After years of politically motivated denials that have hurt our nation’s international image and worsened the problem, the Bush administration is reluctantly abandoning its “the verdict is not out yet” mantra. On the contrary, the verdict is out—global warming is the most urgent environmental issue facing our planet. Instead of walking away from international cooperative efforts to reduce greenhouse gases, America must engage in global dialogue and move beyond regional agreements on carbon emission trading systems. Instead of inaction, we need to participate in global action, and provide strong leadership and a bold vision.
At home, now is the time for Congress to pass effective carbon emission–reduction legislation, despite the relentless attempts by oil and coal lobbyists to derail bills with teeth. We must increase investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy research and technology, including the expansion of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden. But we also have to help move the groundbreaking technology into the market through incentives, university-industry collaboration and other public-private partnerships. I believe that the development of alternative fuels, such as biofuels, as well as energy-efficient products, such as hybrid vehicles and Zero-Energy Homes, holds the key to both becoming energy independent and addressing global warming. In addition, renewable energy can foster entrepreneurship, capitalize on American ingenuity and create jobs.