Every Vote Against This Bill Makes Oil Companies Happier

Tony KreindlerThis post is by Tony Kreindler, media director for the National Climate Campaign at Environmental Defense Fund.

The coming vote on the Climate Security Act is our best chance to pass climate legislation this year – something the science, the politics, and the economics say we need NOW. If you’re still not sure we need rapid action to cut greenhouse gases, read this. Now is the time to act.

Even if we fall short of enacting a new law in 2008, this vote is a critical opportunity for Senators to stand up and go on record as supporting urgent action on climate change. Anything else will take away from the momentum to act. The bottom line is this: People who oppose this bill are giving comfort to the oil companies.

After all the votes are counted, win or lose, the number of yes votes is will be interpreted as the number of Senators who support meaningful action against global warming. In news reports, in history books, no one’s going to care that the fine print reads “plus three more Senators who were so serious about action that they voted against this bill, hoping an even tougher one would come along.”

The more Senators that vote for this bill, the stronger will be the message that the U.S. is serious about solving climate change. We need that message to be loud and clear – for the House, where legislation is also starting to move; for the president (and possibly the next president), whose signature can make the bill law; for international negotiators as they work toward global reductions; and for next year’s Congress, if the fight stretches out that long.

The fewer Senators that vote for this bill, the more excuses others will have for weak action. It will be that much easier for industry lobbyists to demand escape hatches, loopholes and exceptions that make it harder to cut emissions enough to effectively address climate change. It will be that much easier for senators and House members to give in to them. And it will be that much easier for the House and the president to get away with doing less.

This entry was posted in News. Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.


  1. Posted June 3, 2008 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    Tony — you sound a little evangelical. There are many things that can go wrong on any bill, let along a bill that is supposed to “cure” one of the riskiest and most uncertain problems ever.

    I’d prefer to see a “why, why not?” post, since I am sure (without reading) that there are many troubling issues in this bill.

    That said, action is important. I’d vote for anything that can be adjusted or reversed (see also ETHANOL)

    [[advertising link removed]]

  2. bbond
    Posted June 3, 2008 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

    Tony, we disagree. CREDO Action from Working Assets opposes the bill as written.

    Lieberman Warner doesn’t provide for what scientists say we need — 80 percent reductions by 2050. And it rewards polluters by giving away rather than auctioning emissions credits.

    A key paragraph from our explanation on why we are opposing the bill:

    “We have asked many environmental groups with whom we work closely to explain to us the logic by which a vote in favor of the current Lieberman-Warner legislation advances the cause, and are not convinced by the answers. All too often the answers seem circular to us – we cannot afford to wait but a bigger vote this year even on a weak piece of legislation builds momentum for next year. We wish our environmental allies well in most areas, but we part company on this one. Global warming legislation should get us to an 80 percent reduction in CO2 without giving away hundreds of billions of dollars to the very companies that got us in this mess in the first place. Clearly, elections matter, and Mr. Bush has performed magnificently in giving CO2 polluters more years of high profits. Environmental groups would be better served by getting a clean vote on the right targets and letting the public know who is serious and who just wants to fiddle while the planet burns.”

    You can read our entire blog post on why we’re opposing Lieberman Warner here:

    You can tell your senators to vote no by signing our petition here:

    Becky Bond
    Political Director
    CREDO Action / Working Assets

  3. wendywaterwoman
    Posted June 3, 2008 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

    Is it true that this legislation provides massive giveaways to the worst polluters while guaranteeing that greenhouse gases will be reduced less than the scientific consensus requires? If so – why the giveaways?

  4. Posted June 3, 2008 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

    I don’t agree – this bill leaves too much on the table – and that would be for Big Oil. It is better to stop this legislation in its tracks and fight for meaningful legislation.

