White House Meeting with Senators Builds Momentum for Climate Action

Today, President Obama met with a bipartisan group of more than a dozen senators to discuss passing comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation. It is yet another sign that momentum for climate action is building and that our leaders are engaged in the hard work of moving legislation forward.

And yet some naysayers continue to claim that clean energy and climate legislation is on life support. I am reminded of the famous Mark Twain quote: “the reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.”

There is far too much activity on climate legislation to declare it moribund. As today’s meeting illustrates, President Obama is actively trying to push clean energy and climate solutions forward. He invited a mix of strong climate leaders from both parties and key fence-sitters as well, and he is no doubt trying to find common ground between the two.

Meanwhile, senators are continuing to draft new climate bills. In addition to Senators Cantwell and Collins recent proposal, Senators Kerry, Graham, and Lieberman will likely release their clean energy and climate bill any day.

None of these White House meetings or senate bills would occur for a dead issue. But similar activities surround nearly every piece of major legislation before it passes.

These senators who met with President Obama recognize that something needs to be done to set this country on the course toward energy security and prosperity. If they weren't serious about taking action, they wouldn't have been invited to the White House.

Obama didn't require these senators to pledge votes up front. He knows that's not how good legislation gets made. He did want to make sure, though, to have a bipartisan group that could hammer out a set of workable measures that have the support needed to pass the Senate.

Seated around Obama in the Cabinet Room were a number of his former Senate colleagues who well understand the stakes.

Senator Lugar, a Republican, was present. Lugar has been a leader on nearly every major piece of bipartisan legislation since he entered the Senate. Lugar has recognized for years that climate change is making the world a more dangerous place. Now he understands that clean energy means real jobs for Indiana steelworkers, real benefits for Indiana farmers and real improvement in energy security for Americans everywhere.

Senator Sherrod Brown, a Democrat, was also in attendance. He knows there are already thousands of people at work in Ohio in companies that manufacture bearings, electric coils, gears and 80 other components that go into making wind turbines, the kind of technology this legislation will promote.

I’m betting they all know what Senator Graham, a Republican, means, when he says we need "a red, white and blue" climate and energy policy that strengthens our economy and makes our country more secure.