The news out of Washington has grown discouraging lately. Lawmakers are bickering and Congress is in gridlock. Corporations, meanwhile, have been given license by the Supreme Court to purchase more political influence than ever before.
Many Americans are tempted to turn their backs on the DC infighting, but that would be a mistake. We still possess a powerful ability to influence our lawmakers. When we raise our voices loudly and fully enough, we can hit the core sensitivity of politicians: the desire for votes. They are still our representatives, after all, and they have to respond to public outcry.
From Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to Wyoming's oil and gas fields, I've seen concerned activists demand the best of our lawmakers.
That citizen force is about to be unleashed again, and this time, it will be in support of the most critical environmental vote of my lifetime: passing clean energy and climate legislation in the Senate.
This Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, you have a chance to add your voice to the hundreds of thousands of people who will be urging their senators to pass the bill as part of a 72-hour call-in campaign -- a national grassroots' effort by more than 30 groups.
The campaign is organized by environmental organizations, labor unions, veterans groups, faith and business leaders who want to build momentum for climate action, and now is a critical moment, since right now Congress is setting its agenda for the rest of 2010. We need clean energy and climate legislation to be on the table.
Taken together, these hundreds of thousands of calls can give senators the shot in the arm they need. A reminder that Americans from all backgrounds want our leaders to deal with the crisis of climate change and unleash the opportunities that come from building a clean energy future.
Some lawmakers grumble that passing clean energy and climate legislation will be too hard during an election year. Too hard?
I think it will be too hard for our children to have to clean up the devastation of climate change because we failed to act soon enough. It will be too hard for American workers to remain unemployed because we haven't given businesses the incentives they need to invest in innovative technologies and create jobs. And it will be too hard for America to watch China dominate the global clean energy market because we decided to sit on the sidelines while the clean energy race passed us by.
American voters expect their leaders to rise up to challenges, not shy away from them. Clean energy and climate legislation calls on our lawmakers to be bold and visionary. But if they are going to lead us into the 21st century, they need to know that American voters are behind them.
And remember, they need to hear from ordinary citizens who support this bill, because they are getting an earful from industry lobbyists who oppose it.
According to recent reports, oil and gas companies spent about $154 million on lobbying in 2009 -- 16 percent more than they spent in 2008. Exxon Mobil led the pack with as much as $6.7 million spent on lobbying efforts. Compare these deep pockets to the lobbying budget of the entire environmental community: $18.3 million.
The deck is stacked, but that doesn't mean dirty tricks will win in the end.
Years ago, Big Oil companies spent a lot of money claiming that removing lead from gasoline would ruin them. Big Coal complained that controlling acid rain pollution would put them out of business. They lost those battles, and they will lose this one too.
But only if we fight back.
Now is the time to make your voices heard. If you believe that investing in clean energy can create jobs, protect our security, put America at the forefront of a global market, and help us solve global warming, then tell you should call in and tell your senators to pass a clean energy and climate bill.
Call in to 1-877-973-7693. Tell them who you are. And say you support passing clean energy and climate legislation now.