By a vote of 235-181, the House of Representatives passed the version of H.R. 6 which contains both House and Senate provisions (CAFE of 35 MPG by 2020, RES of 15% by 2020, oil/gas rollback with PTC, green jobs, and other provisions, RFS).
Today marks the dawn of a future with less dependence on foreign oil, more renewable energy, and a safer climate. This bill marks a turning point away from America’s untenable path of reliance on dirty fossil fuels that pollute our planet and link us to dangerous foreign regimes and towards a new energy independence future.
This historic piece of legislation represents a paradigm shift in our nation’s approach to energy. The House of Representatives has voted to begin curbing our dependence on fossil fuels and reducing our global warming pollution. We applaud the bill’s passage in the House and commend Speaker Nancy Pelosi for standing up to special interests and ensuring that key provisions remained. This energy bill is not perfect – its fuel economy standards are too weak and its biofuels mandate too large – but, on balance, it represents a strong step forward. Especially important are a provision that will require all utilities to produce some of their energy from clean sources, such as wind and solar, and provisions that will end billions of dollars of subsidies for big oil and instead use these funds to hasten America’s transition to a clean energy future.
In January, Speaker Pelosi promised to deliver energy legislation that would put us on the road toward a new, clean energy future. The energy bill that the House passed today not only puts us on that road, but pushes the accelerator to the floor. It is a dramatic pivot away from the failed energy policies of the past and sets the stage for the Senate to flip the switch on America’s new energy future.
It is a bill of firsts: the first increase in fuel economy standards in more than three decades, the first national requirement for renewable energy, the first environmentally sensitive mandate for homegrown biofuels, and the first energy bill to provide billions for clean energy instead of shoveling subsidies to Big Oil and other polluters. Instead of a pork-laden monstrosity tailored to the needs of the dirty energy industry, this bill will give us clean electricity, greener cars, provide billions for clean energy instead of Big Oil’s bottom line, strengthen our economy, make us more secure, and begin to address the challenge of global warming. It is a tremendous achievement for the Congress, but more importantly, it is a victory for the hardworking American families who are now suffering as a result of decades of failed energy policies.
Achieving these reductions at the lowest cost to the economy, however, will require strong, coordinated, economy-wide action that begins in the near future.
The report was commissioned by the environmental organizations Environmental Defense and National Resources Defense Council and the energy technology companies Honeywell, National Grid, PG&E Corporation, Shell, and DTE Energy. The Conference Board, the leading U.S. corporate think tank, endorsed the paper.McKinsey found that a broad mix of abatement options need to be followed; no one strategy accounted for more than 11% of the total abatement, noting:
In regions with high-carbon grids, energy efficiency improvements, typically through upgrades to building standards, HVAC equipment, and appliances, are likely to be the most effective and lowest-cost strategies. Conversely, sectors and regions with access to low-carbon grid infrastructure offer more compelling applications of such emerging technologies as PHEVs (plug-in hybrid vehicles).In its conclusion the report reiterated the importance of immediately implementing energy efficiency strategies, many of which end up saving more money than they cost, to “buy time” for emerging technologies to develop commercially.
We urge you to take action to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the United States that are contributing to these impacts on impoverished countries, while also putting in place substantial assistance for those countries to adapt to the widespread and serious consequences of climate change. In particular, a significant proportion of any revenue generated from climate policies, such as auctions of emission permits, should be directed to the adaptation needs of poor people and impoverished countries. To maximize those resources, policies to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions should ensure that the responsibility to pay for emissions reductions and adaptation costs are borne equitably by those who are most responsible for those emissions, such as through robust permit auctions.
The present version of Lieberman-Warner allocates 5% of auction revenues to a Climate Change and National Security Fund “to enhance the national security of the United States” and “assist in avoiding the politically destabilizing impacts of climate change in volatile regions of the world.” The August draft outline allocated 10% of auction revenues to international aid; the initial draft legislation cut those revenues to 5% and allocated 3% of emissions allowances to fighting tropical deforestation; in subcommittee markup a Barrasso amendment was adopted to instead allocate those emissions allowances to states.EE News reports:
Under the Lieberman-Warner legislation, an auction could create tens or even hundreds of billions of dollars per year in new revenue depending on how much industry pays on the market for greenhouse gas credits. If the credits sold for $10 per ton of carbon dioxide, a 10 percent slice for international adaptation would equal $1 billion.
Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) supports including international assistance for adaptation as part of the climate bill. But a Boxer aide said today that no decision has been made on changes in the distribution of the Lieberman-Warner bill’s auction revenue.
Eight environmental organizations sent a letter calling on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee to “continue the process of strengthening S. 2191, and to deliver the bill to the full Senate the first week of December.” The signatories included four members of US-CAP (NRDC, ED, NWF, Nature Conservancy), as well as the Union of Concerned Scientists, National Environmental Trust, Defenders of Wildlife, and the Wilderness Society.
The letter does does not specify how S. 2191 needs to be strengthened, though testimony of group representatives before the committee has generally agreed on the call for an 80% reduction by 2050 in emissions and opposition to any safety-valve/price-cap amendments.
In addition, a NWF representative has stated that the National Wildlife Federation supports 100% auction, and the Union of Concerned Scientists has called for 100% auction, with revenues going to efficiency and to “counteract the negative societal impacts of a carbon price.” NET has called for U.S. climate legislation to “auction a significant percent of allowances” to avoid windfall profits. NRDC has opposed grandfathering of emissions allowances to firms and believes “allowances should be held in trust for the public and distributed in ways that will produce public benefits.”
Groups who have directly responded to Lieberman-Warner with a call for 100% auction or outlined climate legislation principles (such as Sierra Club, Audobon, Physicians for Social Responsibility, U.S. PIRG, Friends of the Earth, Rainforest Action Network, and Greenpeace) were not involved in the letter.
The full text of the letter is below.
Defenders of Wildlife • Environmental Defense • National Environmental Trust
National Wildlife Federation • Natural Resources Defense Council
The Nature Conservancy • Union of Concerned Scientists • The Wilderness Society
Members of the Environment and Public Works Committee
United States Senate
456 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
November 15, 2007
Dear Members of the Environment and Public Works Committee,
We are writing to follow up on the letter of October 31, 2007, which highlighted the mounting urgency of global warming and the need for prompt action by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. Time is running out for effective action on global warming, and we need to get started now. The longer we delay, the greater the impacts and risks, and the more dramatically we will have to cut emissions in future years to achieve the same results.
We are encouraged that the committee has been holding hearings on S. 2191, America’s Climate Security Act, and that a markup has been scheduled for December 5. We believe that Senators should continue the process of strengthening the bill in committee and throughout the legislative process. We ask Senators to support those efforts and to defeat efforts to weaken the bill.
It is vitally important that the full Senate take up the issue of global warming. If not weakened in committee, this legislation provides a sensible framework for engaging the full Senate in an open debate and votes on global warming. We therefore ask members of the committee to continue the process of strengthening S. 2191, and to deliver the bill to the full Senate the first week of December.
Vice President, Government Relations and External Affairs
Defenders of Wildlife
National Environmental Trust
Executive Director, Global Warming Program
National Wildlife Federation
Director, Climate Center
Natural Resources Defense Council
Director of Climate Change Policy
The Nature Conservancy
Director of Strategy and Policy
Union of Concerned Scientists
Vice President for Public Policy
The Wilderness Society
Last week the 9th Court of Appeals issued a 90-page decision in Center for Biological Diversity v. National Highway Transportation Safety Administration/California v. NHTSA in favor of the plaintiffs. The suit was brought against NHTSA’s corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards for light trucks – i.e., SUVs – issued in April 2006, in part for NHTSA claiming that the value of reduced greenhouse gases would be zero. NRDC, ED, Sierra Club, Public Citizen, and 11 states and the District of the Columbia joined as plaintiffs.
The NHTSA is tasked by the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA) to set CAFE standards. Its April 2006 ruling raised the light truck standard from 22 to 23.5 miles per gallon by 2010.
