Tag Archives: green jobs

Why should you take a moment to support CMED?

by Kevin Singer, Communications Coordinator, Californians for Responsible Economic Development

In 2011 alone, California produced a grand total of approximately 200 million barrels of oil and 230 billion cubic feet of natural gas, making our state the fourth largest producer of oil and the tenth largest producer of natural gas in the country. Yet, despite this, California does not get a dime for the resources that are extracted from our state and sold on the global market. This is because, unlike every other major oil and natural gas producing state in the nation, California has not enacted an extraction fee on the energy that is taken right from under our feet.

Let’s think about this for a moment. California, the ninth largest economy in the world, is ranked 43rd in the country in terms of K-12 spending per pupil. The University of California, the flagship public university system of the nation, has seen a 14% decrease in funding since 2010. And at a time when a quality college education has never been more important, tuition is skyrocketing, making a diploma unaffordable for an increasing number of young Californians. Meanwhile, at 9.8% unemployment, even those who have graduated from college find themselves without work or working at jobs they are tremendously over-qualified for. The appalling disrepair of our municipal infrastructure only discourages employers from bringing more jobs to our state. But our state government has its hands tied behind its back. The $250 billion dollar state debt all but assures that there will be no additional funding for education and infrastructure in the near future.

And we are giving away our oil and natural gas. We have the wealth to fund the investments that California needs and deserves and we are giving it away. This is to say nothing of that fact that by not charging an extraction fee on oil and natural gas, our state, which prides itself as a leader of reducing CO2 emissions, is not putting a price on the CO2 that eventually makes its way into the atmosphere. To say this is ridiculous would be an understatement. It is an outrage.

The California Modernization and Economic Development Act (or CMED) would put an end to it. By implementing a modest 9.5% extraction fee on oil and natural gas (Alaska, hardly an enemy of big oil, has implemented a fee of 24% on oil and natural gas that’s extracted from the state), CMED would raise between 2 and 2.5 billion dollars in revenue for California. A little more than half, 1.2 billion dollars, would be allocated in four equal parts for K-12, California Community Colleges, Cal State Universities, and the University of California for the purposes of increasing quality and restoring tuition to 2010 levels. 400 million dollars will be used to support small businesses by aiding their transition to cheaper, carbon-free and carbon-reduced forms of energy, which would in turn empower them to expand, hire additional workers, and reinvest. An additional 300 million dollars would be apportioned to the general funds of California County Governments for the purpose of upgrading and better maintaining municipal infrastructure, funding the conservation of regional park land and providing a multitude of other public services.

These are more than investments, they constitute a complete vision for responsible economic development in California. Making that vision a reality is as easy as ending the giveaway of our oil and natural gas, but it’ll take a popular movement if we truly want to realign the policies in Sacramento with the wishes and desires of Californians. Simply by taking a few moments, right now, and visiting www.cmedact.org, liking our Facebook, following us on Twitter, telling your friends or donating anything you can, even $5, you can provide the crucial grassroots support we need. It’s that easy. You could be the difference between failing to qualify and qualifying CMED on the 2014 ballot, so that Californians can have a chance to pass it democratically.

We can do this California, but not without your support. If you think it’s ridiculous that we are giving away our oil and natural gas at a time when California is more cash-strapped than ever, join our cause. It won’t be easy, but together we will qualify and pass the California Modernization and Economic Development Act and put our state back on the right track.

Prop 39 Sets Up Fight for Green Energy Dollars

Clean energy projects to get almost $3B over five years

by Brian Leubitz

UPDATE: Senator Kevin de León, who is sponsoring legislation  that would implement the school green retrofitting plan, is working with Tom Steyer, Prop 39’s main backer. They launched a website that offers more information on the plan. With the support of the governor and a strong group of legislators, the school plan seems to be the likeliest outcome. However, the LAO criticism may make other options or a compromise possible. SB 39, and a similar bill in the Assembly (AB 39), will likely get some priority towards a quick passage that would make implementation as smooth as possible as the money starts coming in.

They had a press conference and made a 20 minute video of it. Enjoy!

Last November’s Prop 39 has two major aspects, one of which helped it rack up 61% of the vote. But let’s start a few years back, 2009 to be exact. In that year’s GOP budget hostage situation, the Republicans extracted a new tax loophole, allowing corporations to choose one of two tax treatments. It allowed those large multistate operations to save over a billion dollars annually, and thus, to shortchange our general fund a billion dollars annually.

In 2010, a labor backed measure, Proposition 24 attempted to close this newly created loophole. However, relatively few resources were directed at the measure, and it couldn’t overcome the anti-tax groups attacks.  That brings us to Tom Steyer and Prop 39. Steyer, a very wealthy venture capitalist, saw an opportunity to create good green jobs in California while closing this loophole. The measure permanently closes the so-called “single-sales factor” loophole, and dedicates about half of those revenues to green energy projects.  However, the measure wasn’t exactly clear as to where that money would go. The specifics were left to the people who are supposed to appropriate money, you know, those people that we hire to run our government, the legislature and the governor.

But, now there is this post of about $500 million (or more) annually to be directed to energy projects, and disbursing that was never going to be easy. Jerry Brown has a plan, however. Basically, noting his belief that the money should be counted under Prop 98’s educational funding requirements, he is calling for the money to be spent entirely on retrofitting schools for energy efficiency. He gets to count it for Prop 98, and everybody’s happy. Right?

Well, being that this is still California governance, nothing is ever so easy. The goal of retrofitting schools is certainly laudable, and will help redirect energy savings to the classroom (hopefully). However, in pure energy savings alone, there are other state institutions that could gain more from the efficiency upgrades, such as public hospitals and other buildings open 24 hours a day. But the Prop 98 impacts are difficult for somebody putting together a budget to ignore.

The LAO, however, has a different take.

Legally, the analyst’s office says the governor’s plan invites manipulation of the state constitutional guarantee by counting the funds toward school operating budgets. The analyst’s office says that approach marks “a serious departure” from how it interprets the state constitution, a view that the office says it “developed over many years with guidance from Legislative Counsel.” Additionally, the analyst’s office says it departs from what voters were told last year.

Brown’s Department of Finance disagrees. It says that because the money is paid by corporations into the state general fund, schools have a claim on it. … “Our proposal reflects the fact that education continues to be the top priority of the governor’s budget,” Director of Finance H.D.] Palmer said. He added that past budget cuts “took their toll not only on classroom instruction dollars but physical upkeep as well.” ([SacBee)

The LAO advocates putting the money through the California Energy Commission, in some sort of competitive process between public agencies.

This conversation is really just getting started, but tossing school finance in the process means that we’ll likely get some greener schools with a side of legislative controversy.

Recycling => Reinvigorating the Economy

 Cross-posted from the CA League of Conservation Voters (CLCV) blog, Groundswell.

A report recently released by the BlueGreen Alliance“More Jobs, Less Pollution”– makes a new case for recycling.  Often cited by people as the easy “green” thing to do in our lives, it now turns out that recycling plays an important role in helping our economy rebound.

The more we work to divert our waste from landfills and towards recycling and re-using, the more people we will employ.  After all, it takes many hands to sort and reform glass, plastics, paper, and other materials.   

During the recent California legislative session, CLCV helped to pass Assembly Bill 341 (Chesbro).  AB 341 will create new green jobs in California by expanding recycling to every multi-family dwelling and business, and mandating that the state recycle at least 75% of the garbage that it generates by 2020.

