Are we closer to a climate bill? Building on President Obama’s momentum

Polar bear.

In his first speech from the Oval Office, President Obama added to the growing momentum for climate change legislation by calling on Congress to pass a comprehensive climate and clean energy bill. But it’s still up to the Senate to pass this long-awaited legislation — and it will take a continuous outpouring of public support to keep the Senate focused on this issue.

The House passed its version of the climate bill a full year ago, but time and again other large national debates have distracted the Senate from taking up the needed legislation.

It’s time to seize on this new momentum from Obama and push the Senate past the finish line.

The Wilderness Society is on the front lines of this climate fight — America’s wild places and the wildlife that inhabit them can’t call their members of Congress to ask for less greenhouse gases and greater protection from climate change. Polar bears, the iconic species of climate change, cannot fly in to meet with lawmakers, and the melting glaciers in Glacier National Park can’t voice their concerns in town hall meetings.

That’s why we’re doing this job daily. And we need you to help us keep up the pressure. Tell the Senate to pass a clean energy and climate bill this year!

By establishing a price on carbon, and eliminating the free ride for polluters, a clean energy and climate bill will reduce the amount of pollution going into the atmosphere and ramp up deployment of energy efficiency technologies and renewable energy sources like wind and solar.

But even if all carbon pollution ceased today, the existing greenhouse gas pollution in the atmosphere will affect the planet for decades to come. For that reason, we also must act now to ensure that the Senate includes provisions to the climate bill that help wildlife and natural systems adapt to the changes already underway.

Water habitat restoration project in Massachusetts.This means providing resources for ‘natural resources adaptation,’ or wildlands restoration, which will help wildlands survive by reducing the stressors caused by climate change and human development. It includes restoring damaged watersheds, expanding shrinking wildlife migration corridors and eliminating unneeded roads from wild areas, where they cause erosion and pollution of rivers and streams. Funding this work will restore the resiliency of our battered wildlands, helping them to continue to function as refuges for wildlife and as filters for the water we drink and the air we breathe.

More than that, protecting public lands creates and protects jobsmore than oil and coal combined — putting America back to work. Improving the economy and the environment is a win-win situation.

Recent polls show Americans want to move away from dirty fuels and toward a clean energy future and the Senate has shown that they are ready to address greenhouse gases and climate change.

Waste pit on hydraulic fracturing site. Photo by TXsharon, Photobucket.The need for clean energy and protection against the unavoidable effects of climate change is clear. The addiction to dirty fossil fuel energy is costing more and more every year, as mountain tops are blown apart to get the coal inside, drinking water is fouled by “fracking” pollution from natural gas wells, and oil companies are drilling increasingly risky wells through thousands of feet of water and rock for oil.

Protecting our wild places, the wildlife they shelter, and the critical human benefits they provide, such as clean air and water, need to be part of a comprehensive climate and energy bill this year.

It’s time for the Senate to finish the job.

Tell the Senate to pass a climate and energy bill now!

Polar bear on thin ice.
Water habitat restoration project in Massachusetts.
Waste pit on hydraulic fracturing site. Photo by TXsharon, Photobucket.