HuffPo vs. EDF

Over the last week, in two separate posts, the Huffington Post has characterized EDF as, on the one hand, a sellout to the coal industry, while on the other, too aggressive in our effort to pass a hard limit on global warming.

We find these attacks confusing and wish to use this Truth Squad post to set the record straight.

First, we’ll start with the claim that we are selling out to coal.

Claim 1:

“The draft we see before us very much reflects the vision of the environmental groups leading the so-called U.S. Climate Action Partnership, including Environmental Defense and NRDC. And with these leading green groups setting the agenda, here’s what’s so telling: with billions of dollars sitting on the table, these well-known green groups leading the climate charge simply left it there — or worse yet, looked the other way while the coal industry grabbed their pile of cash.

“Why didn’t these greens insist that the revenues raised from climate regulations are actually invested in technologies that reduce global warming pollution? Why didn’t they fight to make sure that money directly supports the construction of wind turbines in the American Heartland, makes affordable solar panels a reality for every homeowner, and secures our energy independence by driving plug-in hybrid cars off assembly lines in Michigan and Kentucky? With all the rhetoric about green jobs flying around, why did no one else demand that Markey and Waxman reinvest carbon revenues to accelerate the emergence of the clean energy economy, acting as a true engine of job creation?”

Jesse Jenkins, Huffington Post, April 2, 2009


We think Jesse Jenkins should read the Waxman-Markey bill more carefully before commenting on it.

First of all, the draft bill doesn’t address how the revenue from a cap would be spent. It leaves that issue to be negotiated in Subcommittee and Committee markup. So, Jenkins is just factually wrong on that point.

What the bill does include is a series of provisions to transition America to a clean, low-carbon energy economy, including those that address many of the suggestions Jenkins offers.

You want cleaner cars? Well, the Waxman-Markey bill would authorize financial support for large-scale investments in electric cars and establish a low-carbon transportation fuel standard.

You want more wind and solar? Well, a carbon cap would significantly drive investments in these technologies. And, in addition to that, the Waxman-Markey bill would establish a renewable energy standard to require 25% of our electricity be generated from wind, solar, geothermal and other renewable energy sources by 2025.

You want a smarter electricity transmission grid? Well, the Waxman-Markey bill would direct the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to modernize the electricity grid and provide for new transmission lines to carry renewable energy.

And of course, the Waxman-Markey bill would cap and reduce America’s global warming pollution by 83% of 2005 emissions by 2050, which will unleash our clean energy future.

Our top legislative priority is to pass a national, economy-wide cap on global warming pollution. This is the most effective and efficient way to dramatically reduce America’s global warming emissions.

Without a cap, we will not guarantee the emissions reductions needed to avoid the catastrophic threats of run-away global warming. With a cap, we will send a revolutionary market signal that will unleash our clean energy future.

And, to directly answer the main charge Jenkins makes, that we are selling out to coal, our position has been clear and we think reasonable. We believe in a steady transition to 100% auction and support proposals to protect consumers and mitigate the impacts of higher energy costs, which may be more acute in states that rely on energy from coal and other fossil fuels.

Ultimately, all of these issues will be debated and decided by our political leaders who will make compromises to win the votes necessary to pass a global warming bill.

That said, we are doing everything we can to move the strongest possible bill through the House and Senate this year. The science demands quick and bold action and our priority focus must remain the economy-wide cap that guarantees pollution reductions.

If Jenkins really supports the clean energy investments he claims in his post, we urge him to read the Waxman-Markey bill. We think he’ll find a lot to like.

Claim 2:

“The Democratic Congress made a critical mistake in following the direction of leading green groups like Environmental Defense Fund and the Natural Resources Defense Council. By tossing out Obama’s energy investment plan and focusing on carbon pricing and regulation, Democrats allowed Republicans to quickly and easily frame the entire debate around increased energy prices and economic costs. That’s a fight Republicans take up with relish — and one they will surely win.”

Teryn Norris, Huffington Post, April 8, 2009


Talk about fiddling while Rome burns.

First of all, no one is suggesting “tossing out Obama’s energy investment plan.” In fact, we have celebrated the depth and breadth of the Administration’s commitment to our clean energy future, one that includes a commitment to capping America’s global warming pollution.

But, we think Norris is missing the larger point.

Putting aside the obvious flaw in his political argument – does anyone believe the opposition wouldn’t make a stink out of “wasteful government spending” on renewable energy programs – Norris doesn’t grasp the ecological imperative to get serious about global warming action.

Transitioning America’s economy away from carbon-based fuels will require trillions of dollars in investments. There is no way the federal government alone can possibly spend enough on renewable energy programs to solve the problem.

That is precisely why a cap on global warming pollution is urgently needed. A cap sends a market signal that the days of spewing out millions of tons of carbon pollution into the earth’s atmosphere by burning cheap, carbon-based fuels are over.

A cap will unleash our green energy economy by shifting America’s entire energy market toward the clean, renewable, carbon-constrained technologies we need to solve the climate crisis.

It will require political courage to take this on. We fully acknowledge and do our best to respond to the misleading political charges from climate action opponents.

But, make no mistake – the suggestion that subsidies alone can solve our climate crisis is not a serious point.

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