06/24/2010 07:03 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

BP's Spewing Oil Best Argument for Climate Change Legislation

This piece is co-authored with Mike Langford, President of the Utility Workers Union of America. Michael Williams helped with research for this article.

With the oil continuing to spew out of BP's hole in the floor of the Gulf of Mexico and with Israel's assault on those who would provide aid to blockaded Gaza, the continuing rise of sea levels and melting of the Polar ice cap and climate patterns changing; it is beyond debate that we must move to green energy generation on a much larger and faster scale and pace and reduce the amount of carbon emitted in our air and the amount of fossil fuels that we consume.

This is no longer a debate about wildlife or nature or natural beauty or the environment. This is now a question of human sustainability, national security, and economic justice.

Just look at the Gulf. We are watching the economic devastation of a whole region of our country--the economic destruction of coastal regions from Louisiana to Florida and maybe all the way to North Carolina's Outer Banks. We are watching the destruction of a way of life and human culture as old as the story of Evangeline.

We know that a serious commitment to climate change legislation will result in the creation of as many as 2 million good-paying, family-sustaining jobs.

All this is why we at the Utility Workers Union of America are so pleased that the American Power Act has been introduced in the US Senate by Senators John Kerry and Joe Lieberman.


It is not perfect. But there is time and opportunity to improve it.

The legislation will spur investment in solar energy creation and wind energy generation. Maybe most importantly the legislation will reduce carbon emissions 4% by 2013, 17% by 2020, 42% by 2030, and 83% by 2050. Capping carbon emissions will create the incentives for America to cultivate its clean energy economy. Without the certainty of true emissions reduction we cannot achieve our environmental goals nor maximum job creation.

We need to both mandate and invest in green energy generation and energy efficiency improvements.

We must update our electricity grid and transmission lines--commonly called power lines--to accommodate wind and solar and to stop line loss.

Manufacturing investments are needed to make sure we have the products and components necessary in the clean energy economy, especially including the transmission sector as we move to update the grid.

The American Power Act provides funds directly for manufacturing projects that include advanced transmission technologies that support renewable technologies, and advancements in industrial efficiency, which will require, among other things, the improvement of industrial facilities' ability to interact with the grid and inproving transmission. In addition, the APA provides funds for clean vehicle technology, greatly increasing the number of electric vehicles and furthering the need to significantly update our nation's grid.

It is imperative that Congress move immediately to improve and pass comprehensive climate change legislation for our environment, our economy, our national security, and our future.