It was more than six years ago when I stood on the floor of the House of Representatives to cast one of the most significant votes of my early Congressional career. My colleagues and I were about to pass the American Clean Energy and Security Act, sweeping energy reform legislation that would set new standards for energy efficiency, prioritize clean energy production, take steps to reduce carbon emissions, and help the United States transition to a clean energy economy.
At the time this was the most serious effort by the federal government to combat climate change, one of the defining issues facing current and future generations. Unfortunately, it was short lived because while legislation passed the House, it lacked the 60 votes needed in the Senate and effectively tabled for the foreseeable future.
Instead of listening to scientists and experts who say it is beyond time that we take action to curb the effects of climate change, Republicans in Congress have wasted years choosing to look the other way; protecting the interests of oil companies over the health and safety of the American public and the environment.
Luckily we've seen President Obama dedicate much of his second term to raising awareness on climate policy, and using his executive authority to advance a climate policy that sets levels for emissions standards, paired with investments in clean power to lay the foundation for the United States to get more of its energy supply from renewable sources while providing a positive economic benefit.
We stand at a pivotal moment when it comes to the climate crisis that threatens our health, economy, security and our way of life.
If our country is truly going to be a leader when it comes to advancing solutions, we will need to build on prior executive actions and have the courage to take them a step further. To do this, we will need a powerful voice in the White House with the experience and leadership to keep moving us in this direction.
That is one reason why I am supporting Hillary Clinton for the presidency.
As a scientist and renewable energy expert, whose work in wind energy contributed to saving the equivalent of approximately 30 million barrels of oil, or 8.3 million tons of carbon dioxide, I am familiar with the kind of bold leadership that is required to make a real impact. Hillary's drive, vision, and policy muscle make her the most qualified American today to lead this country in the fight to reduce emissions and turn the United States into a clean energy superpower.
Hillary is setting an aggressive, forward-thinking national energy agenda that aims to double down on the progress we've seen over the last several years.
Hillary's vision includes new levels of investment in renewable energy with the installation of more than half a billion solar panels across the nation at the close of her first term as president. She also aims for the United States to generate enough clean, renewable energy to power every American home within 10 years of her assuming the presidency. This sets the ambitious goal of having 33 percent of U.S. electricity come from renewable sources by the start of 2027.
Achieving these goals will set a new precedent for the nation's grid capacity to produce power from renewable sources through a mix of wind, solar, hydro, geothermal, and other sources of electricity. Boosting this capacity will reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, reduce air pollution, and dramatically cut down the thousands of asthma attacks and related deaths we see each year. Hillary's leadership will help our country chart a new path toward greater sustainability, energy independence, and a clean energy future.
Now, Hillary proposes to meet these goals by spurring American innovation through a clean energy challenge. One focus of this challenge will be transforming our nation's electric grid to bring it into the 21st Century.
I believe that modernizing our energy infrastructure and understanding our energy-water nexus is critical to the safety and security of our entire power system. We need to make improvements to the grid that strengthen its reliability and resilience, offer more consumer choice and value, and optimize it to meet the needs of a growing clean energy economy.
Hillary Clinton's commitment to a more sustainable energy future should not surprise anyone. In the U.S. Senate she championed policies to target polluters that endanger the air we breathe and the water we drink, and supported legislation to invest in more alternative energy sources that emit less carbon.
As Secretary of State, she prioritized climate and energy policy as key national security issues, which included diplomatically elevating climate change with China, and spearheaded a global initiative with over 100 countries and partners to reduce emissions -helping set the stage for the historic international climate accord agreed to in Paris by nearly 200 countries.
I have no doubt that Hillary Clinton will demonstrate the same level of determination, smarts, and collaboration as president to lead the United States toward greater energy security and a cleaner, healthier environment for us all.
Jerry McNerney is the Congressman representing California's 9th District.