The court agreed with the states that NHTSA must take into account greenhouse gases, as required by the National Environment Protection Act (NEPA) following the Massachusetts v EPA Supreme Court decision: “There is no evidence to support NHTSA’s conclusion that the apppropriate course was not to monetize or quantify the value of carbon emissions reduction at all.”In addition to agreeing that the agency conducted an inadequate environmental assessment under NEPA, the court found that NHTSA’s regulations violated EPCA in four key areas, including the “SUV loophole” (“failure to revise the passenger automobile/light truck classifications”):
NHTSA’s failure to monetize the value of carbon emissions in its determination of the MY 2008-2011 light truck CAFE standards, failure to set a backstop, failure to revise the passenger automobile/light truck classifications, and failure to set fuel economy standards for all vehicles in the 8,500 to 10,000 lb. GWR class, was arbitrary and capricious and contrary to the EPCA. We therefore remand to NHTSA to promulgate new standards consistent with this opinion as expeditiously as possible and for the earliest model year practicable.Warming Law’s comprehensive coverage:
When you are the wife of a movie mogul, you can do more than simply complain about the unusual weather that is wreaking havoc with your favorite surf break. Equipped with a Hollywood aura and impeccable social connections — not to mention sheaves of data-filled talking points — you can count on at least 20 minutes’ worth of respectful attention in Washington, with legislators willing to throw open their doors for activists who share the last names of some deep-pocketed donors.
Which is why a team of eco-wives from the entertainment industry descended on Washington last week, hoping to ride a bit of the momentum from Al Gore’s Nobel Peace Prize in a city that can be unusually receptive to Hollywood celebrity, even if it has been deadlocked over environmental legislation this year.
The Natural Resources Defense Council Action Forum was founded in 2000 by Laurie David and Elizabeth Wiatt, pulling in six other Hollywood wives by 2004. It’s being renamed to the Leadership Council.
Environmental organizations have begun responding to the release of the Lieberman-Warner legislation.
Global warming legislation expected to be introduced tomorrow could provide giveaways worth hundreds of billions or even trillions of dollars to polluting industries, according to an analysis of a draft of the legislation conducted by Friends of the Earth. . . . The Friends of the Earth analysis found that the coal industry in particular stands to benefit from this legislation, precisely because it is currently the industry most responsible for global warming pollution. Depending on market conditions, the coal industry could receive permits worth up to $231 billion in the first year alone, 48 percent of the total permit allocation.
Lieberman and Warner have paved the way for a historic committee vote on a bill that promises to make great strides toward climate security and economic growth. Thanks to their thoughtful approach we’re moving beyond talk and quickly toward action. . . . The emissions goal is aggressive in the short-term and that will have a real impact on investment decisions made now. Most scientists say we need to cut U.S. emissions by about 80 percent, and we continue to believe that deeper reductions are needed long-term. This bill is a good start in that direction, and we will continue to work toward those longer term reductions.
The bill is a significant political step forward for the U.S. Congress, but unfortunately the legislation as introduced still falls short what is demanded by the science and the public to meet the challenge of global warming. . . .The Lieberman-Warner bill, as introduced, leaves us in serious danger of reaching the tipping points that scientists tell us could lead to catastrophic changes to the climate. Polluters should pay for what they do and any bill must allocate allowances for the public benefit, not private windfalls.The Sierra Club finds that the bill falls short of the standards of scientific integrity and economic fairness, calling for an economy-wide cap of 20% by 2020 and 80% by 2050, and full auction of emissions allowances.
Although this bill is a strong start, NRDC supports changes that would improve the bill by ensuring that emission reductions keep pace with the science, and by reducing free allocations and directing additional resources to provide more support for critical program features, including consumer and low-income protections, safeguards for affected workers, and faster deployment of energy efficiency and renewable energy solutions.
From our standpoint, it’s a good-faith political compromise, but it seems very unlikely to go very far unless President Bush does an unexpected 180 degree reversal. And it’s got some very significant warts.Clean Air Watch criticizes the giveaway of emissions credits and notes that the actual reductions in the bill come out to about 51% of overall US emissions by 2050 because the cap is not economy-wide.
We applaud Senators Joe Lieberman and John Warner for their leadership on global warming. . . . While we commend several of the improvements Senators Lieberman and Warner made to their bill, such as increasing the 2020 target to a 15% reduction in covered sectors and recognizing the vital check-and-balance role that enforcement must play in any climate bill, their bill must be strengthened in some vital areas.Earthjustice calls for economy-wide coverage, an 80% reduction (not 51-63% reduction) by 2050, increased auction, and the restoration of funding for international relief.
The Lieberman-Warner bill offers a strong starting point for action. . . . We are especially pleased by the commitment to conservation and protecting wildlife and habitat reflected in the bill. Senators Warner and Lieberman have been leaders in recognizing the magnitude of the challenge climate change poses for the natural world and for all of us.
