Two Steps Forward, One Step Back
At this point, it's anyone's guess whether the
Senate will take up climate and energy legislation this year: One day the
President highlights clean energy in the biggest speech of the year and Senator Lindsay Graham (R-SC) rejects "half-ass" energy bills, and the next day critics argue that such a controversial policy can't possibly
pass any time soon.
But as the climate clock ticks on, others in government are moving ahead using the strongest available
environmental laws. The Environmental Protection Agency is finally preparing to
implement its scientific finding that global warming pollution endangers our
health by regulating emissions under the Clean Air Act. It's an important step
to help ensure that the worst polluters limit their negative impact on human
and ecological health using the best available tools.
And yet, some in Congress are
trying to stop the EPA from moving ahead on climate; instead of cracking down
on polluters, these Senators and Representatives argue that the EPA is trying
to buck Congressional authority and hamper our economy in the process. But with
study after study showing that burning fossil fuels hurts our health and that
clean energy alternatives are an environmental and also an economic boon,
the EPA has both precedent and logic on its side.
And faith leaders across the
U.S. are speaking out,
alongside business leaders and environmentalists with a clear message: it's
time for the EPA to get to work, and for all of us to stand up for a strong
Clean Air Act.
Even as we fight for a more
sustainable energy future, the effects of environmental degradation are already
on view around the world. But pollsters find consistently that the overwhelming
complexity of climate science and the messy political process around clean
energy turns the public off from the issue.
That's why the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) launched
its new climate portal earlier this week. The online resource aims to engage
the American public in the conversation around climate with accessible facts
and figures, the latest climate news, and video testimonials.
When DC digs out from the snow
storm and gets back to its busy schedule later this month, there will be
limited time before the 2010 election season gets underway to tackle key issues
like health care, finance reform, and clean energy. But until we move forward
with new legislation, and as we continue to better understand our climate, let's
ensure that we don't take a step back by blocking enforcement of the laws that
have been central to protecting our environment and our health for decades.