After four grueling days of markup work and nearly a hundred amendments, the House Energy and Commerce Committee voted in favor of the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009. The final vote: 33-25.The Chairman’s Mark of the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 introduced as H.R. 2454 by Chairmen Henry A. Waxman (CA-30) and Edward J. Markey (MA-7) is the only viable legislative opportunity we have to move the United States toward a clean energy economy. Why is this so important to us? From rising sea levels and a disappearing coastline, to more intense hurricanes, the Gulf Coast is ground -zero for the impacts of climate change. A clean energy economy will create jobs, strengthen our economy, make us more energy independent, and limit dangerous global warming pollution.However, it is clear given recent changes since the discussion draft was released that Big Oil, Dirty Coal, and other polluters are continuously working to riddle this bill with loopholes, water it down, and continue to keep America dependent on costly and dirty oil and coal, and horde billions of dollars for themselves at the expense of ordinary Americans. In the last three months alone, oil, coal, and natural gas companies have outspent environmental groups 16 to 1. The industries spent $79 million to lobby Congress, outspending the Green community’s comparatively meager $4.7 million in the same time period. Exxon-Mobil alone spent $9.3 million, almost twice the amount of money spent by the entire environmental community combined.While frustration from many in the climate and environmental community about the compromises being discussed to reach agreement on this bill is understandable, the Gulf Restoration Network believes it is critical to channel this energy constructively to achieve the win that we need: to pass U.S. climate legislation strong enough to withstand international scrutiny before the Copenhagen Climate Conference in December of 2009, demonstrate U.S. leadership, and strengthen our negotiating power to bring in other heavy emitters like China and India to an international treaty. At the same time, we will continue working with our allies to explore ways to strengthen the legislation, and continue to promote these ways to our members of Congress.We will be calling on our members and allies to become engaged in this epic political battle. Please be on the lookout for upcoming action alerts targeting our members of Congress, and more importantly, TAKE ACTION. Members of Congress are literally tallying up the numbers of letters, emails, faxes, and phone calls that they are receiving regarding the ACES legislation. It is up to us as citizens to send our members of Congress that we demand bold, immediately solutions to the climate problem, and to let them know that it will take action at the federal level to protect our coast and communities.Jonathan Henderson is the Louisiana Global Warming Organizer for GRN and our partner on this effort, the 1Sky Campaign. For more information, please contact Jonathan Henderson at Jonathan@healthygulf.org.