photo via flickr
On Friday, notable environmentalists Al Gore, Fredd Krupp, and others sent a letter to President Obama warning him that time is running short this year to pass a bill that caps carbon pollution and asking him to personally intervene in the sausage making process to help get something done. The Senate's leadership has not yet settled on a bill to get behind, with competing bills looking only at the utility industry, responsible for about 40 percent of US emissions, while others want an economy-wide solution. Besides Gore and Krupp of the Environmental Defense Fund, other signatories include Maggie Fox, president of the Alliance for Climate Protection; John Podesta, president of the Center for American Progress; and Kevin Knobloch, president of the Union of Concerned Scientists.
It's anyone's guess if there will be a bill on the president's desk this year. Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada has signaled that by early July he wants bills from committee heads, but here we are on July 4th and there is still no consensus on how to move forward.
The latest scuttlebutt is that Jeff Bingaman, a Democrat of New Mexico, is working on a utility only bill to go along with an oil spill bill, but the question is which Republicans will go along? In Copenhagen, of course, Obama promised emissions cuts of 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020. A utility only bill would likely not get us anywhere close to that target.
Here's the full letter:
Dear Mr. President:
Thank you for your forceful and eloquent expression of the absolute necessity for bold action to accelerate America's transition to clean energy. Time and again you have described to Americans the benefits of clean energy reform. Your administration has taken important actions by making unprecedented investments in clean energy technology, setting more efficient fuel economy standards, and adopting many other measures. Now is the time to take the next essential steps.
Even as Americans see heartbreaking and infuriating images of damage to the Gulf Coast, well-funded and powerful special interests have been working furiously to defeat progress and maintain the status quo. They have recruited their allies to help paralyze the Senate's deliberations over whether and how to reduce oil use and cut global warming pollution, using tactics that have derailed efforts by presidents for the last 40 years to curtail our ever-growing dependence on oil. A rapidly growing number of our millions of active members are deeply frustrated at the inability of the Senate and your Administration to act in the face of an overwhelming disaster in the gulf, and the danger to our nation and world.
The Senate needs your help to end this paralysis. With the window of opportunity quickly closing, nothing less than your direct personal involvement, and that of senior administration officials, can secure America's clean energy future. We strongly urge you to produce a bill, in conjunction with key senators, that responds to the catastrophe in the gulf, cuts oil use, and limits carbon pollution while maintaining current health and other key legal protections. We further urge you to work with the Senate to bring that bill to the floor for passage before the August recess. White House leadership is the only path we see to success, just as your direct leadership was critical in the passage of the recovery plan, health care reform, and other administration successes.
Two weeks ago, in an address to the nation from the Oval Office, you laid out the issue in stark terms: "The consequences of our inaction are now in plain sight. We cannot consign our children to this future... Now is the moment for this generation to embark on a national mission to unleash American innovation and seize control of our own destiny." We emphatically agree. America's future prosperity, the health of our environment, our ability to create good quality clean-energy jobs and to meet our international commitments, and our national security rest on the action you take in the days ahead.
Maggie Fox, President and CEO
Alliance for Climate Protection
David Foster, Executive Director
John Podesta, President and CEO
Center for American Progress Action Fund
Margie Alt, Executive Director
Fred Krupp, President
Environmental Defense Fund
Gene Karpinski, President
League of Conservation Voters
Larry Schweiger, President
National Wildlife Federation
Peter Lehner, Executive Director
Natural Resources Defense Council
Kevin Knobloch, President
Union of Concerned Scientists