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.
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.