Unfinished Business

Here is my posting on National Journal’s blog in response to Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid’s announcement Tuesday that Democrats will wait until to spring to debate climate legislation on the Senate floor:

Hope springs eternal, but the idea of waiting to “spring” for Senate action doesn’t fill me with hope. In 2010, the Senate will convene in January, not March. The Senate’s unfinished business on clean energy and climate should be on deck as the Senate’s highest priority after health care. Speaker Pelosi and the House worked impressively already this year to pass a clean energy jobs bill that puts America on a leadership pathway for reducing pollution and tackling climate change. When health care is done, the Senate needs to turn to the energy reform and climate package that Majority Leader Reid has put in motion. As we head into 2010, President Obama should make clear that delivering the clean energy jobs & climate bill to his desk is his top priority for unfinished business.

In the meantime, President Obama will send a team to the climate negotiations in Copenhagen. He has been an impressive leader on climate change in his first year — from tailpipe standards to a promising new dialogue with China. But Copenhagen and the coming months will be the pivotal test of whether he can break through the politics of inaction and the millions of dollars spent by oil companies and their allies to block progress. It is unlikely that the President will close the final deal on a new global agreement in December. More likely, he will prepare the way with an interim deal and ask the world to wait on Congress for the final package. If so, it will take a vigorous White House determination to move advance the bipartisan efforts being led by Senators John Kerry, Lindsey Graham and Joe Lieberman to the front of the line.

Americans have had enough delay. We can’t afford to wait and let clean energy jobs go to other countries ready to invest in clean energy. We can’t wait to break our addiction to oil. We can’t wait to take the responsible steps necessary to protect people and wildlife from a warming world.