You Make the Call

We all know that partisan gridlock in Washington has stalled much-needed climate legislation. There isn’t really any legitimate question about the science, and while there is no magic bullet there are certainly many solutions we could and should be working on. There are certainly plenty Americans demanding that Congress, particularly the Senate, get off their butts and do something.

In other words, we have all the other pieces, we’re just lacking the political will on the part of our elected representatives.

Of course, it’s also no secret that members of Congress are being pushed to keep delaying, and the very companies that would be impacted by climate legislation are doing the pushing. Problem is, they can push hard.

Last year, lobbyists for oil and gas companies spent over $168 million on lobbying efforts, with over $150 million of that going to lobby on climate and energy issues. And that’s just the oil and gas industry — throw in money spent by the coal, natural gas, nuclear, and utilities lobbies, and that number becomes even more astronomical. (There’s a good industry-by-industry breakdown of lobbying expenditures here, scroll down to find the chart.)

Environmental groups certainly got into the lobbying fight as well, but spent only about $22.5 million in 2009. That’s about 13 percent of what just the oil and gas companies spent.

So how on Earth do we counter the kind of money and inordinate influence that these polluting industries have?

Pure people power is the obvious answer. After all, our representatives may be happy to shill for the big businesses that are filling their campaign war chests, but at the end of the day they still need us to cast the ballots.

A group of  over 30 organizations have started a campaign to get all of us concerned about global warming to make one big, concerted push for climate action. The campaign is called 72 Hours For Clean American Power. It started today and will go through Thursday, so you still have plenty of time to get involved. The idea is simple: All of us get on the horn with our Senators and demand climate action.

Congress is currently setting their agenda for 2010, and you can bet there are a lot of polluter lobbyists pressing them to leave climate legislation out. The 72 Hours website makes it easy for you to call your senators and tell them that you expect them to make the climate a priority: You just go to the site, enter your information, and you get a call back with a short message from the campaign before getting patched through to your Senator’s office.

What will our future look like: clean and green or polluted and dirty? It may seem like it’s not your call, but actually it is.

Image credit: david.nikonvscanon

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