Last night a minority of Senators thwarted an attempt to move America forward when they voted to kill support for green tax breaks and incentives. The vote gave the Senate a chance to break with the old energy economy - dirty energy; taxpayer subsidies for billion-dollar oil, coal, and gas corporations like Exxon; dependence on foreign oil - and instead to step into the new economy of wind and solar power, clean energy jobs, and energy independence. Fifty-nine Senators made the right choice, but the green tax incentives lost by just one vote. (59 voted for it, 40 against, then Senator Harry Reid changed his vote for procedural reasons, making the final tally 58-41).
The good news is that this wasn't about partisan politics. Eight Republicans joined Democrats in supporting the bill: Snowe, Collins, Coleman, Smith, Dole, Domenici, Specter, and Grassley. Only one Senator missed the vote - John McCain was in Washington, but didn't show up for the vote. The bad news is that a minority of our leaders in Washington stopped America once again from investing in common-sense green solutions such as credits for high-efficiency appliances and energy efficient homes and businesses.Despite Americans losing by one vote, I'm still heartened by how far we've come. We were only one vote away from rejecting the outdated Bush-Cheney big oil worldview on energy. That kind of vote would have been unthinkable even a few years ago. Then, Dick Cheney and lobbyists for big oil, coal, and gas corporations met behind closed doors to set energy policy. Not surprisingly, they emerged to release to the world a singularly venal and unimaginative energy policy that proposed to do nothing more than perpetuate and expand the past’s dirty energy economy.
Now, Americans have begun to take matters into their own hands and move beyond the Bush-Cheney years. We're demanding energy independence; we're demanding that we reward American ingenuity, not dinosaur oil companies with billion dollar profits; we're demanding that America lead again. True, 40 Senators voted no, and John McCain decided not to vote - but 59 Senators heard their constituents and voted yes to a new future. We're not there yet, but this is progress.
Image credit::Big Oil Fields, Famous Oil Investors, 'elephant-head rig'