  5. seatail
    Posted June 3, 2008 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

    We need some straight talk here. Please describe the actual pathway by which we move from a supporting a weak bill today to supporting a strong bill tomorrow. Gaining wide support by passing a weak bill through logrolling may allow ED, NRDC and others to claim a big victory, and would certainly amount to profile-raising. However, there is a clear risk of constituents feeling that the battle has been won. Your argument about the use of being able to say that XX senators support a bill capping GHG emissions” is fair, and I do not want to underestimate it’s value. However, I see no discussion in your post of how we transition from supporting a weak bill that does not seriously address climate change to one that actually does send “the message that the U.S. is serious about solving climate change”.

    You will be more convincing when you lay out this argument.

  6. mfrancis
    Posted June 3, 2008 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

    Becky is right. McCain’s traveling press secretary said, “He wants to support the bill, he supports the goals of the bill, but he believes a comprehensive nuclear component needs to be added to it.” I say, Nuclear subsidies are Obscene.

    And why should we allow free emissions permits? ALL permits must be Auctioned and the proceeds should benefit public programs and promote investment in clean energy technologies.

    The Union of Concerned Scientists calls on activists to step up their efforts by urging senators to help strengthen the bill and oppose any weakening amendments. Specifically, they ask senators to:

    * Require science-based emission reductions of at least 80 percent by 2050 and ensure that the Environmental Protection Agency adjusts this target if the National Academy of Sciences finds that we are not on track to avoid dangerous warming.
    * Eliminate or significantly reduce free emission allowances for polluters. Proceeds from auctioned allowances and any free allowances should benefit public programs and promote investment in clean energy technologies.
    * Oppose attempts to provide additional subsidies for coal or nuclear power, which already receive substantial benefits under this bill.
    Letter From Mary Francis to about 200 friends —
    Subject: Compromised global warming bill (Climate Security Act)
    Environmentalist Friends,
    Drat these spineless Dems! Working Assets is right! (See below.) We can call these critters at night (free cell calls) and leave a voice message.

    ******Isn’t this worth an hour of an environmentalist’s time?*******

    I called 25 congress members in just under one hour. A list containing 28 swing votes in the senate is attached.

    Mary Francis

    P.S. Tell the fiscal conservatives:

    “Columbia University economist Geoff Heal found that the cost of inaction far outweighs the cost of addressing climate change. The costs of cutting emissions to safe levels would be between 1 and 2 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), he said, while the costs of allowing climate change to proceed unabated would be on the order of 10 to 20 percent of GDP.”
    (This is on the UCS website.)

    As a longtime member of the Environmental Defense Fund, I urge you to spend more energy on improving the bill. Once those corporations get a Nuclear Subsidy or a Free Permit, it will be like pulling hen’s teeth to cancel.

    Mary Francis

  7. Posted June 3, 2008 at 10:14 pm | Permalink

    God, what nonsense! It apparently matters not at all to you [[abusive name-calling removed]] that there’s no science to demonstrate anthropogenic greenhouse gas as a cause of a “global warming crisis.” Go back to the 12th Century, all of you.

    Want numbers? Working Group 1 Report of the IPCC, FAQ: the radiative forcing due to ALL anthropogenic greenhouse gasses is 1.6 watts/square meter. That causes a warming of 0.16 C, or 0.3 F. Far too small to actually observe, of course. Further warming due to additional CO2 is logarithmically smaller.

    Remember [[abusive name calling removed]] the warmest year in American history is 1934. Ask Jim Hansen at NASA/GISS. He finally (August 2007) got it right.

    Hell will freeze over – and most of Earth as well – before this nonsense becomes law.

  8. webcore
    Posted June 4, 2008 at 7:47 am | Permalink

    Surely, these statistics are irrelevant here. Isn’t it more important to recognise that the human race is poisoning it’s own air supply by emitting thousands of tons of gaseous and particulate pollutants everyday?
    Dismissal is rather like the mentality of the 12th, or rather the 14th Century where waste was thrown into the streets and allowed to accumulate. That had some fairly severe consequences to the general health of the population.
    Now we’re throwing waste into the sea and air.
    I care not for the cause of global warming, because while the petty blame arguments continue, we are still poisoning ourselves.

