Wednesday, September 16, 2009

600 Groups Urge Senators To Pass Climate Bill This Year

Sep 15: As it now seems that the Senate leadership is leaning toward a possible delay in attempting to pass climate change legislation this year; a release from National Wildlife Federation (NWF) says a collection of more than 600 conservation, outdoor, sportsmen, recreation and faith groups representing tens of millions of individuals all across the country are calling on the Senate to pass comprehensive climate and energy legislation that not only reduces greenhouse gas emissions, but also dedicates a significant portion of funding towards helping wildlife and natural resources that are currently threatened by global warming.

Derek Brockbank, National Wildlife Federation conservation funding campaign manager said, "Time is running out for many of America’s most treasured wildlife and landscapes. New and dedicated resources are needed to safeguard wildlife and natural resources from climate change impacts today so future generations of Americans can enjoy a thriving natural heritage tomorrow." According to the release, all the groups agree that in order to realistically tackle the existing and forecasted impacts facing our treasured wild places and animals, the Senate will need to dedicate approximately five percent of the total allowances from a climate bill towards safeguarding our natural resources from the negative impacts of climate change.

Yet as the groups mount their campaign to urge Senate passage in advance of the UN COP15 climate change meeting in Copenhagen, media reports indicate that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid warned yesterday that climate legislation might have to wait until next year because of the intensive effort necessary on health care and financial system reform legislation. The New York Times reported that although a Reid spokesman, insisted that "no decisions have been made" on floor timing for a comprehensive climate and energy bill and "We still intend to deal with health care, [Wall Street regulatory] reform and cap and trade this year;" a few hours earlier, "Reid had suggested that the global warming legislation could be tossed to the sidelines because of a packed legislative agenda that includes equally bruising battles over health care and Wall Street reform."

In a letter to Senators signed by the groups, they indicate, "As the Senate develops comprehensive climate and energy legislation, your leadership is needed to get the whole job done this year. Please ensure climate legislation both reduces the greenhouse gas emissions triggering climate change and safeguards natural resources, wildlife and our own communities threatened by the changes already set in motion."

Noah Matson, vice president for climate change with Defenders of Wildlife said, “This funding would provide crucial support for job-creating conservation initiatives to protect the natural resources which are the backbone of public health and the American economy. Without funding for efforts such as these, much of the natural resources all Americans depend on for water, food, medicine, flood protection and recreation will be seriously compromised in the near future.” The groups reminded that outdoor recreation accounts for eight percent of all consumer spending, which drives an overall annual contribution of $730 billion to the economy and supports 6.5 million jobs.

Specifically, the groups have urged the Senate to develop climate legislation that will establish a national policy framework to begin addressing the impacts of climate change on our natural resources; provide increased scientific capacity, coordination and information sharing; and dedicate five percent of the total allowance value to federal, state and tribal agencies.

In the meantime a key Administration official has suggested that the what has been termed the "critical" Copenhagen meeting may not be the end-all opportunity and that “We can come back in two to four years’ time.” is reporting that U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu who is in Vienna, Austria addressing the 53rd International Atomic Energy Agency General Conference, told reporters on September 15, that it is more important that nations make actual commitments to fight global warming. Bloomberg reported that Chu said, “Let’s not make that one particular time the be-all, end- all and say if it doesn’t happen that we’re doomed. We can come back in two to four years’ time. . . "

Access a release from NWF and link to a copy of a campaign ad (click here). Access the letter and list of groups (click here). Access a NYT article on the timing of the climate legislation (click here). Access the Bloomberg's article (click here).