AB 341 is another great example of California taking the lead on important environmental issues.  More Jobs, Less Pollution describes the impressive economic and environmental benefits that would result if the federal government were to follow California’s lead:

Achieving a 75 percent diversion rate for municipal solid waste (MSW) and construction and demolition debris (C&D) by 2030 will result in:

  •  A total of 2.3 million jobs: About 2.7 times as many jobs as exist in 2008.
  • Lower greenhouse gas emissions: The reduction of almost 515 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (eMTCO2) from diversion activities, an additional 276 million eMTCO2 than the Base Case, equivalent to shutting down about 72 coal power plants or taking 50 million cars off the road.
  • Less pollution overall: Significant reductions in a range of conventional and toxic emissions that impact human and ecosystem health.
  • Unquantified benefits of reducing ecological pressures associated with use of non-renewable resources, conserving energy throughout the materials economy, and generating economic resiliency through stable, local employment.

Sadly, many recycling programs around the nation don't even come close to being as rigorous as the one that California is setting up via AB 341.  The good news is that with our state taking the lead on yet another environmental issue, we provide a successful blueprint for the rest of the country.  California is known as a trend setter for a reason, and this time it can be with how we handle our waste.

Want to get involved? TAKE ACTION: Check out BlueGreen Alliance's action alert asking President Obama to support a more aggressive recycling agenda modeled after California's.

Broad (and Bi-partisan) Support for Clean Energy and Green Job Creation

BERKELEY (March 29, 2011) – In a bold move to bolster one of the few bright spots in California’s economy and set a precedent for strong renewable electricity standards nationwide, the California Legislature today approved a bill that would require utilities in the state to obtain at least 33 percent of their electricity from clean, renewable sources, such as the wind and sun, by 2020.  

Promoted by the governor and legislative leaders in both houses as part of a green jobs stimulus package, the bill would create the most aggressive renewable energy requirement in the country and position California as a national leader in clean energy investments.  

“Today’s vote is not just a victory for California’s economy and environment, but for the entire nation,” said Laura Wisland, an energy analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), the leading national nonprofit organization providing economic, technical and policy analysis of renewable electricity standards.  “Transitioning toward more clean, renewable electricity sources means cleaner air, healthier communities, and a stronger green economy.”

Introduced by State Sen. Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto), the bill (SBX1 2) garnered the backing of a broad range of electric utilities, ratepayer groups, environmental organizations and renewable energy businesses. UCS advised the  bill authors, and played a lead role to build support for the bill as it made its way through the Legislature.

UCS also has been involved in coalition efforts to enact clean energy standards in other states and at the federal level.

California’s current law, the Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS), required privately owned utilities in the state to obtain 20 percent of their energy from renewable sources by 2010.  UCS estimates that with the 33 percent RPS law in place, California will be responsible for more than 25 percent of the renewable energy generated by state standards across the country in 2020.  The amount of heat-trapping global warming emissions that would be displaced as a result of the 33 percent RPS would be equivalent to removing nearly 3 million cars from the road.

UCS is expecting California Gov. Jerry Brown to sign the bill, given statements he made during his campaign last year.

Dan Kalb, UCS’s California policy manager, said the new standard would be a boon for the state economy.  “A strong 33 percent renewables standard in statute would give renewable energy developers the market the certainty they need to raise money to build their projects in California,” he said.  “With the governor’s signature, this bill will create new clean energy jobs, strengthen our economy, and reduce harmful heat-trapping emissions that cause global warming.”

Wisland said that the federal government should follow California’s lead.  “Once again, California has demonstrated national leadership in advancing clean energy,” she said. “Now it’s Congress’s turn to act.” Such a move by federal legislators has widespread public support, she added. A February Gallup poll found that 83 percent of Americans favor Congress passing a bill that would provide incentives for renewable energy.

For more information on the California RPS, see the UCS fact sheet, “California Renewable Electricity Standard.”

Perez and Steinberg Announce Clean Energy Jobs Initiative

(Cross-posted from Groundswell, the California League of Conservation Voters blog.)

This morning Assembly Speaker John Pérez and Senate President pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg announced the Clean Energy Jobs Initiative, a package of four bills that focus on green jobs and clean energy growth.

Why the focus on green jobs? You might remember that a couple weeks ago I reported on a report by nonpartisan think-tank Next 10 that shows green jobs in California growing more than three times faster than overall state employment. During this time of economic recession and high unemployment in California, it makes sense for our legislative leaders to focus on the job sector that's growing relatively rapidly.

