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Environmentalists, Unions Hit the Road for Climate Bill

Frustrated with the Senate’s inaction on comprehensive energy legislation, the Blue Green Alliance kicked off a 17-state bus tour Monday in Carson, Calif.

The partnership of eight unions and two environmental groups is pushing Congress to enact a climate bill — or change the Senate rules to make it easier for the majority to get legislation passed.

“The Job’s Not Done” tour will be making more than 30 stops across the country, ending Sept. 3 in Richmond, Va.

Organizers said the goal is to highlight the connection between the unemployment crisis and the need to pass a climate bill. They also want to encourage their base to make an active plea for Members of Congress to move on the issue as soon as possible.

“This unemployment crisis has a simple and obvious solution — passing comprehensive climate legislation,” said Blue Green Alliance Executive Director David Foster. “If we take that bold action, it will be the bold step necessary to put Americans back to work.”

Representatives from the Sierra Club, Communication Workers of America, the Natural Resources Defense Council and others said they did not expect the Senate to enact a climate bill before the November election. However, they are looking for movement in the lame-duck session, or at least in January.

“The process itself leads to an incredibly limited agenda, and given the way the Senate is functioning it’s amazing anything was done on health care and financial reform,” CWA’s Larry Cohen said. “They are captured by an ideological group, [which is] primarily Republican that believes that no news is good news.”

If Democrats move to change Senate rules that would make it easier to pass legislation, Cohen said, the alliance would be “part of the chorus” fighting for it.

Michael Langford, president of the Utility Workers Union of America, said the stalled legislation is an example of how “dysfunctional” the process is on Capitol Hill.

“It’s not very often we get an opportunity to create an industry, and this is that time,” Langford said.

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