The Energy Bill

Post from Jeremy Symons, Executive Director, National Wildlife Federation’s Global Warming Campaign, guest blogger:

Larry, at long last, the president has signed an energy bill! As you know, the energy bill President Bush signed yesterday came after the U.S. House approved it Tuesday, 314-100. This is an important moment for National Wildlife Federation and the work we have all been doing. Consider:

– In 2001, the Cheney energy task force introduced an energy plan focused on drilling and building new coal plants. You will recall Vice President Cheney’s infamous statement: "Conservation may be a sign of personal virtue, but it is not a sufficient basis for a sound, comprehensive energy policy." As you know, I worked on the Cheney Task Force on behalf of the Environmental Protection Agency before leaving and coming to National Wildlife Federation, and I can assure you that the remarkable turnaround in the White House position on fuel economy would not have happened without dramatic transformation of public opinion and the political landscape. The list of issues where this White House had made a 180 degree turnaround over the past 7 years is very short indeed.

– 314 House members supported this energy bill. In 2005, only 177 House members supported Rep. Markey’s CAFE proposal, which was very similar to what the president will sign.

– 86 Senators supported this energy bill in final form. In 2005, only 28 Senators supported a CAFE amendment by Sen. Durbin that was similar to this bill.

This transformation bodes well for our efforts to get bold, comprehensive measures on climate change, like the Lieberman-Warner bill, enacted. But the successful efforts of some senators to block key provisions last week, and the lengthy process to deliver this bill, warn that we still have many hurdles ahead.

FYI, here’s the link to my interview on The News Hour with Jim Lehrer on Tuesday talking about the energy bill.

Published: December 20, 2007