From the press release, the four bills in the package are:

  • 33% Renewable Portfolio Standard (Sen. Joe Simitian): This measure requires both public and private energy providers to procure 33 percent of California’s electricity from renewable resources (wind, solar, geothermal, etc.) by 2020.
  • Streamlined Siting for Renewable Energy Projects (Assembly Member V. Manuel Pérez): This measure reduces red tape, expediting the siting and construction of renewable energy projects throughout California.
  • Career Technical Education (Senator Darrell Steinberg): This measure aligns high school curriculum with high-demand jobs in emerging markets. Grant funding would be provided to high schools for delivering the skills and knowledge students need for successful employment in clean energy field. Such curriculum restructuring will also encourage students to stay in school because they’ll know they’re gaining real-world skills from their studies.
  • Economic Incentives to Increase Energy Efficiency (Assembly Member Nancy Skinner): This bill would use a portion of state ratepayer funds to provide loan guarantees for residents and small business owners investing in energy efficiency and renewable technologies on homes and commercial property. Reducing loan risk also reduces loan interest rates, increasing demand for energy improvements which in turn increases production and the jobs that come with it.   


CLCV is excited to see the leaders of both houses focusing on the environment. We have not yet fully reviewed the proposed legislation so we're reserving comments on most of the package details.

The one bill we wholeheartedly support is Senator Simitian's 33% Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) bill. We've been working on this issue for years because a 33% RPS would have huge environmental and economic impacts, including:

  • displacing nearly 13 million metric tons of global warming emissions in 2020—equivalent to removing almost 3 million cars from the road, or enough to avoid 10 to 15 new large fossil fuel power plants;
  • stimulating clean technology investment and innovation, and creating “green collar jobs;”
  • diversifying the state’s energy supply and protecting consumers from natural gas price volatility;
  • helping to meet our pollution cap under the Global Warming Solutions Act, AB 32;
  • promoting long-term planning for infrastructure needed to support high levels of renewable energy development; and
  • improving air quality in vulnerable communities.

Thanks to Speaker John Pérez and President pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg for continuing to lead on building a greener California. We look forward to working with them on this package and to passing RPS legislation in 2011!

California Green Jobs Growth Outpaces Rest of the Economy

(Cross-posted from Groundswell, the California League of Conservation Voters blog.)

Today a report was issued by our friends at nonpartisan think-tank Next 10 that shows green jobs in California growing more than three times faster than overall state employment.

It wasn't so long ago that Texas oil companies and other supporters of Proposition 23 (the Dirty Energy Proposition on the November 2010 ballot) were arguing that California's landmark clean energy policies needed to be suspended because enforcement would stunt the state's economic recovery. Next 10's report shows just the opposite: The green job sector is leading the state in economic growth.

The report shows that between 1995 and 2009, green jobs expanded from 111,000 to 174,000, growing 56 percent. And this growth is happening across the state and across multiple job sectors.

The Bay Area and the Sacramento Area led the state in green job growth, expanding by 109% and 103% respectively since 1995. Job growth hasn't been confined to Northern California though – green jobs grew in Orange County by 67% and the San Joaquin Valley by 55%.

From 1995 to 2009, the energy generation sector created the most green jobs, adding nearly 20,000 jobs across the state, including almost 3,000 jobs from January 2008-2009, at the height of the economic recession.

 And while some sectors declined in the overall California economy, they grew in the green economy. Manufacturing stands out. Although manufacturing has declined in the state, green manufacturing jobs increased 10% from January 2008-2009.

The report's worth reading in full, as it breaks down numbers by region, sector, and more. Plus, it features lots of colorful graphs that make the numbers easier to digest, like this one:

Green job growth by sector

It's clear from this report that green jobs are growing in importance to California's economy. Thanks to California voters, the overwhelming defeat of Prop 23 will keep the Golden State on a path that leads not to economic decline, but to job growth.

