06/26/2013 11:09 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

This is When America Got Serious About Confronting Climate Change

President Obama laid out a climate action plan on Tuesday that will dramatically reduce global warming pollution and expand the clean energy economy. The plan is strong and concrete and will deliver lasting benefits to the American people. It is the kind of breakthrough that presidential legacies are built upon. In years to come, people will point to Obama's plan and say: this is when America got serious about confronting climate change.

The American people will welcome this display of leadership. Voters support the climate solutions President Obama has proposed in his plan--from expanding wind and solar energy to calling on power plants to clean up their pollution. They know these measures are good for our health, our communities, and our economy.

We see it in last year's election results, when voters overwhelmingly favored candidates who support clean energy, clean air, and public health safeguards. And we see it in poll after poll.

A Stanford University poll, for instance, found that 82 percent of Americans think the country should prepare for climate change. A Georgetown survey released yesterday reported that 87 percent of Americans--including 78 percent of Republicans--support the Environmental Protection Agency taking action to reduce carbon pollution. And a Gallup poll said that 76 percent of Americans think the U.S. should generate more solar power and 71 percent called for more wind.
These voters know that clean energy is creating new jobs and helping make the air safer to breathe. And they also know climate change is becoming a bigger threat to our families and communities. It's already making its presence known in the form of extreme drought, storms, and fires into our communities. More than 500 homes were burned to the ground in the fires around Colorado Springs this month. More than 305,000 homes in New York were damaged by Superstorm Sandy. Nobody wants this kind of expense and heartbreak to descend on their town.

And that's why more Americans have been calling for climate action. When the Environmental Protection Agency proposed the first-ever carbon pollution limits for new power plants, the agency received more than 3 million comments in favor of the standards--more than the EPA had received on any other issue in its history.

And yet in the coming weeks, carbon polluters and their allies in Congress will try to discount this groundswell of support. Oil and gas companies want to keep their stranglehold on America's energy system, and they donate heavily to political campaigns and like to throw their weight around. They are going to try scare folks into thinking that stabilizing our climate and growing the renewable energy sector is somehow bad for America. We have to stand strong and spread the truth.

If the polluters say cutting carbon pollution from power plants will raise the cost of electricity, tell them NRDC concluded that people could actually save hundreds of dollars on their utility bills. If they say confronting climate change will hurt the economy, point out that more than 120,000 Americans work in the solar industry, and more than 150,000 people work building parts for and assembling clean cars. And if they say climate change isn't a real threat, remind them of the 123 people who died from last July's record-breaking heat or the farmers who got $12 billion in insurance payments for crop damage after last year's record-breaking drought.

Telling these truths and telling our lawmakers we support action will help ensure our nation follows through on President' Obama's climate plan. But we can't do it alone. The president must build on the leadership he demonstrated on Tuesday and repeat over and over again why climate action is good for our nation.

The NRDC Action Fund has looked at the results of several recent elections, and we found that candidates who frame the clean energy and climate debate first--before their opponents--and don't back away from their position not only become trusted leaders on energy issues but they also win over voters.

The lesson is clear: President Obama can dominate the debate about his climate plan and lead America into a cleaner, more sustainable energy future.

Let's keep the fight going, ask your senators to join in: