07/19/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Historic Fight in Congress for Our Clean Energy Future

Both the Senate and the House of Representatives are considering legislation that could set in motion a prosperous economy powered by wind and sun with millions of new clean energy jobs ...the kind of future voters envisioned when they swept President Obama into office, and that Earthjustice has worked towards for years through major legal and legislative efforts.

The legislation could shift government spending into clean energy alternatives, creating many of those jobs, while significantly reducing pollutants that harm people and the planet.

Promising as the legislative goals sound, however, the fossil fuel industry is lobbying hard to gut this effort to shift our country's energy priorities. The future they envision -- and are working hard in Congress right now to ensure -- is on a timetable that fits their business plans, ignores the urgency of global climate change and shunts aside the great economic potential at hand of investing in alternative, sustainable energy.

Our goal is clear -- to break their dirty energy monopoly -- and we are making progress. But, as these examples illustrate, the struggle is fierce:

- Coal and utility companies want to keep using and building coal-fired power plants without restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions. By contrast, Earthjustice is striving to keep intact the full power of the Clean Air Act to reduce emissions. Using this potent law, we have made great progress in curbing smog and soot, and we won't be satisfied until climate pollution is also under control.

- We are pushing for massive investment in clean energy and energy efficiency -- necessary to create a level playing field with fossil fuels -- but this threatens the subsidy stream coal and oil have enjoyed for decades, and the industry is fighting to keep every cent. The American economy could grow by more than 80 percent if the government helped fund green energy and embarked on a rigorous program of energy efficiency and conservation

- We are determined to obtain immediate reductions in climate pollution, but the industry wants business as usual, without emission limits, for many years more, no matter what the climate consequences are.

- The coal industry wants the freedom to continue blowing the tops off of ancient mountains and burying streams with the rubble. Ending this practice is one of our top priorities, but creating incentives for more coal-fired power takes us in exactly the wrong direction.

With so much at stake, Congress has a chance to seize this historic moment and steer our country towards a new kind of economic prosperity -- one that builds without destroying. Future generations should not have to look back upon this moment and mourn the road not taken.