Today, U.S. Senator Mark Udall led an effort by Michael Bennet and 10 other freshman Democratic Senators calling on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to take action this year to pass clean energy legislation that will create jobs, strengthen our national security, and transition the country away from our dependence on fossil fuels. In a letter to Leader Reid, the freshmen said that the tragedies in the Gulf and in West Virginia have underscored the importance of taking swift action.
"As a diverse group of Senators representing all corners of America, we - the Freshman Democratic Class - believe that America's current energy policy is untenable and that the Senate must take action this year to move our country forward," the 12 freshman Senators wrote. "We know this transition presents challenges on many fronts, but the costs of inaction are too great.... We see the great potential for our states and our nation to benefit if we enact comprehensive energy legislation this year. We refuse to be the generation of leaders who posterity will view as those who failed to act."
In their letter, the freshman Senators laid out the elements they believe should be in a meaningful reform bill:
* A price on greenhouse gas emissions to help provide market certainty and keep pace with China, India and other countries.
* Tax incentives, grants, loans and other assistance to help American manufacturers create jobs, cut their energy consumption, retool for a clean energy economy, and remain competitive in the global market.
* Support for job training programs.
* Targeted incentives for investments in energy efficiency throughout the American economy, including short-term and long-term programs to lower energy bills for American families and businesses, boost job creation, and jump-start the market for energy-efficient technologies.
* Investments in clean energy technologies to create more diversified and sustainable American power, including a federal renewable electricity standard (RES).
* A clear target for reducing our dependence on oil from countries outside North America, and for investing in electric vehicle deployment, alternative transportation fuels, and expanded use of rail transportation, among other programs to help meet the goal.
In addition to Senators Udall and Bennet, the letter was signed by: Jeanne Shaheen (New Hampshire), Tom Udall (New Mexico), Jeff Merkley (Oregon), Mark Begich (Alaska), Roland Burris (Illinois), Ted Kaufman (Delaware), Kirsten Gillibrand (New York), Mark Warner (Virginia), Al Franken (Minnesota), and Kay Hagan (North Carolina).