Senate Climate Legislation: Raise Your Voice Today!

| 7/2/2010 9:59:39 AM

Because multiple bills are brewing in the Senate, this is a critical summer for clean energy legislation. Many of our opportunities to halt the climate crisis, end our dependence on foreign oil and create economic revival through renewable energy depend on what we tell the Senate right now. In addition to my internship at Mother Earth News this summer, I am also a coordinator for the campaign Repower America and am working to build support for the Senate to pass climate legislation. Read about this legislation below, and then help us take action by contacting your own Senators — more information in a few paragraphs. solar panels3 

The Senate plans to look at a few proposed bills in July, and elements of each will probably form one combined climate bill. Here is an overview of the legislation:

Maria Cantwell and Susan Collins’ CLEAR Act includes a cap-and-trade plan, along with an emissions reduction of 20 percent by 2020 and 83 percent by 2050. The idea is to set the cap at emissions levels of 2012 and lower it incrementally each year. Most of the revenue generated by cap-and-trade will return to Americans. However, no one knows where emissions levels will be in 2012, when the cap starts, so the claims are somewhat difficult to measure.  

Senators John Kerry and Joe Lieberman have proposed the American Power Act, which claims the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050. It creates a cap-and-trade mechanism, puts funding toward public transportation and expands funding for clean energy research and development, including projects such as carbon sequestration. But be aware: Carbon limits won’t be implemented until 2013 and manufacturers are not subject to this cap until 2016. Plus, critics claim that industrial pollution-emitters will get too many free allowances to adjust to the new industry.

New Mexico Senator Jeff Bingaman has introduced an energy bill that mandates utilities to get 15 percent of their energy from renewable sources by 2021. However, he has not included a carbon cap, and critics have accused Bingaman’s bill of giving too many handouts to energy companies.

Senator Richard Lugar’s bill is by far the tamest, with a goal of 20-percent emissions reduction by 2030. There’s no carbon cap to ensure that utilities meet these standards. Other components: The bill phases out some coal plants, expands energy-efficient retrofits and construction codes and requires that auto fuel-economy improves by 4 percent every year.

t brandt
7/15/2010 9:28:37 PM

We need to separate the problem of fossil fuel depletion & the dependence of our economy on fossil fuel from the problem of political power-grabbing agenda of the current administration. Consider the false logic of carbon credit trading: will producers of carbon sinks (farmers & forresters) stop producing if there is no trading of credits? Aren't they providing sinks at the maximum rate now? How will trading credits thus produce mor sinks? The environment won't be affected, only our economy. Consider the intimate relationship between Obama and the financiers of the Chicago Carbon Exchange: Soros, GE, Gore and the Joyce Foundation et al. We do need to conserve, but not by social engineering via taxation & govt intervention in free trade. If you're smart & informed, you'll encourage your reps to vote against cap & trade.

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