Clean Energy Bill Released: Now It’s Time for Leadership

Today, Senator Kerry and Senator Lieberman released comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation. The bill provides a good starting point, and we look forward to working with Senator Majority Leader Reid and President Obama to build on this foundation without delay to deliver legislation that puts Americans back to work, reduces our dependence on oil, and creates a healthier future for our children.

We need that legislation now more than ever. As the Deepwater Horizon disaster continues to unfold with tragic consequences, it has become painfully clear that America needs a safer, cleaner approach to energy development. Congress must enact a comprehensive clean energy and climate bill this year that puts America back in control of our energy situation.

This draft legislation gets us moving in the right direction.

It is too soon to say where NRDC stands on every aspect of the bill. As I write this, NRDC experts are combing through the document, and I imagine they will discover things in it that NRDC likes and things we don’t. Here's where we stand on what we've seen so far.

  • The bill’s core carbon pollution limits are solid. These emission limits get tighter every year and will drive investments in clean energy that create jobs, cut pollution, and end our addiction to oil from dangerous locations, both offshore and overseas.  
  • The bill would be more effective if its overall pollution limits were backed up by minimum performance standards for the largest polluters. We will work to strengthen the bill to preserve more of the Clean Air Act's proven approach to cutting air pollution.
  • The bill must not create incentives for offshore oil drilling or push forward drilling before we understand the risks involved for specific areas.  The current Presidential moratorium does not go far enough, and does not, for example, stop the drilling planned for this summer in Alaska.
  • The subsidies for nuclear power in the draft bill are excessive and the proposed weakening of safety and environmental licensing reviews is ill-advised. NRDC will oppose these provisions.
  • The energy efficiency and forest protection provisions should be more robust, and NRDC will work to strengthen these provisions as the process moves forward.

Senators Kerry and Lieberman have done a remarkable job of building the foundation for clean energy and climate action and overall, I believe the bill is a good start. But to realize the promise of the bill, we need leadership from the top.

We need President Obama and Majority Leader Reid to guide a process that brings Senators of good will from both sides of the aisle together around a comprehensive clean energy and climate bill--one that draws on the best elements of this bill as well as other proposals so the Senate can pass effective legislation without delay.

This is the kind of solution Americans are looking for. According to a new poll conducted by Belden, Russonello & Stewart for NRDC, seven in ten American say it’s time to fast-track clean energy legislation that begins to break our dangerous addiction to oil by increasing our use of sustainable and renewable power and fuels.

NRDC will work to build on today’s proposal to achieves these clean energy results. Done right, a comprehensive bill could create nearly 2 million jobs for American workers-- good-paying jobs coast to coast that can't be shipped overseas.

It could slash our reliance on dirty oil, thereby protecting marine life and coastal communities from future offshore oil disasters. It could position America to dominate the global clean energy market, which is expected to attract $230 billion in annual investment by 2020. And it will strike a blow against the most pressing environmental challenge of our time --climate change.

By promoting the development of the next generation of energy efficient cars, homes and workplaces, this legislation will put us, as a nation, back on track for growth.

But we need our leaders to pass the bill this year, so that Americans can start reaping these rewards as soon as possible.