Jewish groups hail energy legislation passage

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Two Jewish groups hailed the passage of energy and climate legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The Jewish Council for Public Affairs and the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism lobbied for the bill, which will require reductions in U.S. carbon emissions, create a cap-and-trade system for emission permits and provide incentives for the use of "clean" power. They called the bipartisan American Clean Energy and Security Act a critical "first step."

"This is a crucially important issue — the most important issue for the whole planet," said JCPA Washington director Hadar Susskind. "If we don’t do this, none of the others matter."

Rabbi David Saperstein, the director of the Religious Action Center, said that while the measure does not go far enough, it "creates an important framework for drastically reducing global warming pollution, creating hundreds of thousands of good, green jobs and increasing access to clean energy."

"We are encouraged by the inclusion of strong consumer protections for low-income individuals and families, and by the addition of provisions that target traditionally underrepresented populations to benefit from the growth of the green economy," Saperstein said. "However, we remain disappointed by the failure to secure adequate resources to help the most vulnerable developing nations adapt to the effects of climate change, which they are already encountering daily."

Susskind said the bill will not only help the environment but also provide "energy security" by starting to wean the U.S. from foreign oil and help the economy with its creation of new "green jobs."

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