BP’s Efforts to Shape Curriculum in American Schools

By Matt Howes

Originally posted on The MarkUp.

The Sacramento Bee reported yesterday that “BP, the energy giant responsible for the largest offshore oil spill in history, helped develop [California’s] framework for teaching more than 6 million students about the environment.”

That’s right; the same people who brought you the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster are helping to shape the education of millions of students. In fact, the environmental education curriculum will be used in “kindergarten through 12th-grade classes in more than 1,000 school districts statewide.”  

The thought of BP – or any big oil company – playing a role in designing education on environmental issues makes me very nervous. In California, we’ve got Texas oil companies spending millions of dollars trying to kill our landmark clean energy and climate law. That’s bad enough; we certainly don’t need a British oil company writing our kids’ education materials.

Dollie Forney, a mother of three from San Jose said, “This is outrageous. Now our schools and officials are so cash-strapped and unimaginative and desperate we are allowing Big Oil to write our children’s curriculum? ”

The fact is, over the years, BP has rightly earned the title of having “the worst safety and environmental record of any oil company operating in America.” Of course, that’s not much of an honor, especially when you consider how BP came by its miserable environmental reputation. This includes being slapped with “the two largest fines in OSHA history — $87.43 million and $21.36 million — for willful negligence that led to the deaths of 15 workers and injured 170 others in a March 2005 refinery explosion in Texas.” BP also “agreed to pay a $50 million fine and plead guilty to a felony violation of the Clean Air Act, and was fined “a total of $21 million for manipulating the California electricity market, Enron-style.”

It’s not a pretty picture. All of which raises the question, why would anyone even think of giving this company a say in designing education materials on the environment, of all topics? As Lisa Graves of the Center for Media and Democracy says, “I’d hate to see how a section in future textbooks mentioning the BP oil spill will look.”  

On (Not) Making it in America

When I attended Netroots Nation last week, I didn’t need to drive the streets of Las Vegas to see the abandoned worksites, boarded up buildings, and closed factories. I can see that in my own district. Too many of us are not making it in America.

Congressional Democrats responded with a two-step approach. In the first half, we sought to stabilize the economy, rein in Wall Street, provide lifelines to families in freefall, and immediately put Americans back to work. We’re now nearing the second half, where our job creation strategies must be complemented by a long term commitment to bring back American manufacturing.

In California, Nevada, and across the nation, people out of work through no fault of their own outnumber new jobs available. Five people are out of work for every one job available. The Great Recession led to widespread job loss, and without a new approach to economic development, good manufacturing jobs will continue to be shipped overseas. If we don’t make it in America, we won’t make it America.

Continued infrastructure improvements, small business investments, and unemployment benefits extensions are helping turn our economy around, but we haven’t done enough. In the short term, we must continue investing in our economy to prevent a double dip recession.

The newly-minted Republican deficit hawks who supported President Bush’s unfunded tax cuts for the super wealthy and continue to support the longest war in U.S. history in Afghanistan (also not paid for) now insist that we can’t afford job creation and jobless benefits for out-of-work Americans. They don’t mind creating $11 trillion in deficits under the watch of the previous administration, but they’re all too willing to preach austerity to the unemployed on the verge of complete destitution. This economic approach is morally repugnant and empirically unsound.

As Mark Zandi, Senator John McCain’s Economics Advisor and Chief Economist for Moody’s Analytics, explains, there are basically two types of very effective pro-growth strategies in a downturned economy. The first provide immediate relief to the vulnerable, including food assistance for working families ($1.74 in GDP growth for every $1 invested) and unemployment benefits ($1.61 for every $1 spent). The second provide, protect, and nurture long term improvements, including infrastructure investments ($1.57 for every $1 spent) and aid to states to keep teachers, firefighters, and other public servants on the job ($1.41 for every $1 spent). Meanwhile, keeping the Bush tax cuts for the rich permanent ($0.32 recovered for every $1 wasted) would harm struggling families and the economy.

