By Barbara Kessler
Green Right Now
On this 40th Earth Day, many activists are reaching out to their constituents, urging them to make life changes, to reduce energy consumption, rethink paper use, install better light bulbs, donate to climate causes.
But mostly they want the American public to snap to attention and call the U.S. Senate.
Among those wanting to rattling the cages in D.C. is former Vice President and green evangelist Al Gore.
If the Senate “steps up and passes strong legislation, success will be within reach,” he told supporters of Repower America in an Earth Day email.
“But the forces of opposition are very powerful. And if we did nothing, we would fail – by falling prey to the cynicism of corporate lobbyists and the misinformation of self-serving politicians and pundits whose blatant disregard for scientific fact endangers us all,” he writes.
“So this Earth Day, I ask all of you to join together to take action to address climate change. Call your Senator at the number below and tell him or her to support comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation.
“Just call our toll-free Repower America hotline at 1-877-55-REPOWER (1-877-557-3769), and enter your zip code. You’ll be connected to one of your Senators….”
Gore also asks supporters to report their phone call to RePower so the group can track progress.
Once Earth Day did a great job of rallying the public around ways to clean the environment, he notes “But today, our task is even greater. Beyond careful stewardship of our natural resources, we must act to prevent a potential global catastrophe of unprecedented magnitude. We must aggressively respond to the threat of global climate change.”
The League of Conservation Voters also is asking supporters to lob in a call for action by signing the group’s Earth Day Declaration, which asks the Congress to act swiftly to enable a “clean energy revolution.”
When the Declaration campaign launched last month, The League of Conservation Voters’ president Gene Karpinski called for “Patriots” to act:
“For too long Big Oil and their special interest allies have stood in the way of a clean energy revolution. It’s time for lawmakers to listen to the millions of citizens who will recognize this Earth Day by demanding the Senate gets working to pass comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation. We need more Clean Energy Patriots this year. We need an Earth Day Revolution, not just another celebration.”
In a 40 day campaign leading up to the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day, being observed today, the LCV issued a list of 40 Reasons for the U.S. to have Clean Energy/Climate legislation.
Reason number1: Clean energy and climate policies will create 2 million American jobs.
Reason number 2: We can save more than it costs. Clean energy and climate policy will save American families an average of $900 a year by 2030.
While groups like the League and Repower are poking holes in the arguments against climate action — saying that it will not cost too much; that it will not disrupt the economic recovery — that may be only half the battle.
The pending legislation, known as the Lieberman-Kerry-Graham climate and energy bill (drafted by said Senators) is reputed to be so stuffed with concessions to fossil fuel industries that even environmentalists may be loath to support it. Progressive think tanks and groups are wary.
The Center for American Progress has put out an eye-opening blog, The Lieberman-Kerrry-Graham Climate Bill Could Make Matters Worse that warns the bill may be past the point of being just milquetoast.
“Environmental activists have long been prepared for a disappointing, compromise-ridden bill – but the common wisdom has always been “something is better than nothing.” The danger now is that this bill, as written, would actually do more harm than good,” write the group’s blog authors.
The bill, set for unveiling next week, reportedly sets a low bar for emissions targets and even undercuts federal regulatory powers, stripping the EPA’s powers to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.
Environmental leaders in other quarters are not unaware of the pitfalls with this particular legislative solution. Notice that Gore is calling for strong legislation and the League of Conservation Voters makes reference to the meaningful legislation it hopes to support.
Should the bill on the table turn out to be not so strong or meaningful, it’s anyone’s guess where matters go from here.
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