June 13, 2007
The Senate energy bill floor debate got off to a good start, as an Apollo Alliance-backed amendment sailed through on a voice vote, authorizing resources to train workers for high-skill, clean energy jobs.
This was a major theme of the recent Apollo Summit. While conservatives seek to prevent environmental progress by claiming it would hurt the economy, the reality is a clean energy economy creates millions of good-paying, sustainable jobs.
But to take advantage of the economic and environmental opportunities, we urgently need to invest in green-collar job training.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who introduced the amendment, put out a celebratory news release, quoting Apollo Alliance President Jerome Ringo:
Congress isn't ready to tackle the most critical piece of any comprehensive strategy to combat global warming, a cap on greenhouse gas emissions, though leaders have pledged to do so in this congressional session.
In turn, the Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid properly characterized the current bill as "just the first step. It is our roadmap, not our destination." (Similarly, The Des Moines Register said the bill's provisions "appear sound, but hardly visionary.")
But we don't know what the final bill will look like until the amendment process. As the The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Hill have detailed, lobbyists are out in force to weaken what's already just a first step.
And top Senate conservatives Mitch McConnell and Trent Lott are furiously mischaracterizing the bill on behalf of Big Oil, both saying the bill doesn't expand "energy production" and so it won't make us "secure."
Wrong. The bill as presently written doesn't expand oil production.
Washington conservatives may be surprised to know there are other kinds of energy besides oil, and they are expanded in the bill.
The bill also promotes energy efficiency to lessen our addiction to oil—and that addiction, which McConnell and Lott did nothing about when they were in charge, is why we're not "secure."
There'll be lots of twists and turns as the debate continues. We'll be staying on top of it, and making sure the lobbyists' voices aren't the only ones heard on the Senate floor.