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Historic Vote Moves America Closer to Clean Energy and Climate Solutions

06/22/2009 05:12 am 05:12:01 | Updated May 25, 2011

I felt like celebrating last night. After more than 10 years working to stop climate change, I welcomed this historic development: the House Energy and Commerce Committee passed the American Clean Energy and Security Act, a bill that will make significant investments in clean energy and reduce global warming pollution.

Not only did the bill clear a major hurdle on Thursday night -- moving out of committee and closer toward the House floor. But it did so with the backing of lawmakers from across the nation, representing a wide range of energy needs. The bill was also endorsed by many environmental, business, labor, and other organizations.

I view this broad support as a testament to the bills immense economic and energy potential.

This bill has the power to jumpstart whole new industries, create millions of good-paying American jobs, and generate hundreds of billions of dollars in energy savings and benefits to low-income families. It will also demonstrate American leadership as the international community crafts a new agreement to protect our planet in Copenhagen later this year.

Thursday's vote was the culmination not just of a week of marathon debate within the committee, but months of negotiation and years of planning, strategizing, and mobilizing. Even before Waxman and Markey released their first draft in late March, NRDC experts were working with congressional staff on the policy details that shaped this nearly thousand-page bill.

The vote last night is a validation of that work. It also validates the work NRDC has put into partnerships like US Climate Action Partnership (USCAP) and the Blue-Green Alliance of environmentalists and labor unions.

This victory is significant, but it is just the beginning of the huge effort that lies ahead to get a strong bill to the president's desk.

Over the next couple of months, the bill is expected to be referred to eight other House committees before going to the floor for a vote. While some committees do not plan on scrutinizing the bill, others will consider it carefully, so our team will be tracking these deliberations closely. If everything goes as planned and the bill passes the floor vote, then the Senate will take up the bill in the fall and we start all over again. (See my recent post about the critical importance of getting a House vote before the August recess.)

I look forward to continuing to push toward a signing ceremony at the White House in the near future.

This post originally appeared on NRDC's Switchboard blog.