Last week, the House Energy and Commerce Committee took a historic step toward America’s clean energy future that will create jobs, cut our dependence on oil, and reduce the carbon pollution that causes global warming. By a 33-25 vote, the Committee passed the American Clean Energy and Security Act, HR 2454, known as the Waxman-Markey Bill. It places an economy-wide cap on carbon pollution that will reduce emissions by 17 percent by 2020 and 83 percent by 2050; requires utilities to generate about a fifth of all energy from renewable sources by 2020; invests in energy efficiency, cleaner vehicles, and carbon capture technology; and much, much more. A summary of the bill and related activity can be found at the NRDC blog
The bill was the subject of intense lobbying on both sides of the issue. Passage in the Committee came down to convincing eleven undecided members mainly from the South and the Midwest. E2 worked long and hard along with many other organizations to pass this bill out of the Energy and Commerce Committee, so that it can proceed to consideration by the full House.
This year’s E2 Washington advocacy team
boasted business interests in at least 39 different states and many different fields. When we met with key legislators in DC in late April we were able to speak with authority about clean energy opportunities in their districts. In the last week before Memorial Day weekend E2 also sent out an ‘Urgent Alert’ asking members and supporters if they had any connections whatsoever with the swing Representatives, their staffs or their districts.
The "6 degrees of separation" method worked. We found E2ers with business interests, friends, relatives, and 2nd homes in these districts; several E2 members had a personal connection to a member. In fact, E2 was able to reach 10 of the 11 swing voters via one or more constituents in their district.
Through this process we presented our views, gained intelligence, and developed relationships. One Congressman told an E2 member who was an old friend that he wanted to vote for the bill, but feared it would hurt him politically. However, he added that if his vote made the difference, he would “do the courageous thing
.” He did.
An E2 member’s friend in a swing district wrote to his Congressman: “[I am] your constituent, Plastic Surgeon, and friend of your brother asking you to support the Waxman-Markey Climate Bill.
An E2 member’s business associate -- whose company is in a swing district -- wrote back to us, “I spoke with the Congressman and his staff member. The conversation went very well. I sent him a brief of our major points. The Congressman finds himself in a difficult position, but wants to help!
Another E2 member wrote, “I met with this legislator recently and have direct business interests, including a regional office and employees in the district. I will be in DC next Tuesday and can hand deliver a letter if that helps.
When the votes were tallied, all but three of the eleven swing voters on the Committee cast their vote in favor of the Bill. The battle has just begun; but this is a very good first step. The bill will now be considered by other house committees – including Ways and Means and the Agriculture committees before going to the floor for a full vote.
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