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?