The American Climate and Energy Security Act was introduced by Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Edward Markey (D-MA) and released as a discussion draft in March. Though the original bill needed improvement, it has steadily become weaker as members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee worked on behalf of polluters. Representative Joe Barton (R-TX) who advises that people “get shade” in response to global warming, spoke for the “NO” Party when he said,
I don’t have to pass a bill. But I believe I’ve got a better chance of preventing a bad bill from getting passed than he has the chance of passing the bill he wants to pass.
Well, Mr. Barton may be right about one thing: Waxman-Markey has, thanks to the efforts of polluter allies, become (or at least moved closer to becoming) a “bad bill.”
Waxman-Markey has lost backing from environmentalists because, according to Greenpeace, it currently sets a domestic target of about 4% GHG reduction by 2020. Scientists say that the U.S. and other developed nations must achieve a 25-40% reduction in carbon emissions in order to avoid the worst effects of climate change. This goal is only possible if pollution interests are not appeased.
The bill also gives industries hundreds of billions of dollars of free pollution credits. While these provisions help satisfy those concerned about economic impacts, they allow polluters to avoid paying the true costs of their businesses. In addition, carbon offsets are included in the bill; these are seen as ineffective by many environmentalists.
A Greenpeace article says:
Worst of all, ACES would support the creation of a new generation of dirty coal-fired power plants through $10 billion worth of ratepayer subsidies for carbon capture and sequestration (CCS), a technology that has not yet been proven or even tested at large scales. You can read more about why CCS is a dangerous distraction that will not mitigate global warming impacts in our report, “False Hope: Why carbon capture and storage won’t save the climate.”
If it weren’t for its acceptance of clean dirty coal, Waxman-Markey would not be such a bad bill. It is largely a step in the right direction, and we have seen an impressive effort from its creators. But, even if the bill is a step toward addressing climate change, it is, in its current form, a step with the wrong foot, because we cannot solve our energy and environmental crisis by compromising with the people who caused the crisis. The United States will be an important player in December’s world climate talks in Copenhagen, and, if we show up with weak legislation for ourselves, how can we expect other governments to take bold action?
To wrap it up, here’s a statement from Greenpeace USA Executive Director Phil Radford, issued after Waxman-Markey’s release on May 16:
“Despite the best efforts of Chairman Waxman, this bill has been seriously undermined by the lobbying of industries more concerned with profits than the plight of our planet. While science clearly tells us that only dramatic action can prevent global warming and its catastrophic impacts, this bill has fallen prey to political infighting and industry pressure. We cannot support this bill in its current state. We call on President Obama and leaders in Congress to get back to work and produce a bill, based on science, which presents a clear road map for significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions, transforms our economy with clean, renewable energy technology, generates new green jobs and shows real leadership internationally.”