Enviro and Labor Responses to Kerry-Boxer Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 30 Sep 2009 14:57:00 GMT

Today, Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) introduced the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act, the Senate version of the American Clean Energy and Security Act’s (H.R. 2454) climate provisions. Sen. Kerry introduced the bill:

For too long, Washington has let oil companies, lobbyists, and special interests maximize their profits and minimize our progress. Our dependence on foreign oil has hurt our economy, helped our enemies, and put our national security at risk. It’s time to invest in energy solutions that are made in America, and work for America. It’s time to take back control.

This bill will get tough on corporate pollution and put American ingenuity to work to dramatically improve every facet of the way America generates and uses energy. It will create millions of new, good-paying jobs, protect our air and water from dangerous pollution, and secure our children’s future by making America more energy independent. And it does not raise the federal deficit by one single dime.

Several environmental and labor organizations have responded.

Alliance for Climate Protection:

Today’s legislation introduction by Senators Barbara Boxer and John Kerry reflects significant progress in our nation’s efforts to transition to a clean energy economy that will create millions of new clean energy jobs. Their work and that of their committees should be commended. We look forward to the upcoming discussions that will further inform and forward a bipartisan bill. Right now, we have the opportunity to fundamentally transform how we generate and use energy in this country, to put ourselves back in control of our economy and national security and to assert global leadership in a new 21st century clean energy economy. By taking action this year to pass comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation, future generations will look back and know that their leaders stepped up to tackle a deteriorating economy and the specter of climate change head on, ensuring a healthy, prosperous nation.

Audubon Society:

Senators Boxer and Kerry have blended some new and vital ingredients into the recipe for a truly meaningful and comprehensive energy plan. The Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act would make a huge difference by requiring dirty power plants to clean up their acts and by establishing strong short-term emission reduction targets. Big polluters would have to slash their contributions to global warming, while the plan would help repower America with clean energy, create new jobs and cut our dangerous dependence on oil. That’s a recipe for energy success. The new measure is a big step toward the final legislation that America needs, Congress can support and the President will sign. We look forward to working with Senators Boxer and Kerry and members of the Environment & Public Works Committee to ensure the passage of a strong bill in the coming weeks.

Blue-Green Alliance:

The Blue Green Alliance commends Senators Boxer and Kerry for introducing comprehensive climate change and clean energy legislation. To truly achieve our goals of a cleaner environment and a prosperous and fair clean energy economy, we must pass comprehensive legislation that protects workers and ignites our clean energy economy. The Copenhagen negotiations are just around the corner, and it is critical that the U.S. Senate move on this legislation to send a strong message to the world.

Earthjustice:

We commend Senators Kerry and Boxer for their leadership in confronting one of the biggest challenges of our time. They share our vision of a clean energy future that addresses the heat-trapping pollutants responsible for climate change and puts America back in control of our economy, our security and our children’s future. For years we’ve relinquished control of our energy sector to other countries and to big corporate interests. Holding polluters accountable and investing in clean energy here at home will not only address the crisis of climate change but create jobs and put money back into the pockets of Americans. Naysayers ignore both the real costs of global warming and the economic benefits of a rapid shift to clean energy. They are intent on derailing and delaying action, but today’s announcement proves that momentum is building. Americans know we have everything to gain in confronting this challenge and implementing solutions.

Greenpeace:

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. This proposal comes as climate science increasingly suggests that global warming is advancing even more quickly and more broadly than predicted. A UN report released just last week projects the planet is on track to warm beyond 2 degrees Celsius, a threshold climate scientists say would create an unacceptable risk for a global climate catastrophe. Despite this urgency, 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. The threat of runaway global warming has prompted countries such as Japan, India, Indonesia and China to commit to increasingly ambitious emissions reductions in recent weeks. The Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), low-lying island nations whose very existence is threatened by sea level rise, urged world leaders last week to preserve their countries’ livelihood and survival by ensuring that global temperatures be kept as far below 1.5 degrees Celsius as possible. For years there has been scientific consensus on the perils of global warming. Now there is increasingly international political consensus on the need for bold, immediate, and coordinated action by world leaders. Unfortunately, what is still missing is a plan from the U.S. that matches our historic responsibility to address the crisis and the scale of the threat we all face. With the deadline for action at the Copenhagen Climate Summit fast approaching, we urge President Obama to assume leadership for global warming policy and to commit to negotiate a fair, ambitious and binding treaty in line with the science and not the demands of the fossil fuel industry.

Natural Resources Defense Council:

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. And it will put Americans back to work, making our country the world leader in the green technologies that are driving growth in the global marketplace. We are optimistic that the calls for clean energy and climate solutions across the country – including support from business leaders, national security experts, entrepreneurs, labor, faith groups, veterans, and many others – will lead to action by the full Senate. 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.

