Henry Waxman: America ‘Cannot Afford To Run Second’ In The Clean Energy Race

Our guest blogger is Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), chair of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, and co-author of the American Clean Energy and Security Act.

The first landing on the Moon crystallized, for all humanity, what we can do when we apply our genius, enterprise, and the spirit of exploration to extraordinary goals. Forty years ago today, America both inspired the world and made clear that she was the world’s leader in science, technology, and advanced industry when Neil Armstrong became the first person to walk on the moon.

In the midst of war abroad and turmoil at home, it was one of this Nation’s proudest moments.

We have an opportunity today to reassert America’s leadership by undertaking a mission every bit as important as sending astronauts to the Moon and returning them safely to Earth.

As with the space program, this new mission will revitalize our economy, create jobs, and spur research, development, and innovation.

Today’s challenge is to restructure our energy profile to finally become significantly less dependent on imported oil, thereby promoting our national security; to tap new, clean renewable energy sources and become much more energy efficient in our homes, businesses and factories, all of which will drive massive investment and jobs growth; and to meet the very real and dangerous threat posed by global warming pollution.

In 1969, the landing on the moon was the culmination of the space race with the Soviet Union. Once again, to meet today’s challenges, we are on the brink of a revolution in science and technology — this time focused on the imperative of a clean energy future. Today, we are engaged in a clean energy technology race with other countries. Today, it is South Korea which supplies most of the batteries for our electric cars. China is building six wind farms of 10,000 to 20,000 megawatts each, has raised its 2020 target for solar power to 20 gigawatts, and is committed to spending more than $30 billion for construction of renewable and other clean energy technology projects.

This is a race for leadership of the prime growth industry of the 21st century — and we cannot afford to run second. The American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES) of 2009 provides $190 billion in investment in new clean energy technologies and energy efficiency, clean coal technology, electric and other advanced technology vehicles, and basic scientific R&D.; ACES will power our renewed leadership in clean energy.

Thanks to President Obama’s leadership, we in the House of Representatives have already taken the first firm steps on the landscape of energy independence for America and fighting global warming by our support of the American Clean Energy and Security Act.

When President Kennedy, in 1961, challenged the country to put a man on the Moon by the end of that decade, that goal seemed difficult, if not impossible, to achieve. But Congress and the American people rose to the challenge, and made the impossible, real. It took leadership, unrelenting focus, ingenuity, some minor scientific miracles, and billions of dollars, but we were willing to work and sacrifice to succeed to ensure a better future.

Consistent with the spirit that lifted Apollo 11 to the Moon, American expertise, innovation, and commitment will once again triumph. Just as we did 40 years ago, America must be the one to lead the world. I am convinced we will come together in the Congress this year to enact comprehensive clean energy legislation that will enable us to, once again, accomplish what once seemed impossible — for the betterment of our country, our people, our environment, and our future.


Rep. Ed Markey, chair of the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, and co-author of the American Clean Energy and Security Act, writes at the Huffington Post:

A few weeks ago, the House of Representatives took a giant legislative leap in America’s historic effort to win the next great technological revolution: the clean energy race of the 21st century. This race is more important for America to win (and, thankfully, easier).