July 5, 2009

"Clean energy" legislation a good first step

By Meghan Gillmeg

Some 233 years ago, our founding fathers were involved in a fight that culminated with this great country's independence.

Many will celebrate this independence this weekend American style. That would be by donning our red, white and blue, watching fireworks and enjoying good food and drink. Let's also think about independence in a different way: energy independence.

Last weekend, the U.S. House passed the American Clean Energy & Security Act of 2009. The purpose of this act is to "create clean energy jobs, achieve energy independence, reduce global warming pollution and transition to a clean energy economy.

This act represents a start in the direction of true energy independence for the United States. Only two House members from New Jersey, Republicans Scott Garrett of Sussex County and Rodney Frelinghuysen of Harding, voted against this act.

This bill is supported by many organizations, including the leaders in the agribusiness community, a group Garrett claims to represent. According to Feedstuffs, the weekly newspaper of the Agribusiness, "Passage of the House bill was applauded by agricultural groups since it included the farmer-friendly provisions presented earlier in the week by Rep. Collin Peterson, D., Minn., chairman of the House Agriculture Committee.

Perhaps Garrett's no vote was influenced by a $10,000 political action committee campaign contribution during the 2007-2008 cycle from Koch Industries, a corporation supplying "communities with energy to heat and cool buildings, fibers for superior carpets and garments (and) chemicals used in manufacturing."

Or maybe it was the donation of $4,000 in 2008 alone from FirstEnergy PAC, an energy conglomerate with close ties to the Bush Administration, in particular former Vice President Dick Cheney. It was FirstEnergy, of course, that was possibly responsible for the devastating, massive power outage of August 2003, which contributed to at least 11 fatalities and a total loss of revenue of between $7 billion and $10 billion.

The American Clean Energy & Security Act may not a perfect solution to our energy production and consumption woes, but, at least, it is a step in the right direction for our country.

Garrett and Frelinghuysen are living in a bygone era of status-quo cronyism and big corporate payoffs, and their voting record reflects this.

It's time that we stand up for our independence and support clean energy, job creation and the reduction of global warming.