DC drops the climate ball

This is a post by Daisy Pistey-Lyhne, ACE's Policy Liaison and Regional Managing Educator in Washington, D.C.

With all the news pointing toward the need to end America’s dependence on fossil fuels and keep climate change from heating up our planet even more, you’d think our leaders would be stepping up and taking take action, right?

Unfortunately, you’d be wrong. While some Senators have been stepping up to the ball, the chance of a cap on carbon emissions got snatched away last week, leaving these Senators looking more and more like Charlie Brown...

I hear the people talk. Yes sir and when you walk...

Senators have been walking around, talking for months about different ways to address the carbon emissions that are causing the climate to change. But on Friday, we got word that a group of Senators has decided to block the United States’ path forward in reducing carbon emissions and stopping climate change.

Up on Capitol Hill, the idea of reducing carbon emissions came knocking last year in the form of a bill addressing climate and energy. The House decided that it made sense to cap carbon emissions, and passed a bill in June last year to do this. Since then, and throughout the hottest spring and summer on record, Senators have been discussing solutions to this hot, hot heat. They brought forward lots of ideas, but none caught on.

Hold steady, Lucy

Since the big meeting in late June between President Obama and a group of 23 Democratic, Independent and Republican Senators, it seemed that a meaningful bill might actually make it to the President’s desk (the President signature turns all bills passed by Congress into law). Environmental groups, sportsmen, religious leaders, farmers, many business leaders, scientistsyoung people looking at a bleak future - all of these groups were optimistic that Congress would finally set our country on a legislative path toward a cooler future.

However, last week the Senate announced that it does NOT have the votes to pass a bill that would cap carbon emissions - the big leap forward that our nation needs to begin moving our economy toward a clean, green energy future. Just like Lucy holding out the football to Charlie Brown, a group of Senators has whisked away the possibility of meaningful climate legislation - a prank that likely will leave America’s future landing on its backside.

Instead, we will see the Senate vote on a limited bill addressing a few pieces of energy policy: holding oil companies responsible for oil spill damages, helping improve the energy efficiency of home appliances through HOMESTAR, investing in cars run on natural gas, and some expanded land and water conservation.

The power of a few voices

How have these Senators gummed up the works? Well, right now the Senate says that they need 60 votes to get a bill passed. (Why not just a 50 vote majority? Tune into the next blog for the answer!) And, unfortunately, there are 41 or more Senators standing against climate solutions.

This has tied the hands of those Senators who DO want to start cutting emissions and investing in cleaner sources of energy, like Senator John Kerry from Massachusetts (caught on film by ACE here). The Senate can't move forward if a few more Senators aren't willing to support policy action to cap emissions and cool the planet.

So, what can I do?!

If you want a cleaner, cooler future, it’s time to speak up NOW! Young people will deal with the impacts of climate change, so we have a lot on the line. You can write your Senator here to remind them that addressing climate change is the most important decision they may make in their lifetime... and that the futures of millions of America’s youth depend on it!