  9. billsamuel
    Posted June 4, 2008 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

    This bill would give more than a half trillion dollars in subsidies to major polluters! I don’t understand how an environmental group can support that. Our Congress critters tend to turn everything into an opportunity for giveaways to monied special interests, but we don’t have to support this nonsense. I have written both my Senators telling them to vote against this bill, and instead work for a REAL climate change bill.

    I don’t like seeing EDF becoming the Polluters Defense Fund.

  10. Posted June 4, 2008 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

    Dear Webcore –

    Thank you for your response; I agree in part, but only in part. Like you, I object to the emission of “gaseous and particulate pollutants.” Carbon dioxide (CO2), however, isn’t a pollutant. Bear in mind that all life on this planet is carbon-based – plants, animals, and, of course, humans. Plants get their carbon out of the air, in the form of carbon dioxide. If, somehow, all CO2 were removed from the atmosphere, we’d all die from starvation. But I agree with your basic premise that harmful pollutants (ozone, nitrous oxides, mercury, sulfur) in our atmosphere should be minimized. That’s why we (already) have a Clean Air Act. BTW, next time you’re at the garden center, take a deep breath – the air inside the plant nursery is enhanced with triple CO2. I promise it won’t hurt you.

    Additionally, I fear you confuse statistics with physics. The physical relationship between the return radiation from man-made CO2 in the atmosphere and the heating it causes (1.6 watts per square meter and a warming of 0.3 F) is one of cause and effect. The Lieberman-Warner bill proposes to reduce the CO2 cause – at outrageous expense – for an undetectable reduction of effect.

    So, a cause-effect relationship, documented by the IPCC, is not irrelevant. It’s essential in a cost-benefit analysis: how much benefit do we realize from the cost of implementing the Climate Protection Act? Answer: no benefit, but billions of dollars of cost. Not a good tradeoff. Resources that could be better used – much better used – for real problems like poverty and disease and reduced dependence on hostile governments would be wasted instead on a power grab by politicians.

    I oppose the Climate Protection Act not because I love Big Oil, but because I detest junk science. The “global warming crisis” is the biggest piece of junk science I’ve seen yet. The campaign to reduce atmospheric CO2 is riddled with junk science.

    Incidentally, here’s another statistic you won’t like (but is still relevant). World atmospheric temperature in May, measured by the Microwave Sounding Unit (MSU) on NOAA satellites, was colder than average, the fourth coldest May since satellite records began in 1979. That’s part of a trend observed in surface data as well. The warming the EDF warns us against isn’t happening.


  11. mfrancis
    Posted June 5, 2008 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

    You outted yourself in your first ugly screed to the “crackpots”.

    To Tony, Becky, Scriptmonkey, billsamuel:

    One of the members of the IPCC is a personal acquaintance to whom I have spoken several times. The projections of the IPCC (as scary as they were) have already been shown by the observed data of the last two years to be far too conservative. The 4th coldest May is simply one month (an outlier) while the climate warming trend over the last two centuries is still moving up. You can’t look at one tree and call it a forest. We are well into this problem and will not be able to turn it around unless we start now and act forcefully.

    I repeat: Once those corporations get a Nuclear Subsidy or a Free Permit, it will be like pulling hen’s teeth to cancel. If the nuclear industry gets their way, the problem will only get worse.

    Call the Senate 1-800-927-6464 and ask for the Senator of your
    choice. Talk to as many as you can. They are listed at:

    Thanks. My grandchildren and yours will thank you, also.
    Mary Francis

  12. Posted June 5, 2008 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

    No name calling here. Posts that are not civil and polite are subject to deletion.

    Thank you.

  13. Posted June 8, 2008 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    A recent post, quoting a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), dismissed the recent very cold month of May 2008 (worldwide) as “just an outlier.”

    Well, the poster didn’t say the IPCC person is a scientist, and obviously he/she isn’t. Outliers are what science is all about – the exceptions that test the rule. If you can’t explain apparent data anomalies, something’s wrong with your theory. Here’s an example from global warming:

    Between 1990 and 1998, US temperature took a strange dip (according to the National Climate Data Center (NCDC); their ranks were as follows: 105, 95, 84, 15, 88, 47, 75, 113. Mostly quite warm years – except for 1993. 15? Clearly an outlier – how to explain it?

