Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Boxer-Kerry Clean Energy Jobs & American Power Act

Sep 30: Following preliminary releases of two different versions of a Senate Climate Change bill, Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, and Senator John Kerry (D-MA), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, hosted an event to introduce the official Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act. They were joined by a broad coalition which they said showed "support for action in the U.S. Senate to address global warming." They were joined by Democratic Members of the EPW committee and other senators, as well as leaders from the business, faith, national security, energy and environmental community, and local and state officials.

According to a release from Senators Kerry and Boxer, the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act will cut carbon pollution and stimulate the economy by creating millions of jobs in the clean energy sector. Senator Kerry said, "This is a security bill that puts Americans back in charge of our energy future and makes it clear that we will combat global climate change with American ingenuity. It is our country’s defense against the harms of pollution and the security risks of global climate change. Our health, our security, our economy, our environment, all demand we reinvent the way America uses energy. Our addiction to foreign oil hurts our economy, helps our enemies and risks our security. By taking decisive action, we can and will stop climate change from becoming a ‘threat multiplier’ that makes an already dangerous world staggeringly more so. I want to thank my partner in this important legislative mission, Senator Barbara Boxer, for helping to craft a bill that can put millions of Americans back to work, invest in homegrown innovation, and safeguard our children’s health and our environment.”

Senator Boxer said, “We know clean energy is the ticket to strong, stable economic growth -- it's right here in front of us, in the ingenuity of our workers and the vision of our entrepreneurs. We must seize this opportunity, or others will move ahead. This is our time. Global warming is our challenge. Economic recovery is our challenge. American leadership is our challenge. Let's step up right now. Let's not quit until we have fulfilled our responsibility to our children and our grandchildren. It is an honor to work side by side on this important legislation with Senator Kerry, who recognized very early that this issue is about America’s national and economic security.”

In advance of the Democrats release of the bill, Republicans on the EPW Committee, lead by Ranking Member Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), outspoken critic of climate change science and legislation, sent a letter to Chairman Boxer urging the introduction of "a complete cap-and-trade bill with no placeholders." Senator Inhofe said in a statement, “My hope is that Chairman Boxer avoids repeating the process of pushing climate change legislation in the House, in which key portions of the bill were inserted at the last minute, and the American people were left guessing as to how it would impact their energy costs, their jobs, and America’s energy security. We must have a fair, open, and transparent process so we can have a debate on the facts and the substance of legislation with all its provisions, no matter how politically sensitive they may be.”

In their letter, the Republican Senators indicate in their letter, "We understand that your bill, as currently drafted, is incomplete in several important respects -- most notably, it lacks a formula to determine the allocation of emission allowances. Leaving out these and other key provisions makes it impossible to get an objective estimate of the economic impacts of your bill on consumers, especially those in energy-intensive regions that rely on coal for electricity and manufacturing for jobs. Moreover, farmers, families and workers have no way of gauging how acutely they will be affected from job losses, higher electricity, food, and gasoline prices. . ."

Several documents are available including: a Bill Overview; a Bill Summary; a summary of the Pollution Reduction and Investment (PRI) is a mechanism; and a Section By Section Summary (See links below).

Some early reactions to the Senate legislation were available from : The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC); Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS); Greenpeace; Center for Biological Diversity (CBD); Friends of the Earth (FOI); and the American Petroleum Institute (API).

NRDC said, “This bill will help curb climate change, strengthen our economy, and make our country more secure. It will help generate jobs, reduce our reliance on foreign oil and create a healthier future for all of us. . . This is the right step at the right time. It confronts the growing problem of global warming head-on – before it’s too late to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. It calls for a 20-percent cut in carbon emissions by 2020. That’s a strong and achievable goal. It will reduce the carbon pollution that causes global warming, while accelerating the move to a clean energy future for our country. A new analysis from UC Berkeley confirms that clean energy and climate legislation can strengthen our economy and create jobs. According to the report, comprehensive energy legislation with strong efficiency measures can create as many as 1.9 million jobs between 2010 and 2020.”

UCS said, "A stronger short-term target makes scientific sense. U.S. emissions levels are now lower than expected, so we're already well on our way to meeting these goals. Additionally, more of the carbon dioxide we're emitting today is staying in the atmosphere because the ocean is absorbing less carbon from the air. That means early cuts in emissions are even more critical to keep temperatures down and prevent the worst consequences of climate change."

Greenpeace said, "While the language the Senate unveiled today contains some improvements over the House bill, it fails to commit the US to meaningful, science-based greenhouse gas emissions reductions needed to protect us from runaway climate change. This proposal meets neither the needs of science nor those of the international community, which is currently negotiating the landmark climate treaty. . . the legislation only proposes to cut emissions by 7 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 while the Nobel Prize winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change indicates that developed countries must cut emissions at least 25% – 40% under 1990 levels by 2020."

CBD said, "The Kerry-Boxer climate bill marks a baby step forward in the ever more urgent fight against climate catastrophe, but much bolder action is needed. . . While the Senate bill recognizes the absolute necessity of stronger emissions reduction targets, the targets in the Senate bill -- like those in the House bill -- are woefully inadequate. This legislation would not save the polar bear and numerous other species and ecosystems because it simply does not go far enough quickly enough. The scientific consensus is clear: We must reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide to no more than 350 parts per million. Leading climate scientists have called for reductions of approximately 40 percent below 1990 levels to avoid climate catastrophe, and yet this bill aims to deliver only a 20-percent reduction from 2005 levels.”

FOI said, "We commend Senators Boxer and Kerry for their dedication to combating the important problem of climate change but we cannot support a bill that fails to solve the problem. Overall the draft is riddled with loopholes and does not go far enough to protect the planet."

API said, "Boxer-Kerry leaves unaddressed key elements of how it intends to constrain carbon emissions. Unfortunately, it appears to be following the pattern the House followed, which resulted in a political bidding process that picked winners and losers. The losers would be millions of Americans and American companies who rely on gasoline, diesel fuel and other petroleum products to get to work and to school and to run their businesses. . . We strongly urge the Senate not to follow the same pattern. It should craft a bill that provides equal treatment across the U.S. economy, recognizes and encourages more use of clean-burning natural gas, preempts EPA climate regulation under the Clean Air Act, and avoids the severest consequences of Waxman-Markey."

Access a release from Senators Boxer & Kerry and links to the additional documents (
click here). Access a separate release from Senator Boxer with more summary information (click here). Access the 821-page bill (click here). Access a release from Senator Inhofe and link to the letter (click here). Access a release from NRDC (click here). Access a release from UCS (click here). Access a release from Greenpeace (click here). Access a release from CBD (click here). Access a release from FOI (click here). Access a release from API (click here).