Sarah Palin's "cap and tax" opinion piece printed in the Washington Post this week reminds me of every naysayer who has spoken out against progress in cleaning up pollution.
Whether it was the debate over the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Superfund law or any of our other landmark environmental laws, one pattern has always been clear:
Time and time again, pessimists -- often affiliated with polluting industries -- predicted loss of jobs and great costs to taxpayers. And time and time again, our environmental laws have cleaned up the water we drink, the air we breathe, and the communities we live in at far lower cost than expected.
Take the acid rain program established in the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990.
The naysayers said it would cost consumers billions in higher electricity rates, when in reality the opposite happened, and electricity rates declined an average of 19 percent between 1990 and 2006.
The naysayers also said that cost to business would be more than $50 billion a year, when in reality the health and other benefits of the program outweighed the costs 40 to 1.
Another charge was that it would cost the economy millions of jobs. In reality, the American economy grew by 20 million jobs between 1993 and 2000, as the economy grew 64 percent.
So Sarah Palin's negative attitude is nothing new, and just as those naysayers before her got it absolutely wrong, so does she.
She claims that low income families will be hurt by rising energy prices. In fact, the independent Congressional Budget Office has estimated that the poorest 20 percent of American families would actually come out ahead by $40 a year under the Waxman-Markey legislation passed last month by the House of Representatives.
The carefully crafted Climate Security Jobs bill that we will present to the Senate, based on the Waxman-Markey bill, will jumpstart our economy, protect consumers, stop the ravages of unchecked global warming, and ensure that America will be the leading economic power in this century.
But don't just take it from me.
Thomas Friedman put it concisely in his most recent book, Hot, Flat and Crowded:
"...the ability to develop clean power and energy efficient technologies is going to become the defining measure of a country's economic standing, environmental health, energy security, and national security over the next 50 years."
John Doerr -- one of the nation's leading venture capitalists, who helped launch Google and Amazon.com -- has told us that putting a price on carbon will help spark the clean energy revolution. He predicted that the investment capital that will flow into clean energy will dwarf the amount invested in high-tech and biotech combined.
Doerr said, "Going green may be the largest economic opportunity of the 21st century. It is the mother of all markets."
This bill is a jobs bill. By creating powerful incentives for clean energy, it will create millions of new jobs in America -- building wind turbines, installing solar panels on homes, and producing a new fleet of electric and hybrid vehicles.
Just look at a recent report by the Pew Charitable Trusts, which found that more than 10,000 new clean energy businesses were launched in California from 1998 to 2007. During that period, clean energy investments created more than 125,000 jobs and generated jobs 15 percent faster than the California economy as a whole.
Sarah Palin is turning her back on the nation's leading economic experts. And she is turning her back on national security experts as well.
A May 2009 report by a panel of retired U.S. generals and admirals found that, "Our dependence on foreign oil reduces our international leverage, places our troops in dangerous global regions, funds nations and individuals who wish us harm, and weakens our economy; our dependency and inefficient use of oil also puts our troops at risk."
She says we should drill our way out of this crisis, but we can't. She ignores the fact that the U.S. has only 3 percent of the world's oil reserves, while we are responsible for 25 percent of the world's oil consumption.
Does Sarah Palin really want us to keep sending send hundreds of billions of dollars overseas annually to import oil from countries that, in many cases, are working to harm Americans and American interests around the world?
Our approach to energy must be balanced and it must provide the incentives for all the available sources of clean energy that will help reduced our dependence on foreign oil.
Does she really want another nation to lead the way to the innovative clean energy solutions that will be eagerly gobbled up by the rest of the world?
As Governor Palin moves away from public service, she takes her place with those who have always fought efforts to protect the environment at every turn. She echoes all the tired old arguments that have been proven wrong again and again. When we protect the American people from pollution they not only get the health benefits, they get the job benefits. And in this case, they also get national security benefits, and the benefits that come from world leadership.
I plan to continue working tirelessly every day to pass legislation that will reduce our dependence on foreign oil, create millions of clean energy jobs, and protect our children from pollution.
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