriving.

  7. The United States needs “a comprehensive energy and climate bill with incentives that will finally make clean energy the profitable kind of energy in America.”

    Uh oh. I think we need clean energy that is profitable compared to burning coal in China. Profits are something we can afford indefinitely, incentives can get crippling when applied to an industry so large it literally powers America.

    Think about jobs for a moment:

    Windpower? The turbines are made in China, less than half the investment is spent in the United States. The investment lasts 20 years.

    Solar? (a) makes sense only in markets powered primarily by gas turbines (e.g. California), (b) makes sense only for consumers attempting to reduce payments to utilities in those markets, (c) more than half the investment gets spent in China. Again, the investment lasts 20 years.

    Biomass? Pulp mills have a long history of successfully converting excess biomass to energy, corn ethanol has been a disaster, are there any other large-scale examples?

    Nuclear? Aside from the larger pressure vessels of newer designs, which can only be forged at Japan Steel Works, and perhaps the power turbines, everything else is or can be domestic. Investment lasts 60 years, maybe longer. If we’re serious, how about a loan guarantee for a new forge?

    Read Bill Gates’ piece in the Huffington Post. If you are serious about an 80% reduction in CO2 production by 2050, then you need to get with a plan that
    (a) starts right now, and does not wait for some new technology (biomass? solar?) to be developed,
    (b) drives electricity and transport emissions to ZERO, which conservation in these sectors will not do, and
    (c) is globally price competitive.

    That’s a mix of nuclear and wind, with nuclear emitting vastly less CO2 during the build process, making more domestic jobs, and leaving behind a more durable asset.

    And then think about this: which has a larger environmental footprint? The San Onofre nuclear powerplant (84 acres), or all the windmills in California (and their transmission lines) combined? San Onofre, by itself, is currently outproducing all the wind turbines in California. And in Iowa. And in Texas. Combined.

    We need environmentalists like yourselves to push for more nuclear plants, right away.

  8. Bill says:

    51 of our legislators supported this thesis, including our local gal. My family is at 12 feet above mean sea level…help us on the +10 tides and rainfall! We hope and pray the worst case scenarios are overly pessimistic, but even the best are not good for our future of raising sea levels and worse storms yet to come.

    It has been very difficult to watch the failures of the US government to recognize the facts of the dangers of climate change, whatever the causes. The lack of progress is distressing to us. We use far less energy, packaging, materials, etc., but we cannot do it alone. We need the whole country behind finding answers. Enter the republican blockade at the federal levels; thank goodness many of the state level GOP delegations are becoming aware of the threats.

    I really feel the disregard of the national GOP making Louisiana look even sillier and sillier. I know many people from Louisiana and I worked in the oil exploration business there years ago (when the snakes climbed the trees on islands in the swamps on rainy days, even back then). I do not believe the people of Louisiana are getting the true scoop on climate change and the associated effects.

    If you want to produce fewer greenhouse waste gases, look first to conservation, conservatives.

    Technologies are coming down the pike, but the lack of interest by the large corporations is alarming. A lack of clean patent protections precludes any investments…the OLD economy of greed first. So the small inventors are out right away.

    Now, look at the megatech, megamoney guys and the fusion (breeder) technologies pushed by Bill Gates and others; all neatly wrapped in patent protections…yes money buys power (wow, an accidental double entendre!). They own it too!

    I have personally believed for a long time that the correct path to responsible atomic energy has always been achievable through the fusion processes such as entertained by Gates’ corporations (if it works) and as used by France and others; and not the ‘old’ thermal neutron systems of the past which are wasteful and dirty. I applaud the use of contained systems with long, powerful useful lifetimes; easily isolated and contained for eventual cleanup.

    I abhor the private ownership and control of these technologies with concomitant further concentrations of wealth and power (double entendre again!). I do not trust the wealthy to work in anyone’s interests but their own. Excessive wealth seems to breed excessive need for more wealth, even at the expense of the least among us.

    I look to local production, conservation, and lower-tech home-made alternatives; coupled with growth controls established with market and moral prerogatives of individual liberties and responsibilities. Greed is not good for anyone!!

  9. Cheers for Iain McCluthchly! We do indeed need Nuclear Energy, in particular the Breeder as they use in France. Unfortunately, Bill is wrong when he says Fusion is used in France. It still has not been proven possible. And despite Bill Gates cachet, I think it will be many years before it will.