Statement on the Waxman-Markey “American Clean Energy and Security Act”

May 15, 2009

Next week the House Energy and Commerce Committee will mark up the American Clean Energy Security Act (H.R. 2454), a groundbreaking piece of legislation introduced by the committee’s chair, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.), who chairs the Subcommittee on Energy and Environment. The following statement was issued by Wilderness Society president Bill Meadows as the committee prepared to release compromise language expected to receive the support of a majority of members.

“The Wilderness Society commends Reps. Waxman and Markey for their leadership in introducing this historic legislation — the first comprehensive energy and climate bill ever to be voted on by the U.S. House of Representatives. This legislation will for the first time require polluters to pay for the costs of dumping carbon pollution into the air. It will create a whole new clean energy industry and the businesses and jobs to support it.

“We are extremely gratified to learn that the bill to be marked up by the committee next week includes dedicated funding to safeguard our natural resources from the impacts of global warming. We are pleased that the Energy and Commerce Committee has agreed to strengthen the bill in this way. In the end, all human health depends on keeping America’s natural ecosystems functioning well.

“As this important legislation is marked up next week, we urge members of the committee to resist any amendments that would weaken this historic legislation. We need to pass a strong bill if our response to global warming is to be effective enough, soon enough. It is critical right now that the United States show the world it is willing to take this path to a sustainable future. The fact that conservative Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee are now ready to say ‘yes’ to this sweeping energy and climate bill means that the Senate might not, in the end, say ‘no.’

“The polls show that despite the severe economic downturn, Americans believe that global warming is real and that Congress should act to limit carbon pollution. The public knows that our existing energy policy is unsustainable. We cannot continue to import oil from unreliable foreign sources, and we cannot continue to dump global warming pollution into the atmosphere. We need a new model that moves us to a future of clean energy and the economic benefits it provides. The Waxman-Markey bill will commit us to this new direction for America.

“Acting to limit carbon pollution is absolutely necessary if we are to have any chance of protecting vulnerable communities and vulnerable public lands, such as our wilderness areas, our coastal refuges, national parks and treasured landscapes, from severe and costly climate impacts. Passing this legislation in this Congress is the highest priority for The Wilderness Society, for the people we represent, and for the lands we love.”

Statement by William H. Meadows, President