A Strong Energy Bill Means a Strong Economy and Future

A Strong Energy Bill Means a Strong Economy and Future

Friday’s historic House vote brought together leaders from every region of the country and from a remarkably broad cross-section of the business, investor, environmental, labor and faith-based communities. We had carbon-emitting utilities holding hands with traditional green groups, workers joining forces with those directing trillions of dollars worth of investing power.

And that’s because all these groups saw the future. Possibly the most troubling aspect of the entire debate against this bill was the consistent omission by opponents of the costs of doing nothing -- the enormously high and disruptive costs of climate change that an overwhelming majority of the world’s best science tells us we will have to pay if we don’t act now.

Those costs dwarf the price of giving birth to America’s next economy, the clean energy economy, and I’d add one more point: Paying the far lower costs of launching that economy is a clear investment that will pay and pay again for our children and grandchildren. Paying to mitigate future climate-driven disasters is all good money after bad.

So this will go down as one of the most important votes of our era. Congress has taken a vital step toward launching the first national action plan to address climate change, and moving America down the vitally needed path to a new economy. Our nation’s workers, consumers, health and environment will all be the winners when this bill reaches final passage.

At the same time we recognize that this bill is just the start of an effective long-term climate and energy policy. So our work is not done. The underpinning of this bill is that all of its parts work best when working together, so we hope to see a strengthening of the bill’s energy efficiency and renewable energy standards -- which will make pollution-reduction targets less costly and ease impacts on consumers -- as it continues through the legislative process.
Ceres President Mindy S. Lubber Courtesy of Ceres
Across American history the politics of momentous issues have been difficult. But in this case especially both Republicans and Democrats must remember this: Though they can bargain with each other, in the end neither side can bargain with Nature if humans don’t do enough to prevent wide-scale climate disruption.

So we remind those who have so skillfully brought us this far both that the stakes are quite high and, happily, the strongest possible bill means the strongest possible economy, the cleanest possible environment, and the healthiest possible future for all Americans.

A globally competitive clean energy economy, the environmental benefits it brings and the enhanced security of less reliance on imported energy are a three-way win for America. Other nations are sprinting out of the starting gates to build this new economy, which is being born whether we join the race or not.

So let’s win by leading -- and set an example the world can follow on climate and clean energy policy into the bargain.

Mindy S. Lubber is president of Ceres, a leading coalition of investors, environmental groups and other public interest organizations working with companies to address sustainability challenges such as global climate change. Ceres launched and coordinates a new business coalition, Business for Innovative Climate and Energy Policy (BICEP), which includes Levi Strauss & Co., Nike, Starbucks, Sun Microsystems, Timberland, Aspen Skiing Company, Clif Bar & Company, eBay, Gap Inc., Jones Lang LaSalle, The North Face, Seventh Generation and Symantec.

"Flag" -- CC licensed by Flickr user Phil Romans.