The progressive activist group MoveOn is trying to rally its 5 million members behind an aggressive campaign to strengthen the climate and energy bill that passed the House last week.

If at least two-thirds of voting members consent, the group will begin a “full-court press to fix the bill, and turn up the heat on senators who might be tempted to side with Big Oil and Coal,” it said in an email blast on Monday. The group notes that the bill as currently drafted would repeal a portion of the Clean Air Act that allows the U.S. EPA to regulate greenhouse-gas emissions, and argues that the legislation “doesn’t do nearly enough to shift America to renewable energy — so instead of a boom in solar and wind, the bill locks us into dirty coal power for another generation.”

Here’s the letter:

Dear MoveOn member,

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The U.S. House passed a huge energy bill Friday. Lots of good people are applauding the passage of this legislation. But here’s the ugly truth:

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Big Oil and Coal lobbyists, working in cahoots with some conservative Blue Dog Democrats, weakened the bill terribly—it now falls far short of President Obama’s campaign vision to transition America’s economy to clean energy and create millions of new jobs.

In fact, the bill repeals a key part of the Clean Air Act and doesn’t do nearly enough to shift America to renewable energy—so instead of a boom in solar and wind, the bill locks us into dirty coal power for another generation.

Working with progressive champions in the House, we were able to achieve modest gains at the eleventh hour (see details below). But saving the Clean Air Act and fixing other problems with the bill as the fight moves to the Senate will require a massive grassroots outcry.

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So we have a decision to make: Should MoveOn launch a full-court press to fix the bill, and turn up the heat on senators who might be tempted to side with Big Oil and Coal?

Click to vote:
“Yes. Let’s fight to save the Clean Air Act and fix the energy bill.”
“No. I don’t think we should do that.” (And tell us why.)

We’ll go forward if 2/3 of us who vote think it makes sense.

It’s not necessarily an easy choice. Of course we won’t stop working on health care or other issues, but this will require significant resources. All of us will need to pitch in to make sure our senators get the message. And there are certainly thoughtful people who say the bill is the best we can do, and we should focus solely on passing it.

You can read differing views on the bill from a variety of leading experts by clicking here. But here’s one indication of how far it got weakened:

During the floor debate last week, conservative Democrats openly bragged that the bill would result in “increased coal use.” They urged others to support it because the Clean Air Act rollbacks in the bill would stop President Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency from setting new rules for global warming pollution.

Most people haven’t heard much about these problems in the bill, which runs over 1,200 pages and was negotiated mostly behind closed doors. But as progressive leaders in Congress have spoken out, momentum to fix the bill has grown.

Nearly 50 members of Congress, led by Reps. Chellie Pingree and Keith Ellison, signed a letter calling for the bill to be strengthened. And Rep. Lloyd Doggett was one of several who spoke out on the day of the vote, saying, “The fine print [in the bill] betrays its laudable purpose. The real cap is on the public interest and the trade is from the public to the polluters.” A few even voted against the bill to spotlight its problems.

To win in the Senate, we need to make sure everyone understands that the Clean Air Act is under attack and highlight the other big problems with the bill. If we decide to proceed with this campaign together, we’ll boost progressive champions like those who fought in the House, and expose conservatives who do the bidding of the oil and coal industry.

It’s a big step—we’ll need to work even harder, and organize even better. And it’s up to you.

Should we go ahead with a big campaign to fix the problems with the energy bill as it moves through the Senate?

Click here to vote yes.

Thanks for all you do.

–Justin, Eli, Michael, Laura and the rest of the team

P.S. It’s disappointing that we have not yet succeeded in fixing the most severe problems with the bill. But MoveOn members’ strong advocacy, side-by-side with allied groups, made an important difference. We helped prevent the bill from getting even worse and made it moderately stronger in some ways, including:

  • Programs to increase the federal government’s use of renewable energy;
  • Significant new funding for green manufacturing, renewable energy development, and worker training for green jobs; and
  • New investments in money-saving energy efficiency programs for homes and businesses.