Oregon can't wait for federal action on energy

Climate change: Federal legislation falls apart

Last week, the Senate announced that the clean energy bill was circling the drain. Living in Oregon, I sometimes feel so far away from Washington DC and national politics that it’s frustrating. I was in Washington DC last month for the national  League of Conservation Voters Annual Lobby Day.  It was a great time, and the highlight was Senator John Kerry’s speech at our dinner. The room was full of so much passion and hope that we could pass comprehensive climate change legislation by the end of this year. Even from here, I can feel the collective sense of deflation from the Beltway.

Deep down, I am not shocked by Congress's inability to pass this legislation. There’s no doubt that big oil, big coal, their army of lobbyists and their partners in
Congress are cheering the obstruction that blocked Senate action on clean energy and climate legislation.

For a long time, opponents of sound environmental protection addressing anything from greenhouse gases to toxics have argued that we should wait for the feds. But how long do we have to wait? The failure of the energy bill is the latest in a long list of examples that prove we simply cannot afford to wait. Oregon has an opportunity right now to reap the benefits of a clean energy economy that will create stable jobs for working Oregonians and decrease our dependence on foreign fossil fuels.

Though Oregon is already a leader in clean tech and green jobs creation, we still have much left to do.  The Oregon Conservation Network is in the process of selecting its “Priorities for a Healthy Oregon” for the 2011 Legislative session. Many members of OCN are working hard to design legislation and form strong coalitions that will support innovative energy policy that can create local jobs while protecting our state from the effects of climate change at the same time. The looming budget crisis only makes these proposals that much more important--it defines a reason to act.

Of course, solid laws start with electing solid candidates. Check out OLCV Executive Director Jon Isaacs' post on Blue Oregon about the failure of federal energy policy and its implications on Oregon's important November election.

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