Today Congressmen Henry Waxman and Ed Markey released draft legislative language that could propel America into a clean energy future, cut global warming pollution, and create millions of jobs in the process. This is a welcome development, because even though President Obama has exhibited strong leadership on climate, America won't be able to confront global warming without decisive action from Congress.
The Waxman-Markey draft is a good starting point for the new Congress, and no doubt it will be debated and revised in the coming weeks. As chairman of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee, Representative Waxman is committed to passing a bill through his committee by Memorial Day, and Speaker Pelosi has promised a vote by the full House soon after. This is important, because time is short.
All the scientific data we have on global warming point toward the need for urgent action. Now the economic data is telling us the same thing. We need bold steps right now to pass a climate bill that will prevent the worse climate impacts and help power our economic recovery by generating billions of dollars in green energy investment and creating good-paying green jobs right here in America.
Energy production and use touches every aspect of our economy, and refashioning our energy system into something cleaner and more sustainable will generate economic growth all across the nation. This includes weatherizing our homes, building more efficient cars, building a smart electric grid, laying down public transit systems, and writing the software to engineer it all. It will require the work of engineers, automobile manufacturers, construction workers, software developers, architects, and hard-working Americans of all stripes.
Support is growing for this kind of clean transformation. From the oval office in the White House to the board rooms of the business-environmental coalition called the US Climate Action Partnership--including companies like GE, Duke Energy, and Alcoa --political and business leaders see the economic potential in tackling global warming and shifting to clean energy.
Just last Friday, a labor-environmental partnership--the Blue Green Alliance, made up of the United Steelworkers Union, the Communications Workers of America, Laborers' International Union of North America, and the Service Employees International Union, NRDC, and the Sierra Club--added its voice to those calling on Congress to pass a comprehensive climate law by the end of this year.
Action this year is critical. Our economy, our workers, and our environment need this kind of jumpstart. Why delay any longer before unleashing the benefits of a clean energy economy?
This post originally appeared on NRDC's Switchboard blog.