08/15/2007 02:42 pm ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Fighting Climate Change

Ten years ago, the evidence that human activity was responsible for global climate change was mounting. In Europe, policy makers took notice, passing a European Union-wide goal of generating 12 percent of its power from renewable sources by 2010, and 20 percent by 2020. By contrast in America, Republican leaders in Congress chose to bury their heads in the sand rather than see the writing on the wall.

The United States has never been afraid of a challenge. In times of crisis, it is American innovation and ingenuity that has forged the path to progress and prosperity. As Republican denial and inaction have persisted, we've ceded our leadership role -- until now.

Working late into the night before breaking for August recess, the Democratic House took the first vital step to rejoin the global community and meet the crucial challenge of this era -- the challenge of global climate change.

Included in the House Energy Bill is a provision creating a national renewable energy standard (RES), which requires our electric suppliers to be environmentally conscious by deriving 15 percent of their energy -- four percent of which can come from efficiency improvements -- from renewable sources by the year 2020. I am proud to have been a leading cosponsor of this amendment, which passed by an overwhelming bipartisan vote.

However, much action has taken place at the state and local level. Twenty-three states already have RES programs. In my home state of Colorado, voters passed an initiative requiring a 10 percent standard. It has been so successful that the governor and legislature recently increased it to 20 percent by 2020.

Our national RES proposal is source-neutral giving utility companies the opportunity to use wind, biomass, solar, and geothermal renewables found throughout every region of the country. While the West has vast wind potential, the Southeast can meet this standard with biomass and solar. In fact, the governor of Florida recently proposed a 20 percent standard for his state.

The benefits of a national RES are endless: it will save consumers money through lower natural gas bills, generate new capital investment, provide additional income to ranchers and farmers, and create countless high-paying "green" jobs.

This success is only the first piece of a much larger Democratic climate change agenda. With the continued support of citizens who refuse to accept inaction at the expense of future generations, we will lead the world toward a sustainable future.