Over the weekend we had a little more time to look over the language in the American Clean Energy and Security Act, and have found it wanting. Check out this thoughtful statement from our Energy Program Director for the skinny on the bill and what went wrong:
Statement of Tyson Slocum, Director of the Energy Program at Public Citizen
The climate change legislation that will be debated this week is a huge disappointment. Not only will it prove a boon to energy industries, but it won’t protect consumers and may very well not even curb global warming. The first draft, penned months ago, was on track to accomplish these goals, and we applauded it as a great start. Since then, however, lawmakers have met in secret with representatives of the coal and oil industries and facilitated industry efforts to gut the bill.
The Obama administration got it right when officials released a budget that would auction 100 percent of pollution allowances. As long as pollution allowances are auctioned, the government will have the revenue necessary to mitigate energy price increases through rebates while having money to invest in the sustainable energy infrastructure we need to end our reliance on fossil fuels.
This was further reinforced by President Obama’s selection for the new chair of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Jon Wellinghoff, who said that “we may not need any” new nuclear or coal power plants because we have yet to harness the capacity of renewables and energy efficiency.
But the House of Representatives has not followed the administration’s lead.
When Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) released a draft climate bill in March, we praised it as a great first step but noted that it needed to be improved during the committee mark-up process.
But instead of a transparent process involving debate and voted-upon amendments, committee leadership conducted closed-door negotiations with polluters. The result: The bill was radically altered to accommodate the financial interests of big energy corporations while giving nothing new for the environment or for working families. This is hardly the transformation this country needs to jump-start its economy and curb climate change. This is more of the same old wait-and-see, special-interest-bailout approach that has gripped Washington for ages. (more…)