Historic House victory on Global Warming: Senate battle lies ahead

Winston Churchill says we 'Deserve Victory!' 1940 © Mary Evans Picture Library 2007.

Winston Churchill would have applauded the effort of the legions of Wilderness Society voices who contacted the U.S. Congress in favor of action on the American Clean Energy and Security Act (H.R. 2454 — the Waxman-Markey energy and climate bill), which won a hard-fought victory in the U.S. House of Representatives this evening.

Our members’ and supporters’ energy generated more than 28,000 email letters, calls, faxes, tweets and personal conversations, urging Congress to get started on the hard work of stopping global warming. And today, the House responded by passing this historic legislation over the vigorous campaign of distortion and misinformation by special interests too wedded to the old ways to embrace the new. The key vote after five hours of contentious debate was 219 in favor, 212 against.

We earned this victory, but V-day for President Obama’s new energy direction, new jobs, and new hope for saving the planet is not yet at hand. We have an even bigger battle ahead in the Senate. In the House, a majority is sufficient to pass a bill, but in the Senate we must marshal an even bigger majority — 60 percent — is needed to pass legislation.

Momentum from the House will surely help, but Congress is a stimulus-response institution, and there is nothing as stimulating to a Senator as an uprising of educated, activated, motivated, and persistent constituents demanding that the future of their children and grandchildren be respected and protected.

The debate begins in key Senate committees in July; committee votes begin in early August; and the showdown on the Senate floor will occur in October or later. So we have time, we have energy, we have the resources of our time and our commitment to take on powerful naysayers in the oil, gas, utility and coal industries. It is a daunting task, but as Winnie Churchill would say: “Never give up, never, never, never!”

photo: Winston Churchill says we 'Deserve Victory!' 1940 © Mary Evans Picture Library 2007.