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Clean Energy Debate Heats Up in Congress

May 18, 2009

Seattle, WA – Congress is expect to begin a clean energy debate today. Backers of the new clean energy bill say it would create millions of jobs and help prevent global warming, but business leaders are worried about how much that would cost. The The American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 proposes to cap greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent in the next decade and by more than 80 percent by 2050. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce contends the measure will be expensive and the new rules would likely result in lawsuits.

But, voters see it differently, according to Phyliss Cuttino, U.S. Global Warming Campaign director for the Pew Environment Group, which has released the results of a nationwide, bipartisan poll. More than 60 percent of voters, including those in Washington State, favor such a plan, says Cuttino.

"Voters really believe that, if America becomes more dependent on alternative sources of energy, then jobs and the economy will both do better."

The Act would also set a 20-percent renewable energy and energy efficiency standard by the year 2020.

Congress needs to act now, according to Dan Siemann with the Western region of the National Wildlife Federation, because Washington and other Western states are already experiencing multiple negative impacts due to global warming.

"We’re getting more wildfires and they’re burning more frequently in larger areas. You’ve got rising snow pack that’s reducing the amount of water in the streams and salmon are being harmed. "

Action is needed, says Siemann, so states like Washington will be able to prepare for, and even prevent, the worst environmental changes that are being sparked by climate change.

The survey results are available at www.pewglobalwarming.org.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - WA