Thursday, September 20, 2007

Look Who's Writing Global Warming Legislation (Hint: It's Not Who You Might Want!)

Hill Heat's the Cunctator takes a look at which 'congress critters' have been writing global warming legislation, and it's probably not who you'd want!

When it comes to perhaps the most important legislation of the century - legislation to solve the climate crisis - who's holding the pen?

You would hope it would be people like Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chair, Senator Barbara Boxer, or House climate change champion Henry Waxman. Well, while the two have sponsored the best climate change proposals currently floating around Congress, it's unfortunately not the likes of Boxer and Waxman who are drafting the default global warming legislation that will likely be taken up by both the House and Senate this fall/winter.

According to the Cunctator, it's actually the pro-coal, pro-Detroit, anti-environment type who's got the pen, and that spells trouble for all of us. From the Cunctator's DailyKos journal:
In the House, jurisdiction over cap-and-trade legislation is under Energy and Commerce chairman John Dingell and Energy and Air Quality Subcommittee chair Rick Boucher.

In the Senate, Harry Reid and EPW chair Barbara Boxer are letting Joe Lieberman and John Warner write the default global warming bill.

  • Dingell literally represents Detroit. His wife works for General Motors.
  • Boucher is a coal-district representative who supports coal-to-liquids and tried to make California's greenhouse gas emissions law illegal.
  • Lieberman used to be a Democrat.
  • Warner has a 14% lifetime score from the League of Conservation Voters.

    Unless they're stopped, these people will write polluter-protection legislation.


    Carbon cap-and-trade legislation cannot be progressive if the greenhouse gas emissions credits (the pollution credits) are given to polluters. That protects polluting industries with a subsidizing give-away of a common resource, the atmosphere's capacity for GHG pollution.

    If the credits are auctioned, however, polluters have to pay. Furthermore, this means that the taxpayers of the United States receive the fair market value of privatizing this resource (as long as the government properly allocates the auction revenues).
  • The "bipartisan" Lieberman-Warner climate change proposal currently plans to give away 76% of the emissions allowances under the cap for free. The proposal would amount to a giant wind-fall for polluters, violating the "polluter-pays" principle that's key to effective environmental legislation and essentially giving away a public good - the atmosphere - for free.

    Additionally, the emissions reduction targets in the Lieberman-Warner proposal are mediocre and are a slow start to cleaning up our act. Unlike Boxer and Waxman's proposals, the Lieberman-Warner proposal doesn't put us on a track to a carbon neutral and prosperous America, which should be our ultimate target.

    Lieberman recently indicated he's thinking about reducing the amount of allowances given away for free (and auctioning more of them), but at this point he's just thinking about it. And so far, the mediocre emissions reduction targets haven't budged.

    As Adam Siegel writes, with the likes of Dingell, Boucher, Lieberman and Warner in the drivers seat, "we -- that means you -- should be contacting your representatives to influence the process."
    Start with, if you wish, Congress.ORG, write your representative, send in a letter to the editor [and I would add, send a letter to Lieberman too].

    Action items for today's letter:

    1. Support Citizen, not special interest, Ownership of Pollution Credits -- it is our air that we are seeing polluting, make them pay us for dirtying our air. NO GIVEAWAYS OF POLLUTION CREDITS in Climate Change legislation.

    2. The 2050 target: a Climate Friendly Prosperous Society that will enhance human security for millenia to come. 70% by 2050 is, simply, slowing the onset of catastrophic climate change. 80% is an absolute minimum, 90% becomes reasonable, and Carbon Neutrality (actually carbon negative) should be our target. Let us reach high, for the sky, and protect ourselves and future generations.
    Other people to contact:

    Senators on the Environment and Public Works Committee

    * Barbara Boxer (Chairman)
    * Max Baucus
    * Joseph I. Lieberman
    * Thomas R. Carper
    * Hillary Rodham Clinton
    * Frank R. Lautenberg
    * Benjamin L. Cardin
    * Bernard Sanders
    * Amy Klobuchar
    * Sheldon Whitehouse

    Environmental Lobbying Groups (most haven't taken a public position on auctions and targets or on specific proposals)

    * Environmental Defense
    * League of Conservation Voters
    * U.S. PIRG
    * Sierra Club
    * NRDC
    * Union of Concerned Scientists

    As Seigel writes,

    Act ...
    Now ...
    If not us, who?
    If not now, when?

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