The Skywriter

The Waxman-Markey climate bill: great first step, but must be made stronger

17
Apr

The Waxman-Markey climate bill: great first step, but must be made stronger

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Yesterday Last week we posted in the Press Room an analysis of the Waxman-Markey climate/energy draft bill that's really worth a read. This draft bill will become more and more important in the months ahead to our push for bold climate action this year. The bill is an important and encouraging first step, but could also benefit from some improvements. The analysis is comprehensive yet concise; but if you need something even more concise, here's the quick and dirty on the bill. (Update: check out other materials about the bill in our Resources page.)

The American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 would:

  • Usher America into a powerful clean energy economy that will create millions of green jobs for American workers in clean energy industries;

  • Cut waste and save billions of dollars in energy costs for consumers and businesses by increasing energy efficiency across the economy, including buildings, appliances, transportation, and industry;

  • Reduce our dangerous dependence on foreign oil and make our country energy independent through the development and use of clean renewable energy;

  • Limit global warming pollution and provide strong incentives for clean companies to prosper.

The bill is very comprehensive, but it could be made even stronger. Here's how:

  • Make stronger commitment to boldly confront global warming in the immediate and near-future. While the bill meets the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s long-term target of cutting global warming gas emissions by at least 80% by 2050, its near-term goal by 2020 is a 30% reduction, which could rely heavily on emission offsets that may be unreliable in reducing global warming pollution. The near-term 2020 emission target cuts should be at least 35% below current levels with strictly limited offsets to better meet the immediate threat of global warming to our economy and national security.

  • Protect taxpayers from paying for polluters’ mess. There should be 100% auctions of carbon emissions to guarantee that pollution is paid for by the polluters, not taxpayers.

  • Move beyond dirty coal energy. The bill relies on eventual pollution performance standards for new plants, but even with these carbon sequestration standards, coal will still be the dirtiest fuel on the planet. Since public funding for new plants with unproven CCS (“clean coal”) technology is not contingent on a high performance, the bill could funnel public money into large dirty energy projects. We will advocate for an immediate moratorium on new coal-burning plants that emit carbon pollution. Instead of funding new dirty coal plants, public funding should instead support clean renewable energy and efficiency projects that are already commercialized, proven, and affordable.

  • Provide opportunities and assistance to vulnerable communities. The bill should ensure that we maximize the creation of good, green-collar jobs and provide educational and job training assistance and tools necessary to pave the pathways into them, especially for workers and communities in older industries that are highly reliant on carbon based energy. In addition to new job opportunities, Low- and middle-income households must receive rebates to compensate for increased energy costs. We must also assist vulnerable communities worldwide as they adapt to the changing climate and transition into a low-carbon economy.

The bill analysis also features a handy chart telling you what the bill would do and how it stacks up with 1Sky's goals. Over the next few weeks, 1Sky will be working with friends, allies, and climate activists like you to strengthen this bill. Sign up today to educate your members of Congress during the April recess (going on right now!) by dropping off 1Sky materials at their district office near you.

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