Americans Need Jobs: That's Why the Senate Will Vote on a Climate Bill

The National Journal recently asked if I thought the Senate would pass a clean energy and climate bill this year. Here are some of the thoughts I shared on the journal’s energy expert blog.

I think the odds are good that the Senate will pass clean energy and climate legislation. It will require a major push from the wide range of Americans who support the bill, but I believe it can happen.

Why? Because more and more people understand that it will make our economy stronger, and because more and more senators are hungry for policies that generate jobs. We simply can't put off the effort of getting our people back to work any longer.

Many of our leaders understand this. President Obama has repeatedly stated his commitment to a clean energy and climate bill. Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid has repeatedly stated his commitment to it. And the House of Representatives already passed a similar bill back in June.  
These lawmakers are responding to the business executives, labor unions, veterans, and other Americans who say our country needs the economic jumpstart that clean energy investment will provide. Many Senators realize that making buildings more efficient and manufacturing cleaner cars will generate real job opportunities in their home states.
On top of this support, the agreement reached in Copenhagen cleared a few hurdles out of the way of Senate action.
The Copenhagen Accord was adopted with dissent from just five countries out of 193 participants. The United States, China, India, Brazil, South Africa, Japan, Mexico and 181 other countries have pledged to take real action to reduce carbon emissions.
That's historic. It means Americans aren't being asked to act alone. That means something in the U.S. Senate.
At Obama's insistence, the agreement also provides for each country to report on its progress every two years. Those reports can be independently analyzed and reviewed, so we'll know when countries keep their promises. That matters, too, for every U.S. Senator.
More important, however, are the jobs to be created - nearly two million of them, a University of California study shows - through legislation that sets this country on the path to a clean and sustainable energy future. Perhaps that matters most of all to Senators eager to address Americans’ number one concern: the economy.
Still, getting the bill to Obama’s desk this year will be no easy task. It will require a tremendous amount of work to keep the bill in the spotlight and maintain its environmental performance as it moves through the legislative process. The bill's many supporters are already mobilizing for a tough battle.
Yet make no mistake: the time to pass this bill is now. Neither our planet nor our economy can afford delay.