A climactic vote

A climactic vote

Al Franken’s long-awaited victory this week in the U.S. Senate race in Minnesota comes at an opportune time for the country.
We don’t say that because Franken is Jewish. Both Franken and his Republican opponent, former Sen. Norm Coleman, are Jews.
Neither do we say it because Franken would be more pro-Israel than Coleman. He wouldn’t. Both men appeared at a pro-Israel rally at the Minneapolis Jewish Community Center in January and expressed strong support for the Jewish state.
Franken’s election is opportune because it comes just in time for the senator-elect to vote on the most important piece of legislation to come before Congress this century: the climate bill.
And when the bill comes to the Senate floor for a vote, Franken, who made renewable energy a major issue in his campaign, is likely to support it.
Last week, the House passed on a largely party line vote of 219-212, The American Clean Energy and Security Act, which promises sweeping changes in the way Americans use and produce energy.
The bill includes a cap-and-trade global warming reduction plan designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 17 percent by 2020. Other provisions include new renewable requirements for utilities, studies and incentives regarding new carbon capture and sequestration technologies, energy efficiency incentives for homes and buildings, and grants for green jobs.
The bill isn’t perfect. As The New York Times reported, it falls short of what European governments and environmentalists say is needed to avert the worst effects of global warming.
And Republicans have panned the bill, calling it an “energy tax” on Americans. Americans probably will pay more for their energy under the bill, but the global warming crisis, which virtually every reputable scientific body, including the National Academy of Sciences, has said truly exists, won’t be reversed without everyone making some sacrifices.
At Franken’s Senate campaign Web site, the senator-elect called for an “Apollo project,” referring to the NASA program responsible for putting a man on the moon, to “provide financial support for research into new forms of renewable energy and development of currently-identified sources to make them more efficient.”
Those “forms” would include biofuels, solar power and wind power.
He noted that the United States has grown more dependent this century on foreign oil, including oil from countries hostile to Israel. In 2000, 58 percent of the oil consumed in the United States was imported. By September 2006, the rate had risen to 70 percent.
To us, that is the most compelling reason to push ahead with climate legislation: to remove the leverage the oil-producing world, including Iran, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela, has over our country.
We think Franken understands this, and we welcome his vote in the Senate.