    The answer, of course, is the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in 1991, which threw an enormous quantity of dust and sulfate aerosol into the stratosphere, which slowly spread around the world. This result of major volcanic eruptions is well known from history; 1816, following the eruption of Tambora in Indonesia, was known as “The Year Without a Summer.” It’s a perfectly reasonable explanation, and the cold year of 1993 “proves” nothing about global warming.

    On the other hand, Newton’s Laws of Motion were accepted for 200 years; they were even used to predict the existence and position of unseen planets based on perturbations of visible planets. There was just one small “outlier” – the orbit of Mercury was just a little off in its timing. In 1905, an obscure patent clerk named Einstein offered an explanation, based on curvature of space (and time) by the mass of the Sun; in 1922, observation of Mercury confirmed Einstein’s prediction. All of a sudden, Newton’s marvelous laws went from The Truth to Pretty Close but Not Quite Right. That’s what an outlier can do, if you can’t come up with an explanation. Science is not about proving a theory is “right” (and it’s probably impossible to do so); science is about proving a theory is WRONG.

    BTW, The Teaching Company offers a course called “Science Wars: what scientists know and how they know it” by Steven Goldman. The concept just cited – that science is about falsifying theories – is generally accepted in science, and well discussed by Professor Goldman.

    That’s one of several reasons the IPCC “science” isn’t science. These people have one theory – CO2 causes terrible global warming – and their endeavor is to prove it “right.” That’s not science, that’s propaganda. The real scientists are outside the IPCC “consensus”, trying to prove it false, which is what scientists are supposed to do. For that, we are called “Flat Earthers” and “Deniers” (with an echo of “Holocaust Deniers”) by Mr. Gore. Having recently returned from working in Israel, I’m not flattered to be associated with the likes of Mahmoud Ahmadinijad and other anti-Semites.

    So now you know why “outliers” like the quite cold worldwide temperature of May 2008 are important. Perhaps mfrancis and her friends would also wish to learn that, according to the National Climate Data Center


    Spring 2008 (March, April, May) in the United States (48 contiguous states) was 0.5 F below the 20th Century average, at 51.39 F. It ranks as #37 in the 114 years of temperature climatology. And no, there weren’t any major volcanic eruptions in the last two or three years to explain this “outlier.” Just more evidence that manmade greenhouse warming is unimportant.

    By way of more well-deserved discouragement for people who think the late Boxer-Warner-Lieberman Bill will help anyone (other than lobbyists), the Copenhagen Consensus Center (including 5 Nobel Laureates in Economics) agreed last week that the least useful investment in improving life for the developing world is global warming mitigation. That crackpot idea came in #30 in a list of 30 proposals to help the world’s poor. Too bad Mary Francis – who cares so much about her grandchildren and those of her friends – has no such concern for children who are starving and dying of disease now in the Third World.

    Indeed, the unrealistic Ms. Francis opposes the use of nuclear power as well as fossil fuels. I thought the general topic – however unscientific – of this blog was stopping global warming. Other than mining the uranium fuel and transporting it, nuclear power has no effect on warming. Ms. Francis seems determined to stop all industrial use of energy. That’s not a world in which anyone’s grandchildren will thrive; it’s the world of hunter-gatherers and a 40 year lifespan.


  14. webcore
    Posted June 8, 2008 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

    so what do YOU suggest, luckyleif – you like to have an answer for everything else – solve the problem for us if everyone is talking nonsense – you have many criticisms but no answers

    i don’t care whether co2 is a pollutant, a greenhouse gas or your farts, we are putting more into the air than we should, nor do i care for your endless quoting of meaningless lies, damn lies and statistics – it changes nothing

    your rhetoric sounds to me, exactly like the misinformation of big oil/nuclear or the bush government

    lead, follow or get out of the way