May 20, 2010

TO:     Members of the U.S. Senate

FROM: Mary G. Wilson, President

RE:     Climate and Energy Policy

It is time for the United States Senate to act against climate change and to put in place an effective energy policy for our nation.  These twin issues have been left to fester for far too long, endangering our health and environment, our national security and world leadership, and our jobs and the economy. 

The League of Women Voters believes that comprehensive legislation on energy and the environment must be the next major item on the Senate’s agenda.  The legislation recently developed by Senator Kerry and Senator Lieberman can serve as the basis for this important debate.   

The scientific evidence is clear that climate change, due largely to human emissions of greenhouse gases, is here now, causing increasingly severe droughts and heat waves in some areas, intensifying floods and hurricanes in others, and triggering more wildfires.  Climate change can devastate crops, create drinking water shortages, displace millions of people because of floods and increase the spread of infectious diseases like malaria.

In addition, our energy policy is based on old technologies and dirty energy sources.  We are dependent on hostile regimes for oil and send huge sums overseas in payment.  Our businesses and workers can lead the world in developing clean energy, but they need comprehensive national policies to point the way. 

The League believes that legislation should set enforceable targets and timetables for reducing greenhouse gas emissions that are consistent with the science; we believe that funding is critical for spurring renewable energy sources and conservation, and to ensuring equity for consumers; and we do not believe that already-established and mature industries, such as oil, coal, and nuclear, should be the beneficiaries of still more federal largesse. 

Thus there are elements of the Kerry-Lieberman proposal that we support and others about which we have deep concerns, particularly those related to offshore oil development and insulating nuclear power from the marketplace.  We are disappointed by the overall lack of adequate investments in international action to tackle climate change. 

With the need for strong and comprehensive climate and energy legislation growing every day, it is imperative for the Senate to move ahead.  Our health, the environment, our economy and our place in the world demand action.