|Photo courtesy Greenpeace|
Greenpeace activists hang a banner from a construction crane near the State Department in Washington, D.C., April 27.
The action coincided with the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate, a gathering of 17 nations with large or rapidly growing economies.
Landmark Climate Change Bill
Congress has begun debate on what could become the first-ever federal legislation to regulate greenhouse gases. The House Energy and Commerce Committee began hearings on the American Clean Energy and Security Act on Earth Day, April 22. The bill was introduced by Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) and Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), who has pledged to move the bill out of committee by Memorial Day, so that discussions can begin on the House floor.
Activists have high hopes riding on the bill, which promises to cut emissions 80 percent by 2050, a target Obama has embraced, though he has stopped short of endorsing the bill. The bill would place the U.S. in a leadership role on climate change after years of inaction under the Bush administration, and green groups hope it could be a turning point, prompting global action at a major United Nations meeting on climate in Copenhagen later this year.
But climate activists also say the bill needs to go farther. For instance, it funds the development of technology that purports to capture and store carbon emitted by coal plants, even though the technology is unproven and may be ineffective.
Activists are campaigning heavily to improve the bill and gain support from members of Congress. The youth-led organization Focus the Nation is holding nationwide town hall meetings to discuss the legislation with business leaders, politicians, and public citizens.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has formally recognized carbon dioxide as a pollutant, following a two-year review mandated by the Supreme Court. The decision requires the EPA to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act, and it may hasten Congressional action.
Lisa Jackson, head of the EPA, and Obama have said they would rather have regulations set by Congress than by EPA administrative action, which they say could be costly and vulnerable to lawsuits.
—Madeline Ostrander is senior editor at YES! Magzine.
“We will not continue to sacrifice our culture, our people, and our future for dirty energy.”
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