An bill proposed by Representatives Henry Waxman and Edward Markey could set a legislative precedent for a December greenhouse emissions conference Al Gore has called the "Gettysburg of the environment."

"I think it's the best way to go," SC Johnson CEO H. Fisk Johnson recently said of the bill, called the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009.

The act intends to create millions of clean energy jobs, establish national energy independence, and, perhaps most importantly, cut carbon emissions. The bill's main proposals include promoting renewable energy sources, low-carbon fuels and clean electric vehicles, as well as increased nationwide energy efficiency through a cap-and-trade program.

The bill has been the source of much debate with some environmentalists calling it too lenient on polluters and some conservatives accusing it of hampering growth. With a vote coming as early as next week, it could provide a litmus test for environmental regulation in the age of Obama.

"It needs to be strengthened, but it sets a global framework if it can pass, which I think it will," said Gore alongside Johnson at the recent Cornell Global Forum on Sustainable Enterprise.  "Our children will look back and ask 'what were you doing' or 'how did you find the moral courage?' We have a chance to solve this."

The greater impact of Waxman-Markey could be eventually felt in Copenhagen in 2009 at the United Nations Climate Change Conference, where a successor to the Kyoto Protocol is expected to emerge.

"The opportunity with the current president to take the right steps is critical," said Gore.