Yesterday the U.S. Senate decided to shelve efforts to pass comprehensive energy and climate change legislation. The reason? Sixty senators could not be convinced about the importance of this legislation and the dire need to end our addiction to dirty fossil fuels – not even when we have a coast covered in oil.
To say that I’m disappointed in this decision is a huge understatement. But sadly, I’m not surprised.
Although everyone agrees that the United States needs to move to clean energy, to create a cleaner and healthier environment, to develop a new economy that will create jobs and allow us to compete in the changing global market, nobody wants to make the tough decisions that will make that happen. Other countries are moving ahead with clean energy efforts – including China, which recently surpassed the U.S. to become the world’s biggest energy consumer. As a country, America needs to give up this “hunker down” mentality and become more innovative, aggressive and forward thinking.
Senate leaders have vowed to continue trying to pass this legislation, but neither the Senate nor the White House seems to have any urgency to do it right now. In about a week the Senate will go on their summer recess with this important task left unfinished. As senators spend time with their families and their constituents I hope that they will get away from partisan politics and think about what truly is best for our country in the long run.
The urgency to pass comprehensive energy and climate legislation needs to match the urgency of the crisis we are in. Change is never easy, and there will always be excuses not to act, but a society that doesn’t adapt is left behind.
Manuel Oliva is CI’s director of U.S. climate policy.