10/26/2012 07:44 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

TELLING Congress to Support Clean Energy: Sign Here

No, it's not another petition. The time for that is long past. As someone who takes a weekly pulse on climate change, I hear Voltaire's words of 1769, "Men argue, nature acts" constantly ringing in my ears. Nature's egg timer on us is ticking, and we're starting to fry.

So no, my green, blue and red friends, a petition is obsolete. And nothing exemplifies that more than the Tea Party, fueled by oilies like the Koch brothers. They showed the rest of us that we don't have to ask Congress -- we can TELL Congress, by explicitly stating who we will vote for and why. And Congress listens to votes. Hence, the Congressional Clean Energy Voting Pledge, a.k.a. We Are the Clean 99%. It's common sense stuff, actually, if you stop trying to ignore what the planet's been telling us -- heck, even fracking is threatened by climate change.

Addressed to Congress, the pledge tells Congress to provide continuous reliable support for clean renewable energy, stop subsidizing dirty energy, and make the rich pay their fair share of taxes to help subsidize a (hopefully quick) transition to clean energy. And, of course, the last part: "We pledge our votes to those candidates who support these goals." When a serious number of people pledge, we show Congress that there is a serious Clean Energy Voting Bloc out there, telling them to support clean energy or get voted out. And then keep reminding Congress in 2014, 2016, 2018...

This is important, because Congressional elections often get lost in the hoopla of presidential races. But our green energy president accomplished little in four years because a working green energy majority didn't exist in either Congressional branch. In fact, over 160,000 voting voices couldn't even get climate change mentioned in the first two presidential debates. Wait, there's worse. It wasn't even mentioned in the much more frank, honest, and entertaining Bill O'Reilly/Jon Stewart rumble 2012. You know things are bad when even the comedians are silent.


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Another distraction is the straw man of voting priorities, tamping down clean energy as an important election issue. It's [jobs] [the economy] [health care], stupid, not energy/the environment. Actually, transitioning to clean energy will supply millions more jobs than the fossil fuel industry ever will. The resulting lack of fossil-fueled air and water pollution will cut medical costs big time nationally among voters. The resulting lack of extreme weather will also cut costs nationally.

Finally, ask the military whether Romney's "Drill, Baby, Drill" policy or transitioning to clean energy will enhance national security. They'll say, "Iraq, Afghanistan... and did you know that clean energy saves lives in the battlefield? Did you see how we're financing the biggest U.S. rooftop solar installation project and supporting big renewable energy projects?" So, all of the highest "voting priorities" are rolled up in this one. And polls show addressing climate change is a winning issue with that cherished electoral slice, the independent voters.


Marketing this pledge has been interesting. As a prominent western political friend once opined, Republicans herd like cattle, but Democrats are cats. Include under the latter, the majority of green nonprofit organizations. Mention the words "voting pledge" and they start worrying about endangering their tax status. They are also, understandably, totally fixated on their pet projects: stopping XL pipeline, petition of the week, etc. Emails to even clean energy organizations, suggesting they start their own voting pledges to pressure Congress, go unanswered. Indeed, even those organizations so far who have offered broad clean energy voting pledges have not said that they'd actually pressure Congress with them. The pledges are worded vaguely, apparently to inspire people to vote green in the 2012 elections, not hold Congress accountable to clearly defined goals via a voting bloc.

How to market this? Neither "killing whales," "lost my house" or other heart-grabbing, let's-go-viral phrases are in the title. Without those or an organization's emailing list, online broadcasts yield little. Mostly, each pledger has had to be gained personally. There are hundreds now, including many green leaders and regular concerned voters. But if you know of effective online marketing venues with proven track records that exist for this particular product, note it in the comments section below.

Meantime, here's my personal appeal to you: before you start feeling overwhelmed by the next manifestation of climate change, beefing about Congressional inaction on energy and climate change, or chaffing at what our president can't seem to accomplish, let alone say -- remember, YOU can make a difference, by telling Congress who you will vote for, and why. You can be part of a Congressional Clean Energy Voting Bloc. You can sign here. Then spread the word -- personally.