Senator Brown's victory has shuffled the deck on some issues, but it won't derail the bipartisan push for clean energy and climate legislation that will make our economy stronger and our country more secure. The stakes are too high for that, and too many Americans have told pollsters they want a clean energy future.
This has never been about partisanship: it's about doing what's right for the country - for American families, security and jobs. All of us are counting on both parties - Republicans and Democrats - to get this bill passed. Now we're counting on Senator Brown as well.
I believe the people of Massachusetts understand how important it is to invest in a sustainable energy future that will create 2 million jobs and make America the world leader in the market for clean energy technology that will drive global growth and bring prosperity home.
I believe they know how important it is for us to reduce our reliance on foreign oil, by building the next generation of energy efficient cars, homes and workplaces while developing wind, solar and other renewable power sources.
We have always known that creating this clean energy future would be a bipartisan effort.
Senators Kerry, Graham, and Lieberman have proposed a framework to build bi-partisan support for clean energy and climate legislation. More Republicans will join as the details of that framework get filled in.
Senator Graham explained his support for bipartisan action by saying, "We need a red, white and blue energy policy for America. It is in our own national security interests to achieve energy independence and curb our pollution problem. My primary goals remain clear: become energy independent, create American jobs and clean our environment."
Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told his fellow lawmakers today that comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation remains firmly on the Senate agenda:
“We will continue to create new jobs, including good-paying clean- energy jobs that can never be outsourced. We will tackle our daunting energy and climate challenges, and by doing so will strengthen our national security, our environment and our economy.”
And just last Sunday, President Obama said that climate change remains a priority for the country, as we face "a choice between standing with big oil or fighting for the clean energy jobs of the future ... a green energy economy that is freeing ourselves from dependence on foreign oil."
Graham, Obama, and Reid’s comments touch on precisely why climate action garners bipartisan support.
It will provide the economic jumpstart Americans are hungry for. Senators know that voters are growing tired of the rising unemployment rate and prolonged recession. They are looking to lawmakers for solutions, and clean energy and climate legislation provides them.
A clean energy and climate bill will unleash private investment in clean energy technology and generate millions of jobs now when our economy and workers need it most. That is why manufacturers like Alcoa, giant utilities like PG&E, and Fortune 500 companies like DuPont support the bill.
At the same time it grows our economy, climate legislation will also stabilize our national security. America’s leading defense and intelligence institutions, from the Pentagon to the CIA, have identified climate change as a security threat, and military leaders have repeatedly stated that our continued dependence on foreign oil puts American lives at risk. That is why servicemen and women, from retired Marine Corps four-star General Anthony Zinni and other top brass to the young veterans at Operation Free who have just returned from Iraq and Afghanistan, support the bill.
Indeed, poll after poll -- media, public and private -- have shown consistently high levels of support among the American people for climate change legislation. That is true across the nation, and it is true in Massachusetts as well.
Senator-elect Brown must now represent the citizens of Massachusetts. I congratulate Brown on his victory, and I hope he will be a constructive voice in the Senate, joining with Senator Graham and other Republicans to work on clean energy and climate in a bi-partisan fashion.
After all, invigorating our economy and preventing the worst impacts of climate change are aims that most Americans want to achieve, regardless of what party we belong to.