WASHINGTON (AFP) – US President Barack Obama on Saturday urged the US Senate to pass his clean energy bill, arguing that the nation that manages to harness clean energy "will be the nation that leads the 21st century global economy."
The comments came after the US House of Representatives on Friday narrowly passed historic legislation to limit pollution blamed for global warming, handing Obama a major hard-fought victory.
By a 219-212 margin, lawmakers voted for the first time in US history to limit heat-trapping carbon emissions and shift the US economy to cleaner energy.
The "American Clean Energy and Security Act" aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent from 2005 levels by 2020, and 83 percent by 2050, create "green" jobs, and wean the US economy from oil imports.
In his weekly radio address, Obama called the bill: "a historic piece of legislation that will open the door to a clean energy economy and a better future for America."
He expressed regret that for decades US politicians had complained about the country's dependence on foreign oil only to see that dependence grow.
"We have seen our reliance on fossil fuels jeopardize our national security," Obama said. "We have seen it pollute the air we breathe and endanger our planet. And most of all, we have seen other countries realize a critical truth: the nation that leads in the creation of a clean energy economy will be the nation that leads the 21st century global economy."
In the Senate, however, the prospects for action on the bill this year are uncertain, and outspoken foes of the House approach wield considerable clout.
The president urged senators not to be afraid of the future and not to be prisoners of the past.
"Don't believe the misinformation out there that suggests there is somehow a contradiction between investing in clean energy and economic growth," he argued. "It's just not true."