Additional stimulus is essential, but without new policies that bring back good manufacturing jobs, we’re only patching the Titanic. To thrive in the 21st century, we must “Make it in America”. Manufacturing matters.

I’ve introduced three bills to bring back manufacturing. The first, based on language in the American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act, closes $14.5 billion in corporate tax loopholes that reward the off-shoring of jobs, and I’m happy to report that a good small business bill likely to pass the House today utilizes this language as a cost offset. The second ends taxpayer subsidies for foreign-produced clean energy technology. The third ends taxpayer subsidies for foreign-produced buses, railcars, and ferries.

When we have so many welders, engineers, mechanics, electricians, technicians, and carpenters out of work, it doesn’t make sense to ship our tax dollars overseas. When we’re in the middle of a global clean tech race, it hurts our national security to use taxpayer dollars to pay for things that can be built here. It just makes sense to make it in America.

The House Democratic Caucus is introducing a number of “Make it in America” bills targeting different parts of our tax code, trade policy, grants policy, exports strategy, small business development, and more.   A few highlights are available on the Majority Leader’s website, but many other bills are in development. The ultimate goal for this pooling of good ideas is to create a Green Industrial Revolution in America.

It was a pleasure to see some of you at Netroots Nation, and I hope to see you next year in Minneapolis. For those of you who attended or have seen streaming highlights, I hope you had the same takeaway I did. None of us are completely satisfied with everything that’s happened in America, but we also can’t walk away from all that we’ve accomplished. From the Recovery Act to Wall Street reform to health care reform to Lily Ledbetter equal pay and hate crimes legislation, we’ve made tremendous progress.

Those of us in Congress who share your desire to lift up working and middle class Americans by bringing back good jobs, to end the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq while making sure our returning men and women in uniform are treated with dignity and respect, to get a robust public option on the books while working toward Medicare for All, to pass meaningful climate change legislation, to end the exploitation of our fragile coasts, and to create an America that grants true equality for all its citizens, we’re still fighting. And I know you are too.

Congressman John Garamendi represents California’s 10th Congressional District, which includes portions of Contra Costa, Solano, Alameda, and Sacramento counties. He previously served as California’s Lieutenant Governor and Insurance Commissioner and as the Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Interior Department. He is a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer.  

We Can Be Better than Spain: Building a Green Economy

It’s a happy day in Spain today.  Sure, the whole World Cup was kind of a big deal.  But there’s something else:  Spain has now leapfrogged the United States as the biggest producer of solar power.

Spain has opened the world’s largest solar power station, meaning that it overtakes the US as the biggest solar generator in the world. The nation’s total solar power production is now equivalent to the output of a nuclear power station.

Spain is a world leader in renewable energies and has long been a producer of hydro-electricity (only China and the US have built more dams). It also has a highly developed wind power sector which, like solar power, has received generous government subsidies. (GuardianUK)

I’ll save you all the technical details that got me (as a huge nerd) interested in the story, but instead look at the economic and societal impacts.  In the end, rankings really don’t have much of a real meaning. I guess that it’s good for the Spanish national psyche, which after the 20% unemployment and the “socialist” government’s ill-advised austerity program could use a boost.  But, the greater issue is what is Spain doing better than us.  And here in California, we should be kicking Spain’s butt all on our own.

After all, we have all the inherent advantages (and many more) that Spain has.  The California economy is bigger than that of Spain.  The Spanish economy is roughly 1.46 trillion, ours is roughly 1.85 trillion. Spain has plenty of sun, we have plenty of sun.  Spain has a population that is concerned with the environment, as does California. (Though we’ll get some hard numbers with the Prop 23 question of AB32 repeal.)

So why is Spain now producing a nuclear power station’s worth while we’re still diterhing around the margins?  Well, there’s the obvious issue of our grid.  The upgrading of the grid was supposed to be one of the big projects emerging from the Recovery Act, and that’s happening as we speak. BUt, unfortunately, that’s still going to take a while.  The funding was cut down from the original bill, and we will still need plenty of time to really be able to manage the grid as well as we hope to in the future.  

