Yesterday Senators Kerry, Lieberman, and Graham released a framework for the energy and climate legislation they are developing in the U.S. Senate. The release is intended to give President Obama an indication of the Senate’s plan for climate and energy legislation, in time for the international climate talks in Copenhagen that he’ll attend next week.
The good news: These Senators are co-sponsoring bipartisan climate and energy legislation that could have a shot of being voted through by the Senate, which is generally more conservative than the House.Our challenge: This framework comes up short on improving the environment and fighting global warming, and has no guarantee of access and opportunity in the clean-energy economy for communities that need it most. We need to put serious pressure on our Senators to call for stronger leadership on the climate and on quality green jobs creation.
The Senators underscored at a press conference that the broad 5-page framework is merely a starting point for discussion.Here’s a brief analysis of key aspects of the framework: Emissions target: The framework matches President Obama and the House of Representatives’ target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It says, “We believe a near term pollution reduction target in the range of 17 percent below 2005 emissions levels is achievable and reasonable, as is a long term target of approximately 80 percent below 2005 levels.” Many in the international community at Copenhagen are critical of this target, and rightly so, because it falls well short of the reductions we actually need in order to stabilize the climate and fight global warming. Dirty energy investment: The framework includes significant investments in dirty and unsafe energy, including offshore drilling, coal, and nuclear power. A section entitled “encouraging nuclear power” says, “additional nuclear power is an essential component of our strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.” “Ensuing a future for coal” is another key pillar of the framework.
America can’t drill and burn our way out of the climate crisis. These measures would simply reinvest in technologies that are proven to pollute our communities and poison our planet. There are plenty of clean energy sources in the United States, like wind and the sun, that could secure energy independence and reduce carbon pollution. Strong legislation must cut funding for fossil fuels, not increase it.Creating jobs:The framework includes strong language on creating American jobs. It mentions reviving American manufacturing and investments in energy-efficiency. As the broad framework becomes concrete legislation, it must include standards that ensure new jobs are good and accessible to everyday Americans. This means it must include Green For All’s key provisions to ensure opportunity for all: the Green Construction Careers Demonstration Project and Funding for the Green Jobs Act. So how can we make improvements on this framework, and get strong climate and energy legislation?
Senators Kerry, Lieberman, and Graham need to hear from us that leadership requires more than just passing a bill. It requires setting ambitious targets to reduce global warming. It requires significant investment in clean-energy technology, not subsidies for dirty and unsafe energy sources. And it requires providing opportunity through clean-energy jobs to all of America’s communities.The Senate will only step up their leadership if we demand better. Please take action today. Send your Senators an email using our tool. Please customize the message to share your specific concerns about the Kerry/Lieberman/Graham framework, and to call them to leadership. Our Senators have the opportunity to pass historic legislation that can change the future of the United States and the world. Let’s remind them we need them to be bold.