This week, 25 Executive Directors from state conservation voter organizations descended on Capitol Hill to lobby their members of Congress on comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation. The organizations have worked to pass innovative energy policies in their states for years and they know that now is the time for Congress to act as well.
These state environmental leaders arrived to a wave of momentum for clean energy and climate legislation. The state organizations helped pass the House bill with bipartisan support in June and have joined the growing coalition, ranging from businesses to labor unions, faith leaders to veterans, that is calling for the Senate to move forward with the Clean Energy Jobs & American Power Act.
The newly introduced legislation seeks to strengthen the House bill by cutting global warming emissions 20 percent by 2020 and includes policies that would protect consumers and unleash investments in clean energy throughout the U.S. In response to the Senate bill introduction President Obama said he was "deeply committed" to passing a new energy law that would put limits on global warming pollution. On Monday he set an example for Congress by signing an executive order that would require all government agencies to set the first-ever targets for reducing global warming pollution.
In addition to clear Congressional momentum, the Environmental Protection Agency has continually expressed a commitment to keep the ball rolling on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, with or without legislative action. EPA Administrator Jackson complemented the Kerry-Boxer proposal by announcing plans the same day to curb carbon pollution from big power plants and other major polluters under the Clean Air Act.
All of this movement is bolstered by the majority support of the American public when it comes to passing comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation. Poll after poll has shown that, despite the millions spent by Big Oil and other corporate polluters attacking these policies, support continues to grow because people recognize that dealing with climate change is essential to a prosperous future. Armed with stories from constituent voters, our state league partners were able to echo that Americans support a clean energy economy that creates millions of new jobs, improves our national security, and protects the planet by reducing global warming pollution.
LCV's state allies were in good company this week as they delivered messages of support to members of Congress. More than 150 business leaders supporting the bill visited Senators' offices this week to urge movement on the legislation. Some of them, including Apple, are part of the growing list of members defecting from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce because of the organization's opposition to climate legislation.
This week Congress heard loud and clear -- from a variety of messengers -- that it's time to put America back in control of our energy future. From Fortune 500 CEOs to state environmental leaders, the support is impossible to ignore and Senators should work to pass a bill this year that creates jobs, makes America more energy independent and reduces harmful global warming pollution.