THE BLOG

Change Shouldn't Be This Hard

May 11, 2010 | Updated May 25, 2011

Visit NRDCs Switchboard BlogAs Senators Kerry and Lieberman prepare to release the discussion draft of their comprehensive energy and climate bill tomorrow, NRDC is launching a powerful new national TV spot, called “Change,” that makes the case for moving to clean energy. This hard-hitting ad reflects both the importance of this issue and the high-stakes moment we are in.

The Gulf Coast oil disaster is a graphic reminder of how our dependence on fossil fuels can have grave consequences for our environment and our economy – and tragically cost human lives. This disaster comes just weeks after another energy-related disaster, the West Virginia coal mine explosion that left 29 people dead. Together, these two incidents have shined a national spotlight on the risks related to our dependence on fossil fuels, as NRDC’s President Frances Beinecke discussed earlier this week.

The ad includes powerful images from these recent disasters along with a spotlight on Iranian President Ahmadinejad. Why Ahmadinejad? Because, as I’ve written before, in addition to the economic and environmental benefits of moving to clean energy and cutting carbon pollution, passing comprehensive clean energy legislation could reduce Iran’s oil revenues by $100 million per day.

The ad reminds our elected officials in Washington that these issues are tied together and sends them a strong message: America is ready for real energy reform. The ad closes with the line “Its time for politicians to break their addiction so we can break ours. Its time for clean American energy.”

The ad tracks closely with two recent public opinion polls which confirm the strong, ongoing public support for action.

On Monday, NRDC released a new poll showing that the vast majority of Americans support action to quickly pass clean energy legislation. As my colleague, Wesley Warren wrote, this poll is a reflection that “the catastrophic Gulf oil spill has changed the politics of clean energy legislation. Americans want change and they want it now.” (Read his blog here)

Here are the topline findings:

  • Voters clearly want Congress to fast-track legislation that will require greater emphasis on renewable forms of energy and quickly move the country off our dependence on oil. Seven in ten (71%) support this move, with four in ten (44%) strongly in favor.
  • When asked about specific approaches to promoting renewable energy and reducing oil dependence, voters express strong support for passage of a clean energy and climate change bill, with more than six in ten agreeing the Senate should pass the bill and four in ten saying so strongly.
  • Nearly seven in ten voters also want to see a halt to any new offshore drilling until a full investigation of the accident is complete and safeguards are put in place.

These findings are consistent with another poll released this week by the Benenson Strategy Group. That poll found that Americans overwhelming support a comprehensive clean energy bill: 61% support a bill “that will limit pollution, invest in domestic energy sources and encourage companies to use and develop clean energy…”

Perhaps more surprising, the poll also found that Americans hold their elected officials accountable for the spill – even more than special interests or corporations. According to the poll memo:

When asked who they blame for our dependence on oil, voters are more likely to blame Washington politicians protecting special interests that fund their campaigns (33%) than big oil companies and lobbyists trying to protect their profits (27%).

The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent had a nice write-up of the poll. As Sargent notes, one conclusion of the poll is that “It behooves Dems to sort out a compromise energy reform package they can support and start moving on it now.”

This brings us back to the new legislative text coming tomorrow. Regardless of the details, Senators Kerry and Lieberman are to be commended for their hard work, determination, and leadership on this issue. They have succeeded in building a broad coalition and in moving forward in trying times.

Now it will be up to the Senate leadership— and the Administration – to take the next steps in responding to America’s renewed call for clean energy reform. Let’s make sure they hear the call and take swift action to begin moving America in a new direction on energy and climate policies.

We know that Americans are ready. And, as the ad says, “Change shouldn’t be this hard.”