Counting the Votes

The Senate may now be less than a month from taking up the Climate Security Act and having its first ever votes on a comprehensive global warming bill that reduces emissions to levels scientists have called for. Because of the Senate’s supermajority rules, we’ll need 60 votes to win key amendments and possibly even proceed to the bill’s consideration. We’re obviously working every day to get a better handle on who is with us, against us and still on the fence. But it’s a mistake to assume much at this point. Our challenge now is less about counting votes than it is about counting letters, phone calls, emails and letters to the editor.

The simple fact is we need a groundswell of pressure to ensure that key Senators ultimately vote our way. Two quick examples of where pressure is needed: Democrat Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Republican John Sununu of New Hampshire. Today Brown, who has a stellar environmental voting record, was quoted in the Cleveland Plain Dealer saying, "I have serious concerns about any climate-change bill that doesn’t take into account energy-intensive industries like we have in Ohio — glass and chemicals and steel and aluminum and foundries."

For his part Senator Sununu, whose father infamously obstructed climate change action as White House Chief of Staff, seems to be hoping the issue will just go away. In last Wednesday’s Manchester Union Leader Senator Sununu wrote an entire op-ed piece touting his environmental record without so much as mentioning global warming.

To successfully enact meaningful global warming legislation we need both their votes. And they clearly need to hear from their constituents who care about this issue. For Senator Brown, he needs to get the message that the Climate Security Act is about ensuring that American industry is at the forefront of clean energy technologies and that Ohio is an engine for the new economy. For Senator Sununu he needs to hear more about how this is not only the most important environmental issue of our generation it’s one of the most important issues of our time.

– Adam Kolton, Director Congressional and Federal Affairs, National Wildlife Federation

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