Climate Change Bill Is On Slow Track

Although public favors bill, Senate is consumed with health care

This page was published 14 years ago. Find the latest on Earthjustice’s work.

If the latest Zogby poll is right, Americans have taken a green flip-flop in favor of Congress acting on climate change. The poll says 65 percent of us feel that way, and even believe that jobs growth is tied to clean energy investment.

Most politicians guide their votes on the basis of public opinion, so this would seem a good omen for the climate legislation passed earlier by the House into Senate hands. The "American Clean Energy and Security Act" is in part based on the premise of creating economic growth by fighting global warming.

Trouble is, the Senate is too fixated on health care reform right now to feel any wind shift on climate change. Nor is the Obama administration able to take quality time off from that ruckus to rouse action on ACES. It’s supposed to be taken up early next month, but most political wags think it is on a slow, slow track. The hoped-for December deadline for a full Senate vote is in jeopardy.

It’s too bad that these two legislative efforts are being treated so separately. In truth, the health of our citizens is directly linked to the kinds of reforms that could be instituted by an effective climate bill. A San Francisco Chronicle writer summed it up this way:

"The Waxman-Markey bill, by providing an economic impetus for the U.S. to move away from coal as a primary source of electricity, would directly improve the health of millions of Americans. Many of the chronic illnesses, such as asthma, linked to particulate pollution are the same ones that are overburdening our health care system."

From 2006–2014, Terry was managing editor for Earthjustice's blog, online monthly newsletter and print Earthjustice Quarterly Magazine.