Climate 411

New Momentum to Pass a Carbon Cap in 2009

The House Energy and Commerce Committee just approved landmark climate change legislation, the American Clean Energy and Security Act.

EDF president Fred Krupp said it this way: “The committee today put climate legislation on the path to the President’s desk.”

This vote is much more than a procedural milestone. To pass this bill, the committee had to bridge regional differences among its diverse membership. It succeeded in producing a strong bill that can win broad support in the House and serve as a template for quick Senate action.

The bill, also known as the Waxman-Markey bill, draws on key provisions of a legislative blueprint negotiated by the 25 leading companies from every sector of the U.S. economy and the five non-profit groups in the U.S. Climate Action Partnership. Committee action on the bill also drew support from labor unions like the United Auto Workers and the Steelworkers, faith groups, and state and local officials.

The timing couldn’t be better.  Fred Krupp says, “As the President’s economic advisors said this week, a cap on global warming pollution is essential to our economic recovery and our long-term financial health.”

We look forward to action by the full House this summer.

Posted in Climate Change Legislation / Comments are closed

New Ads: USCAP Calls on Congress to Cap Carbon and Unleash Innovation

Ad placed by USCAP in various publications today.Today, in an ad running in four Capitol Hill publications, the United States Climate Action Partnership (USCAP) is calling on Energy and Commerce committee members to advance the American Clean Energy and Security Act.

USCAP is a coalition of businesses and environmental organizations that have come together to call on Congress to cap carbon emissions. With the introduction of the American Clean Energy and Security Act, USCAP released a statement [PDF] on the legislation, and followed with this landmark coalition ad.

The ad references USCAP’s Blueprint for Legislative Action, which spells out how a cap on carbon emissions will protect the U.S. economy and our environment.

The Energy and Commerce committee is expected to vote the American Clean Energy and Security Act today.  We have been following the mark-up of the bill, and debunking the nay-sayers latest myths. Stay tuned for more updates.

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Fact Check from Climate Hearings: Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA)

This bill would give the “global warming Gestapo” the power to throw senior citizens out of their homes, if the homes are not up to energy-efficient building standards. “A senior citizen whose home is destroyed by a tornado .. and she wants to rebuild .. if she doesn’t rebuild according to the rules in this bill .. she is declared an unlawful occupant of her own home.” —  Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA-01)

First of all, state and local laws already require construction to meet current codes when homes are built or re-built. So, there’s nothing new here.

And it’s a good thing — it’s how we make sure homes are safe, healthy, livable and efficient. It’s also how we make sure senior citizens (and everybody else) aren’t taken advantage of by shoddy or unscrupulous builders.

What the Waxman-Markey bill does is set some broad national efficiency targets for new construction. The bill leaves it up to cities, states and building code associations to decide how to meet them — based on local weather and climate, cost-effectiveness for the region and local preferences.

In other words — pretty much the same system we’ve got now.

More importantly, the national efficiency targets require that code changes are cost effective and save people money on their power bills. Senior citizens would appreciate lower utility bills at least as much as anyone else. They would be unlikely to argue strenuously against a provision that will immediately reduce their monthly expenses and will ultimately put more money in their pocket.

As for “global warming Gestapo” .. we don’t think cute alliteration justifies anything that offensive.

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450 Poison Pills

The House Energy and Commerce Committee continues to slog through debate on the American Clean Energy and Security Act. Debate has been slow because opponents of the bill plan to introduce a whopping 450 amendments. You might think the unusually high number of amendments shows genuine concern about the issue, but some of the proposed measures are truly bizarre.

Among the amendments that opponents say they’ll introduce are provisions to eliminate all the tax benefits for any business in USCAP — a group of major corporations that support a carbon cap. USCAP includes companies like PepsiCo, Shell Oil, Duke Energy, PG & E and Johnson & Johnson.

Another proposed provision specifically targets a much smaller, non-profit group — us. That amendment would call specifically for reviewing the tax status of Environmental Defense Fund.

Those amendments haven’t been introduced yet, but they’re still on the list of 450 so that could materialize at any time. It’s hard to imagine how these actions would benefit the debate over climate change.

Perhaps opponents have no substantial ammunition with which to attack this bill?

