Friends of the Earth Airs DC-Area "Fix or Ditch" Ads Before Primaries

Posted by Brad Johnson Fri, 08 Feb 2008 19:38:00 GMT

Friends of the Earth announced today that it is expanding its web and print “Fix or Ditch” campaign with a local network and cable ad buy before the February 12 Virginia, Maryland, and DC primaries.

The campaign, which challenges Senate Democrats to change Lieberman-Warner’s emissions targets and allowance distribution provisions (S. 2191) to reflect the platforms of the presidential candidates of their party, has drawn fire from Sen. Boxer (D-Calif.) and Environmental Defense as well as a passionate letter of support from Greenpeace.

Meanwhile, American Prospect correspondent (and Tapped co-founder) Chris Mooney challenges the Democratic platforms of 100% auction and 80% reduction in emissions by 2050 in This Will Mean the World to Us (sub. req.):
Many Democratic campaigns, responding to their environmental base, are currently outlining cap-and-trade regimes featuring a highly ambitious 100 percent auction process for the initial pollution allowances or permits, with the proceeds going to other needed public policies, such as investment in the clean-energy technologies that must ultimately supplant fossil fuels. When it comes to specifying precise reductions, meanwhile, the campaigns generally seem to agree that we need something like bringing emissions back to 1990 levels by 2020 and decreasing them by 80 percent by 2050, through a cap that becomes progressively more stringent.

An 80 percent reduction by 2050 does indeed square with what scientists think would be necessary to avoid the worst climate impacts—most notably, the loss of large bodies of land-based ice currently perched atop Greenland and West Antarctica, which, upon sliding into the ocean, would drive catastrophic sea-level rise. It’s one thing to outline a policy in the abstract, however, and quite another to get it through the next Congress. As one climate policy insider says, “The environmental community has a tendency to run their leaders off a plank; that’s what they’re setting up right now with this 80 percent reduction by 2050.”

The more moderate approach of the Lieberman-Warner bill is to reduce capped emissions (and not all emissions are included) by 70 percent by 2050. Lieberman-Warner is also pragmatic in another way: It does not set up a 100 percent auction for emissions allowances, a system that major emitters oppose. They think they should be granted allowances gratis at the outset (or as climate experts say, there should be “grandfathering”). Under Lieberman-Warner, just 24 percent of allowances would be auctioned off initially, though the percentage would increase over time. It’s far easier to get buy-in from industry in this way, and although Lieberman-Warner may have a tough time passing both houses of Congress before the election (or surviving a possible presidential veto), it may be precisely the type of bill that can sail through in 2009.

What’s achievable in climate policy seems to be changing all the time, but still we mustn’t shoot the moon. Consider the perspective of Tim Profeta, current director of Duke’s Nicholas Institute, who previously served as a chief architect of the McCain-Lieberman Climate Stewardship Act, which failed by a 55-to-43 Senate vote in 2003. “As somebody who fought for a freeze of emissions in the 2003 Congress and was told it was too aggressive, it is hard for me to believe where we are now,” Profeta says. “The current movement to require 100 percent auctions and even deeper cuts faces strong political opposition from emitters, many of whom have good arguments about what is economically feasible for their companies. I fear that we might pass up the opportunity for real action now—when it is essential to have the U.S. begin to reduce its emissions—because someadvocatescontinue to shift the objectives to stricter and stricter limits as the debate proceeds.” It’s fine for Democratic candidates, at the moment, to answer the call of environmental groups—the Sierra Club, for instance, has criticized Lieberman-Warner—and present highly ambitious cap-and-trade proposals. But after the election, the new president will need to be flexible and focus on getting a workable bill passed. It can be strengthened later as more science comes in—2050 is, after all, still far away—but we must at least begin ratcheting down emissions now.

Boxer, NRDC, ED Attack Friends of the Earth Campaign: "Defeatist", "Small", "Isolated"

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 05 Feb 2008 15:32:00 GMT

Last Thursday, Darren Samuelson of E&E News interviewed Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and an NRDC representative in response to the Friends of the Earth campaign to “fix or ditch” the Lieberman-Warner cap-and-trade bill (S. 2191). In its campaign, Friends of the Earth challenged Boxer for supporting Lieberman-Warner’s high degree of emitter giveaways and subsidies and its target of 60% reductions from 1990 levels of greenhouses by 2050, although the Democratic presidential candidates are calling for 100% auction and 80% by 2050.