Laborers’ International Union of North America:

The half-million men and women of LIUNA — who work every day to build America – are pleased with the bill’s family-supporting Davis-Bacon provisions, which will help ensure that new jobs are good jobs with fair pay. The bill’s green construction careers provision invests in both workers and jobs of the future and will strengthen communities. As we move forward, LIUNA looks forward to working with the Senate to ensure that sufficient investment is also made in building weatherization, which can create good jobs, save families money and help free us from foreign oil.

Union of Concerned Scientists:

“A stronger short-term target makes scientific sense,” said Melanie Fitzpatrick, a climate scientist at UCS. “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.”

Liz Perera, a federal policy analyst in UCS’s Climate Program, said the Senate bill mirrors the House version. “The House bill’s framework is a groundbreaking approach to moving America toward a clean energy economy. Sticking with the House framework will make it easier to move forward, especially in conference committee.”

Alden Meyer, UCS’s director of strategy and policy, attended last week’s climate summit at the United Nations, where numerous heads of state emphasized the need to make substantial progress at the December climate treaty negotiations. Meyer says the Copenhagen summit provides a concrete deadline for the Senate to act. “Without strong domestic action by the United States, an ambitious climate deal in Copenhagen isn’t in the cards,” Meyer said. “The House has done its part. Now this new bill gives the Senate a solid basis for moving forward. Time is short, but with the support of President Obama and Senate leaders, the Senate can show that it’s serious about cutting emissions and send a message to the rest of the world before Copenhagen.”

Utility Workers Union of America:

Those working to supply Americans with their electricity have so much to gain from clean energy legislation, and so much to lose from inaction. Working with Senators Boxer and Kerry, we can ensure that comprehensive clean energy legislation transitions our economy to provide the investments needed to grow a long-lasting clean energy sector that will provide high-quality jobs for years to come.

World Resources Institute:

Today, the U.S. Senate moves the United States one step closer to curbing the dangerous effects of climate change while simultaneously transitioning the country to a clean energy economy. Introduction of this bill, and the input from senators representing diverse regions of the country, will allow the Senate to enact environmentally strong and economically workable legislation. Those who say this is the wrong time to act because of the economic recession are wrong. Businesses and investors need certainty, and this is a road map to transform America into the world’s leader in clean energy manufacturing, creating new industry and jobs. EIA just announced that energy demand in the U.S. is dropping. This, combined with the long-term price signal the bill sends, will allow businesses to get comfortable with the new emissions requirements at a relatively low cost and give them the certainty that the investments they make in clean technology will have value in the future. The Senate has an opportunity to spark economic growth through clean energy, and the time to act is now.

World Wildlife Fund:

We commend Senators Kerry and Boxer for their leadership in starting the process for approval of a strong climate and energy bill in the Senate this year. The introduction of this important bill builds on the momentum created by House passage of the American Clean Energy Security Act in June. Senate passage this year of a comprehensive climate and energy bill is crucial to our economic recovery and our national security; it is also vital to ensuring American leadership towards a new global partnership to fight climate change this December in Copenhagen. The urgency of climate legislation cannot be overstated. In every region of the US and every corner of the planet, we are seeing the impacts of climate change. And they are coming sooner and hitting harder than scientists predicted just a few short years ago. The longer we wait to solve this crisis, the more expensive it will be. As President Obama said last week in New York ‘our prosperity, our health, our safety are in jeopardy.’ In December, world governments will meet in Copenhagen to negotiate a global partnership to respond to this global crisis. At that time, President Obama will need clear direction from the Senate. Simply put, Senate passage this year will be critical to success in Copenhagen. The Bill demonstrates Kerry’s and Boxer’s attempt to reach a compromise that will win necessary Senate support. Although we understand the political challenges, our climate does not. We are encouraged by the improvement of the Bill’s 2020 emissions target over the version that passed the House, but this target remains too weak and compromised by too many offsets. Reductions equivalent to at least 25% below 1990 levels by 2020 are needed to contribute to a global solution that has a chance to avoid the worst impacts of climate change on our farms, water supplies and communities. The Bill should be strengthened as it moves forward. But it is imperative that we get started. This Bill is the latest chapter in a long, bipartisan conversation in the Senate about reducing dangerous carbon pollution, beginning with the introduction of the McCain-Lieberman bill in 2005 and continuing through full Senate consideration of Lieberman-Warner just last year. We look forward to working with Senators Kerry, Boxer and all interested members to bring this long debate to a close. Time is running out; this Senate action comes not a moment too soon.

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