Even before the Senate starts debating clean energy and climate legislation, the professional pessimists are saying it will never happen.
Some political analysts say it's just not possible this year to squeeze in legislation that aims to limit carbon pollution that is warming our planet or to invest in U.S. sources of clean energy. But the good news is that, behind all the daily political turmoil, the Senate is working on an agreement to forge a new energy future that will help our economy, promote energy independence and give us millions of new jobs.
We do have time to finish this important work -- and we can't afford not to.
President Barack Obama made it clear that new energy and climate policy goes hand in hand with our other priorities -- from jobs to national security to cutting the deficit. Now the action moves to the Senate. That's why Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is determined to move legislation forward. And it's why senators from both sides of the aisle are advancing proposals that can make this the year that the president signs comprehensive climate legislation into law.
Yet the professional pessimists tell a different story.
Those who reap benefits from the status quo are funding a stream of negative forecasting and denials of climate change science. But despite this well-financed effort to block progress, we are closer than ever to some real solutions.
Why is there hope and optimism that change may finally come now?
First, the scientific facts all point to the need for action today. Decades of research from thousands of scientists worldwide demonstrate that climate change effects are not only happening now but are also human-made. The selective interpretations of a few stolen e-mails can't change the fact that sea levels are rising, glaciers are melting and weather is becoming more extreme or that the hottest 10 years on record have all occurred since 1990. These are facts that demand action.
Second, we have now seen the early results of repowering America, and it is clear that the benefits are great. No matter where you live, you can see examples of a burgeoning clean energy economy. Companies are building solar power plants. Windmill farms are emerging. There are armies of U.S. engineers, contractors and laborers working to turn old buildings from "energy hogs" into more efficient homes and workplaces. There is leadership from our governors, mayors, legislatures and local elected officials across the country to save money and resources by investing in efficiency and innovation. What we need now is national leadership to drive this essential change to scale and to completion.
Third, and most important, the American public, even as it faces grave economic challenges, overwhelmingly supports action. Poll after poll shows that the public understands the fiscal potential of moving to a clean energy economy. Americans clearly know that by repowering our country, we can stop sending money overseas for foreign oil and invest it right here. It's time to unleash innovation and put in place policies that can create jobs, secure our energy independence and protect our public health -- and our planet's health -- for future generations.
We must step up and seize this moment -- like we have so many times before in our nation's history -- and lead the world to a new clean energy future. It's our time, and we are ready.
Maggie L. Fox is president and CEO of The Alliance for Climate Protection.
Cross-posted from Politico