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.):
Their logic doesn’t hold up. What we need to do is not waste time. If we can get a strong bill signed into law, we should get it. And if we can’t, we shouldn’t. . . . They’re sort of the defeatist group out there. They’ve been defeatists from day one. And it’s unfortunate. They’re isolated among the environmental groups.
Boxer went on to emphasize the importance of holding senators accountable on global warming through test votes.

Julia Bovey, NRDC:

We do not agree with Friends of the Earth. We are not willing to give up the fight. We believe the Lieberman-Warner bill as passed out of committee is a very strong start. That doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement.

NRDC had previously described the bill as “a strong start”.

Brent Blackwelder, Friends of the Earth president, responded:

Far from being defeatists, we’re being realists. We’re focusing on what the scientists tell us has to be done to solve global warming. It’s not acceptable to pass a bill that falls short of the science. It’s not acceptable to pass a bill that gives $1 trillion to polluters.

On Monday, Environmental Defense Climate & Air director Mark McLeod sent an email to several Senate offices excoriating Friends of the Earth for placing L-W and Boxer “under attack”, claiming that opposition in the “liberal blogosphere” to Lieberman-Warner or the passage of any climate bill in this session “will become orthodoxy if we do not present a counterview from respected pro-environment voices.”

He characterized Friends of the Earth as “small and fairly isolated” in contrast to ED and “many other major environmental groups” who “are in favor of moving forward to get a strong bill like Lieberman-Warner,” saying also that Friends of the Earth is calling for “unrealistic dramatic changes.”

The full text of McLeod’s email is after the jump.

Text of the email (verified by various sources, see also Energy Smart, the blog of the “major DailyKos contributor” named below):
From: Mark MacLeod
Cc: Elizabeth Thompson
Sent: Mon Feb 04 XXXXXXXX 2008
Subject: Need your help challenging attacks on Chairman Boxer, the EPW Committee, and climate bill


   Senator Boxer and the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act have come under attack in ads placed on liberal blogs. Some blog posts have picked up on the claims in these ads (see Environmental Defense has been defending the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act and the work of the EPW committee on these blogs and through posts on our own blog, but we feel at this point it would be very helpful to have members of the Committee voice their support for Sen. Boxer, the committee, and the LWCSA. One idea we have would be to run ads on the blog sites and we would be happy to work with your office to arrange for filming of a short statement of support. Other ideas include a joint letter from the members of the committee who voted for the bill. The more members that would participate – the stronger the message (further details below).

   Please let us know if you would consider participating in such an ad or taking other action. Time is of the essence. FYI – I am sending this message to all the offices that voted for the bill as well as other prominent supporters

   Mark MacLeod

   Friends of the Earth (FOE) is running ads against the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act, calling for killing the bill (if unrealistic dramatic changes are not made).

   – There are growing calls in the liberal blogosphere for opposition to the bill; and a general push against passing any climate bill in this Congress. This position has NOT yet solidified, but will become orthodoxy if we do not present a counterview from respected pro-environment voices.

   – A major DailyKos contributor today (2/1/08) ran a full-throat expression of the FOE point view, directly attacking Sen. Boxer for wanting to move forward and for objecting to the FOE ads.

   – Environmental Defense and many other major environmental groups (Friends of the Earth is small and fairly isolated) are in favor of moving forward to get a strong bill like Lieberman-Warner. We may differ on details and areas which require improvement, but are still pushing for action in this Congress.

   – For scientific reasons, and to take advantage of political momentum (which should not be taken for granted), we think it is important to make a strong start on global warming by passing a bill like Lieberman-Warner this year. If there are more environmental supporters in Congress in the future, we can improve it, as we did the Clean Air Act and other important first steps. Delay only makes the solution harder and more expensive.

   – We need a strong voices to stand up for Sen. Boxer, the committee, the LWCSA, and for the importance of acting NOW on climate change. Environmental Defense is interested in running ads featuring that voice on the same blogs where the FOE ad is appearing.

NWF at Power Shift on Cap-and-Auction

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 07 Nov 2007 22:44:00 GMT

At the National Wildlife Federation table at Power Shift Youth Summit:

Q: Does the National Wildlife Federation support the idea of a cap and auction system?

A: Yeah, we’ve been working for a number of years on supporting the best cap-and-trade system possible. We support 100% auction of credits, or if there is distribution, there should only be distribution for public benefit, and want to see good legislation come out of Congress. Our time for strong action is rapidly dwindling and want to see the best legislation we can possibly pass as soon as we can possibly pass it.