Columbus, OH -- Action in Congress on a new energy future and global warming is slowing again -- a sign that the influence of the carbon lobby in our capital is alive and well. But to be able to come to Ohio and sit down with both the Governor and the Lt. Governor to discuss the opportunities that a clean energy future offer even a coal state like Ohio shows that America is moving on the issues, even if Washington, DC is still stuck in an ice floe.
The biggest news of the past several weeks was the federal district court ruling that Vermont and other states can adopt California's clean car standards, which will reduce carbon dioxide pollution per vehicle by 30 percent. The National Association of Auto Dealers alerted their members that this could mean much stronger pressure for congressional action, but lawyers for the auto industry are still reassuring the companies that somewhere, someday, they will find a judge who will say that black is white and carbon dioxide is not a pollutant. If they do, such a ruling will be promptly appealed to the US Supreme Court, which has already ruled on the issue.
Meanwhile, governors are weighing in with Congress. A letter from thirteen governors -- ranging from California and New York to Utah and Maine -- called on the auto industry to form a partnership and clean up its act. Seven governors, largely from coal and auto states, had sent a letter a few days earlier also urging Congress to act -- but hinting that they wanted a weaker bill than the one which passed the Senate. What's significant is that both sides are now asking Congress to act. Reality is beginning to sink in.
The National Governors Association, led by Republican Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, launched a major clean energy initiative. Pawlenty said that, "Our nation has enjoyed more than a hundred years of inexpensive energy, seemingly inexhaustible oil and a relatively forgiving environment, but America can no longer rely on business-as-usual to meet its energy needs, and the nation's governors are prepared to lead the way in crafting a sensible, sustainable clean energy future." Pawlenty also mentioned the elephant in the automotive global warming living room -- that "if enough states adopt a policy, it becomes a de facto national policy."
For his part, New York Attorney-General Andrew Cuomo kicked off a new, state-based initiative to counter the Coal Rush. Opening an investigation into whether investments in coal-fired power plants by five big utilities -- AES Corporation, Dominion, Dynegy, Peabody Energy and Xcel Energy -- were financially prudent, or, given the inevitability of costs for emitting carbon, whether the companies were exposing their investors to unnecessary and undisclosed risk.
Are we meeting the challenge that Patriarch Bartholomew I issued in Greenland last week? Are we acting in time? It's too soon to say, but America is moving.