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The Fix: Robert Redford Reflects on the Gulf Oil Disaster

Comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation could create 2 million jobs, cut 2 billion tons of pollution and save 2 trillion dollars.

But instead of passing a clean energy bill that will allow U.S. firms to compete in the rapidly expanding global clean tech industry, Senators left for recess without voting to curb the most pressing environmental challenge of our time -- climate change.

We cannot wait any longer to put our nation on a path to cleaner energy.

Americans support these goals. And we are looking to our Senators to pass legislation that will create jobs and cut pollution.

Comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation must do four things:

  • Promote investment in energy efficiency as well as wind, solar and other renewable sources of power.
  • Set a cap on the carbon pollution that is contributing to climate change.
  • Complement, not discard, existing state and federal efforts to reduce carbon emissions. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency has the authority to regulate carbon pollution under the Clean Air Act. And governments in a number of states have taken action already to protect their citizens from rising levels of carbon. Federal legislation should complement these efforts, not compromise them.
  • Provide the leadership we need to support international efforts to deal with climate change -- real carbon reductions, preserving forests around the world and aid for the poorest and most vulnerable people on earth in coping with the ravages of climate change.

These are the cornerstones of a successful bill that will make our economy stronger and our country more secure. Oil and coal companies are expected to spend millions lobbying to protect their profits and keep the United States dependent on polluting energy sources. The oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico graphically demonstrates the dangers of our dependence on fossil fuels.

Rising global temperatures, even at the lower end of predicted ranges, could cause extensive melting of sea ice and glaciers, widening desertification, sea level rise and other changes that could be potentially devastating for the United States, our economy and people around the world. This year alone, smokestacks and tailpipes worldwide will pump a record 33 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the air, most from the burning of coal, oil and gas. The United States can't wait any longer to curb emissions, reduce our dependence on oil and develop clean energy technologies.

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