This post was written By Mark Tercek, Fred Krupp and Jamey French for Nashua Telegraph:
The partisan gridlock that’s preventing Washington from solving the nation’s toughest problems is not a law of nature. It’s the individual choice of our elected officials. All it will take to make progress on big issues is for leaders of courage and conscience to put aside politics as usual and work to find solutions.
New Hampshire is fortunate to have two senators who seem to understand this.
We were greatly encouraged to hear Sen. Kelly Ayotte call on her colleagues to take a productive approach to clean air and climate issues in the new Congress. Instead of the usual Washington showmanship of denouncing any new EPA effort to protect our air, water, and climate, Sen. Ayotte asked her colleagues to help find constructive solutions.
“Count me in as someone who, as we look at these regulations, I would prefer, rather than us always be in a battle … that we actually work together and come up with longer-term solutions,” the senator told a gathering of conservatives hosted by the Conservation Leadership Council, Concord 51 and Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions.
To those outside Washington, that may seem like plain common sense. We elect people to Congress to do just that – work together and find solutions. But for those of us who have been through the clean air battles of the past decade, this is an enormously refreshing approach. It’s also consistent with Sen. Ayotte’s record as a thoughtful leader on clean air issues, particularly regulations to limit mercury pollution.
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (along with Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio) is promoting a bipartisan renewable energy bill, which would take common-sense steps to promote clean power. (Sen. Ayotte is also a supporter.) For years, Sen. Shaheen has been an outspoken leader on clean air and climate issues. And she is particularly forceful in defending New Hampshire’s environment against out-of-state pollution.
The next big air pollution fight in Congress is likely to be over a proposal to limit carbon pollution from our nation’s aging fleet of power plants, the largest source of these emissions. The plan gives each state enormous flexibility, and analysis shows it would actually lower utility bills, yet many in Congress are following the predictable script of bashing the idea without offering any effective alternatives.
Limiting carbon emissions would be particularly beneficial to New Hampshire. Energy sources will be more local, more secure, less harmful to our environment, and cost-effective — keeping money in peoples’ pockets instead of paying to import fossil fuels.
We hope both New Hampshire’s senators will be active participants in this coming debate. Each can be a leader in her party on finding constructive solutions to the challenges ahead.
We can no longer afford to ignore the threat that greenhouse gas emissions pose to our economy and to our children’s future. The sooner we have leaders in both parties willing to put aside partisanship to find common sense, long term solutions, the better off we will all be.
Mark Tercek is CEO of The Nature Conservancy, Fred Krupp is the president of Environmental Defense Fund and Jamey French is president and CEO of Northland Forest Products in Kingston.