Fight for Climate is Like Civil Rights: Gore in Today's Capitol Hill Debate


Watch now on CSPAN.

The debate over the cap-and-trade climate bill before the House is getting some star power today: Former Vice President Al Gore & former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R) will be questioned today about the legislation before the House Energy Subcommittee.

Gore began his comments by comparing the effort on climate change to the civil rights legislation of the 1960s. "I believe this legislation has the moral significance equivalent to that of the civil rights legislation of the 1960s and the Marshall Plan of the late 1940s." We need, he said, to "restore America's leadership" by answering the "moral imperative" of climate change mitigation through cap-and-trade, smart grid development and research on carbon capture technologies, alongside job protection for those in conventional energy industries.

Next up was former Republican Senator John Warner from Virginia, who seemed to be calling for more stringent policy than that being discussed.Gore's backing of the bill comes after three days of hearings on Capitol Hill in which experts, Republicans and moderate Democrats have expressed concern that the bill will drive up energy costs.

The legislation would attempt to cut carbon emissions by 20 percent by 2020 and by 85 percent by 2050 and also create a renewable energy standard that requires wind, solar, and other renewable sources to meet 25 percent of US energy needs by 2025. It would also establish a cap-and-trade system to push utilities and industry polluters to meet those goals.

Fmr. Sen. John Warner (R-Va), today's second witness, compared climate change to the Cold War. "Back then the challenge was to stop a particular action. Now the challenge is to inspire particular action."

In addressing the public, particularly his former constituents in coal-rich Virginia, Warner emphasized that it is important to "be honest with them, tell them it's going to be a burden and tell them it's going to take time."

It will be interesting to see how Gingrich, who has called for a "green conservatism," balances his message of "demanding action from our leaders" with his allegiances to the GOP, and its fears that the bill will, among other things, destroy democracy.

See a live blog of today's hearing at the Sierra Club's Compass blog.

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