A group of US business firms that includes Exelon and Pacific Gas & Electric has called on the country's lawmakers to enact comprehensive climate and energy legislation this year.

The We Can Lead coalition, whose members also include brand giants such as Nike and eBay, have sent a letter to Senate majority leader Harry Reid and his Senate colleagues urging them to get climate legislation “back on track”.

The letter was sent just days after the unveiling of a proposed new climate and energy bill by three Senators was postponed. The business leaders say in their letter that the passage of climate and energy legislation in the US would spur a new energy economy, boost energy independence and reduce carbon emissions.

“Today, the United States is falling behind in the global race to lead the next global industrial revolution. US businesses need strong policies and clear market signals to deploy capital, harness innovative technologies, and compete in the global marketplace,” the letter states. “Every day the Senate fails to pass comprehensive climate and energy legislation is a day our economy falls another step behind and delays our ability to create millions of new American jobs. America’s energy future is not a partisan issue.”

The letter was signed by 175 businesses from among some of the nation’s largest electric power, manufacturing, clean tech, technology and consumer facing companies.

The delayed new climate and energy bill is designed to overcome the deep divide in the Senate over climate legislation and is viewed as the US Congress’ last chance to get legislation passed this year.

The US House of Representatives has already passed a climate and energy bill, which proposes the introduction of a cap-and-trade system to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The new bill that is headed for the Senate proposes a different route, taking a sectoral approach to cutting emissions.

The two bills would have to be reconciled and passed by both houses again before being signed into law.