Future Hope column, December 9, 2007
By Ted Glick
This Tuesday morning, around 10 a.m., on the 99th day of my climate emergency fast, I’m going to the Senate office on Capitol Hill of Mitch McConnell, the top-ranking Republican in the Senate. And I’m going to stay there for a while, attempting to draw attention to the anger that a lot of us feel about this latest outrage by Republican leaders in Washington out of touch with even their own rank and file. According to a recent Zogby poll, 77% of Republicans agree that utilities should be required
to produce some of their energy from clean sources such as wind and solar.
Despite this reality, McConnell led the Republicans in a successful effort Friday morning to defeat a surprisingly good—for this Congress—energy bill passed by the House on Thursday. A key part of that bill, and a part singled out by Republicans
as a main reason for their opposition, was a requirement that 13 years from now, by 2020, utility companies must get 15% of their power from renewable sources, from the sun, wind, tides, the earth’s heat and other clean sources.
Never mind the fact that half the states have already passed legislation mandating something similar, some of them with stronger requirements. Never mind the fact that there was a 20% reduction in the amount of sea ice in the Arctic between the
end of this summer and the end of the summer of 2005. Never mind the fact that the House renewables requirement is actually quite modest, as is true for other parts of the bill.
It is absolutely clear that what we need is not a 1% a year increase in renewable energy, or a 3/4 of a mile per year increase in fuel efficiency standards, which is what the CAFÉ provision of the House bill provides for, to an average of 35 miles per gallon by 2020. After all, mpg for cars is over 40 for Europe and 35 for China right now!
What we need is a full-fledged, deep-seated, through-going clean energy revolution. If we’re going to have a chance of avoiding the catastrophic climate change that we’re staring down the gun barrel at right now, we must make that qualitative and quantitative shift as soon as possible. We must do on the energy issue what we did in 1942 when the U.S., following the December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, rapidly shifted from a peacetime to a wartime economy in the battle to defeat Hitler and Japanese fascism.
This time, we need to defeat the oil and coal interests and their enablers in other parts of the economy and in Congress. Those are the corporate interests who are behind what McConnell his partners did on Friday.
I was asked yesterday by someone I was trying to recruit for this sit-in idea what I thought could come of it.
One thing that might come of it is an intensification of grassroots pressure—calls, faxes, emails, visits—to the offices of Senators, demanding that they must include support of renewable energy in any energy bill they pass. An energy bill without significant support for renewables is like sex without love, religion without God, or democracy without free and fair elections.
Another thing that should come of this is that some Republicans and, for that matter, weak-kneed Democrats might think twice next time before they do something like this again.
But perhaps more important, what an action like this can do is give hope and courage to those thousands of young people who attended the historic Power Shift conference over a month ago, encourage their taking action where they are. It can help to build a spirit of resistance within the broader environmental, climate and progressive movement that we are going to need going forward into 2008 and 2009 when the absolutely decisive showdowns in Washington, D.C. will be taking place over a new U.S. government climate policy.
I know that there’ll be others with me on Tuesday morning, hopefully a lot of us, and I hope that there’ll be similar actions this week at the district offices of Senate Republicans who voted with McConnell and for the corporate polluters on Friday. McConnell’s office is room number 361-A in the Russell Building on Constitution Avenue up on Capitol Hill.
Resistance is forming, no war, no warming!
Ted Glick is on the 97th day of a climate emergency fast and is the coordinator of the U.S. Climate Emergency Council. More information on the energy bill struggle and the fast can be found at http://www.climateemergency.org. Ted can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 240-396-2155.