We’ll also need to think about combining energy storage capacity with the new green energy.  You can start with flywheels and that sort of thing, but the big hope on that front is a grid that can tap into a whole network of batteries parked in the garage of every house. Like…say a fleet of electric cars that can be charged and discharged in times of high or low loads.

But the biggest failure on our part is that we just haven’t aimed high enough. We’ve been content to play around the edges, and our power companies haven’t vigorously pursued green power.  This is one of the reasons that the defeat of Prop 16 was so critical. Had PG&E won that measure, they would have been able to shut down competition and controlled all of the purchasing of power.  Instead, we can work through our elected representatives to bring more green power.

In the end, you don’t get to be the world’s leader by spouting platitudes. It’s nice to hear the Governor talk about green power, and for Meg Whitman to tut-tut the concept. But California needs a leader that will affirmatively drag our economy into the new green economy.  Years ago, they used to call Jerry Brown Governor Moonbeam.

Well, today, we need Governor Sun Ray or Wind Gust.  How’s about it Jerry?


This country and the planet cannot afford to delay climate and clean energy legislation. It is that simple. Every day Washington politics puts our clean energy future on hold our economy gets weaker, our enemies get stronger, and the planet gets more polluted. It has been almost a year since the House approved comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation to create jobs, cut our oil imports in half and reduce the carbon pollution that threatens us all, and we are still waiting for the Senate to act. The time is now for comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation that jump-starts our economy, strengthens national security, and leads to a healthier planet.

The petitions, rallies, e-mails and letters from around the country are sending a loud and clear message of broad support. The NRDC Action Fund has worked tirelessly to urge the Senate to stand up for a strong clean energy and climate bill. And just last week Capitol Hill saw a display of this commitment as “tens of thousands…gathered on the National Mall for a concert and rally” not only to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Earth Day but to call “for real leadership in the Senate”.

The President has also been crystal clear in his call to take action for passing “comprehensive clean energy and climate bill ‘that will safeguard our planet, and spur innovation and help us to compete in the 21st Century.”

Senators Kerry, Graham, and Lieberman have dedicated months to pulling together a Senate bill. As Representative Ed Markey asserts, “Right now we’ve got the best chance [to pass the legislation] in a generation…and it would just be a shame to lose it”. A delay in climate legislation would be more than just a shame, but, in the words of Thomas Freidman, “a disaster”.

Of course, Mr. Freidman is giving voice to the concerns of many. Not passing comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation now means we are not only racing toward a potential tipping point ecologically, but we are postponing economic growth and threatening national security.

It has been almost two decades since 1,600 senior scientists from 70 countries signed the statement warning “all humanity of what lies ahead. A great change in our stewardship of the earth and the life on it, is required, if vast human misery is to be avoided and our global home on this planet is not to be irretrievably mutilated.”

A comprehensive clean energy policy will “boost growth, create 2.8 million jobs, slash pollution” and drastically cut our dependence on foreign oil.

The U.S. Department of Defense declared “climate change a national security threat”, that will “contribute to food and water scarcity, will increase the spread of disease, and may spur or exacerbate mass migration.”

Our inaction also raises doubt in the rest of the world that America is still able to provide leadership on issues of global concern. We are already getting left behind as we continue to sit on the sidelines while “China is…leading the world…in wind production and…solar production.” This country was not built on the principle of inaction. Our founders were leaders who risked everything to make this country great.

The Senate has the historic opportunity to flip the switch and get onto a path to a prosperous and sustainable future. The truth is, “This generation of politicians is the last generation who have it in their power to secure the future of our planet, to safeguard the health and livelihoods of millions of people and the habitats that sustain their lives. History will not forgive them if they fail to act.”

So we need members from all parties, the officials elected to lead this country, to sit down now and get this bill back on track – for us and the generations to come.

Heather Taylor-Miesle is the director of the NRDC Action Fund. Become a fan on Facebook or Twitter.