Perhaps I should mention that today is Earth Day. It’s the 40th anniversary of the holiday in fact. Now, whether this day matters any more is a subject of much debate (see green bloggers, including me, weigh in over at Treehugger). I think Earth Day is a good reminder of just how much environmental advocates and allies achieved in the early years: the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Occupational Safety and Health Act, just to name a few. But this year, it should serve as a reminder that much, much more needs to be done on today’s biggest environmental problem: climate change.
Where are we on that? Well, the lead Republican working on climate and energy legislation last week rejected the plan to roll out the bill on Earth Day, downplaying the idea that the legislation has anything to do with the environment. Meanwhile, it’s not even clear what exactly that bill looks like, as the authors struggle to build some manner of franken-climate-bill that can attract 60 votes. And from recent reports it looks likely that the bill will move further down the list of legislative priorities this year, behind financial reform and then immigration.
John Kerry, the lead Democrat working on legislation, tried to strike a hopeful, if somewhat plaintive, call to action on Thursday. This year, he said in a statement, is “our last and best shot” to get a bill passed. Thus, Earth Day, “must be a reflection point that helps make this the year the Senate passes comprehensive climate and energy legislation.” (He said pretty much the same thing in an op-ed in Politico today too.)
With all the not-very-hope-inspiring-news of late, I’m really hoping that this is neither the “last” nor “best” shot at getting the policy right. But Kerry is certainly right that Earth Day should be treated as the impetus for action.