Posted in Climate Change Legislation / Comments are closed

Fact Check from Climate Hearings: Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL)

The Waxman-Markey bill is “centralization run amok” and will lead to the federal government dictate what cars people drive, what fuel they use, and eventually how far they can live from their place of business — Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL)

Actually, the beauty of a carbon cap is that it allows the free market to determine the best and most cost-effective energy technologies. The federal government does not have to pick winners and losers. The technologies that work best will thrive, and more than one can thrive at the same time. Solar power may turn out to be cheap and easy in the Southwest, wind power on the Great Plains, and wave power along the Pacific coast. Reliance on a single fuel source, like oil, leads inevitably to centralization. A carbon cap will lead to exactly what Rep. Shimkus wants — less federal government control and more power in the hands of individuals and the free market.

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Fact Check from Climate Hearings – 5/19/09

The Waxman-Markey bill will increase utility bills. – Mike Rogers (R-MI)

Yes, it will.  By roughly what it costs to brew one pot of coffee in the morning, and substantially less than a pack of chewing gum.  EPA estimates this bill will cost the average American household as little as $98 per year – in other words, about a dime a day per person.

That’s nothing compared to what will happen to Planet Earth, and the economy, if we fail to reduce greenhouse gas emissions — punishing heat waves, droughts, water shortages, sea level rise that threatens coastal cities, food shortages around the world, intense hurricanes, and more.  Even the military is worried about the national security implications.  One never hears about these costs from the opponents of this bill – either because they don’t even believe global warming is real, or they refuse to believe what scientists are saying about the future consequences of inaction.

This bill will increase unemployment. It’s in the bill. – Mike Rogers (R-MI)

Jobs are created and destroyed in a market economy on a daily basis.  But new jobs — good jobs — will be created as U.S. companies ramp up production of clean energy technologies. The Energy Information Agency of the Department of Energy has predicted that total manufacturing employment will be roughly the same in the year 2030 under cap and trade versus business as usual.

These new jobs will come in dynamic new industries — from manufacturing, installing, and servicing green energy technologies.  EDF has created a map detailing where a carbon cap will create jobs in 14 states – go to

Green jobs are “subprime” and will disappear over time “just like leaves on a tree.” – Phil Gingrey (R-GA, yesterday)

Depends on what you call “subprime.”  Are jobs making steel for wind turbine towers “subprime”?  Are jobs making solar cells “subprime”?  Are jobs making energy-efficient windows?  How about jobs making wind turbine blades?  Or the 8,000 other component parts in a single wind turbine?  And why should these jobs disappear?  Like any machine, a wind turbine will wear out and need replacement.  In the meantime, mechanics will need to service it.  For decades, solar cells have been getting progressively more efficient.  Twenty years from now (or even sooner), it will become economically advantageous to replace the solar cells we install today, because the new cells will be more efficient.
Why are any of these jobs subprime?  Why would they disappear tomorrow?

China and India won’t sign on. – Mike Rogers (R-MI)

The U.S. is the undisputed economic, political, and military leader of the West.  Among Western nations, we are also the largest single emitter of greenhouse gas pollution.  One guarantee: China and India will not cap their greenhouse gas emissions unless the U.S. moves first.  But once the U.S. passes an emissions cap, then China and India can no longer use U.S. inaction as an excuse not to cap their carbon pollution. A cap and trade bill will unleash the entrepreneurs and venture capitalists in the U.S. waiting for Congress to act.  The new, green technologies they create can be manufactured here, used to reduce our emissions, and exported to nations like China and India.

This legislation will run off jobs to other countries that emit more carbon. – Steve Scalise (R-LA)

If you haven’t slept through the past 30 years, you’ve probably noticed that jobs have been “running off” to other countries for a long time.  Those larger trends will continue, as the U.S. continues its shift from a manufacturing to a service economy, for better or worse. A cap and trade bill, however, will help create U.S. manufacturing jobs.

A single wind turbine, for example, contains 250 tons of steel, along with 8,000 parts, from copper wire, gearboxes, and ball bearings to electronic controls.  A wind turbine tower contains more than 50 tons of steel.  Jobs making these components can be created here in America.  Reducing our carbon emissions will create jobs manufacturing other renewable energy technologies, manufacturing and installing advanced windows for energy efficient buildings, and making thousands of other products in America.

This bill picks winners and losers. – Nathan Deal (R-GA)

Again with the winners and losers thing.  For readers who didn’t see yesterday’s response:  The whole point of the cap and trade approach is to let private markets, not government, pick winners and losers.  We can all agree that government doesn’t do this well.  (See:  oil shale, 1970s.)  The private carbon market will reward companies that adopt the cheapest and most efficient technologies for reducing carbon.  See EDF’s Cap and Trade 101.

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