As a Senate climate change bill waits in the wings, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), one of its top proponents, tried to drum up populist support Wednesday morning by telling a conference of labor unions and energy groups that it would be above all a jobs bill.
I stake my reputation on it, Kerry said. You can guarantee, even though the scare tactics will come, this bill is consumer friendly, citizen friendly.
We cannot drill and burn our way out of this crisis, Kerry added. We can invest and invent our way out of this. And if we do that smart, were going to create jobs all across this nation that cannot be exported.
Kerry characterized the recent partisan atmosphere as an adult political food fight and accused Republicans of using scare tactics to distort the debate, such as saying a climate change bill would increase taxes. He said many of his colleagues are scared of supporting the bill for just that reason.
Thats why, he continued, he went straight to the oil companies for support.
Theyve acted in good faith and theyve worked hard with us to get a solution that meets all of our needs, he said of the oil companies. When we roll out a bill and we will roll it out very, very soon we are going to have a unique coalition.
He said it will include the utilities, nuclear and oil companies as well as faith-based, national security and environmentalist communities.
He specifically cited support from CEOs and presidents of the Dow Chemical Company, General Electric Co., DuPont, Florida Power & Light Company and American Electric Power, who Kerry said are among the top companies who output carbon dioxide and other emissions.
They all know this is good for America and we need to do it, Kerry said. What they want is the business certainty about how much carbon will cost over the next 30 to 40 years.
Kerry also told the crowd at the Good Jobs, Green Jobs National Conference at the Washington Hilton that the climate change bill will address a critical national security issue.
Its absurd that we are locked into this addiction where we have to send $365 billion to $400 billion overseas [for oil] when we could spend it over here, he said. Then we say, Gosh, some of that money made its way over to Hamas and Hezbollah.
Kerry said America runs the risk of falling behind China, India, Mexico and Germany in technologies that we invented, such as solar and wind.
The revolution that fueled the wealth creation of the 1990s ... came from a $1 trillion market technology with 1 billion users, he said. The energy market that were looking at today is a $6 trillion market with 6 billion users. We need to get into that market.
Kerry touted T. Boone Pickens plan to convert large garbage trucks and 18-wheelers to run on natural gas. He also said the U.S. should invest in high-speed rail.
He compared the scale of this plan to the New Deal, the Marshall Plan and ARPANET.
For nearly half a century, this country was willing to pay any price and bear any burden, he said, referencing the late-Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) We need to step up.
Following the speeches from elected officials, the crowd stands at long tables as they dig into BBQ, brunswick stew, cadillac rice at the Law Enforcement Cookout at Wayne Dasher's pond house in Glennville, Ga., on Thursday, April 17, 2014.