Today’s introduction of America’s Climate Security Act marks an important step by this Congress to address the urgent problem of global warming. We applaud Senators Joe Lieberman and John Warner for their leadership and for their bipartisan commitment to moving America closer to real solutions to this very urgent problem. . . . We will continue to work to increase the reduction targets and the sectors covered in both the near and long term. We will also work to significantly increase the amount of allowances toward our goal of 100 percent auction, while ensuring that the auction revenues go to directly helping consumers, to increasing renewable energy and energy efficiency, and to helping impacted populations adapt to global warming both at home and abroad.
This is a bipartisan breakthrough on global warming that takes us a giant step closer to a historic vote in the United States Senate. I commend Senator Lieberman and Senator Warner for drafting a strong bill to protect people and wildlife from global warming.
Joe Lieberman and John Warner are providing remarkable leadership. By developing an approach that has environmental integrity and support from both sides of the aisle they are doing what is necessary to actually make law.Matt Stoller of Open Left, who has been highly skeptical of all cap-and-trade approaches, let alone the Lieberman-Warner proposal, wrote this analysis yesterday:
Anyway, the bill Bush is going to get behind is the Lieberman-Warner bill, opposed by the Sierra Club but supported by the intensely corporate-friendly and compromised Environmental Defense. There’s a green civil war coming, with ED President Fred Krupp playing the role of the DLC. The other environmental groups are split, with the Pew Center and the Nature Conservancy following Krupp over the cliff. The Union of Concerned Scientists and NRDC are ‘concerned’, and the LCV and the Sierra Club are clear that this is a bad move. If you want to see a dysfunctional, degraded, and compromised movement that have lost touch with their mission statements, look no further than ED, Pew, and the Nature Conservancy.Today, Tony Kreindler of ED responded on Stoller’s site. Here’s an excerpt:
What Lieberman and Warner have offered is a blueprint for a climate bill with an airtight emissions cap and a market for carbon that will spur investment in cost-effective emissions reductions. They also have a plan for managing economic impacts, and importantly, it doesn’t compromise the integrity of the emissions cap. Does that favor corporations over the environment? We don’t think so, and we won’t support a bill that fails the environmental test.
The discussion is continued at Open Left.
In summary, US-CAP members Environmental Defense, Pew Center on Climate Change, and Nature Conservancy offer unequivocal praise of Lieberman-Warner.
NRDC (US-CAP) and Union of Concerned Scientists say it’s a starting point that needs fixing.
Friends of the Earth and the Sierra Club say it has major problems; the Sierra Club and League of Conservation Voters say that focus should stay on the Sanders-Boxer bill.
A number of organizations have not yet weighed in. Full quotations and links to the statements are below the fold.
Joe Lieberman and John Warner are providing remarkable leadership. By developing an approach that has environmental integrity and support from both sides of the aisle they are doing what is necessary to actually make law.
We welcome new ideas when it comes to fighting global warming, and are pleased that Senators Lieberman and Warner are providing leadership on this issue. But their proposal must be strengthened tobe effective.
UCS calls for a stronger cap and criticizes the industry giveaways and the level of carbon offset allowances.NRDC (part of US-CAP)
Friends of the Earth
We look forward to working with Senators Lieberman and Warner to further improve this proposal’s targets and timetables and to ensure that the bill’s valuable pollution allowances are invested in energy efficiency and other measures to reduce consumers’ costs, not create windfall profits for polluters.
The Lieberman-Warner legislation is just one more proposal that won’t get the job done on global warming.
FOE calls for a stronger cap with faster reductions and criticizes the industry giveaways (“The legislation also violates the ‘polluter pays’ principle”).Sierra Club
The Warner-Lieberman proposal and others are oriented toward meeting the needs of the coal, utility and auto industries. Congress should instead focus on proposals like Boxer-Sanders and Waxman that better meet the needs of communities, families, and the environment.
Sierra Club calls for a stronger cap and a more progressive focus.
Pew Center for Climate Change (part of US-CAP)
Joe Romm, Climate Progress
The Lieberman-Warner proposal represents a critical step toward a workable climate solution, combining many of the best elements of earlier cap-and-trade bills. It proposes ambitious greenhouse gas targets and innovative mechanisms to ensure that the costs of meeting them are reasonable. Importantly, this proposal avoids the use of price caps or other mechanisms that would undermine the program’s environmental objectives and the economic efficiency of a market-based approach. With their bipartisan proposal, Senators Lieberman and Warner are leading the way toward strong Senate action to curb U.S. emissions and avoid the worst potential consequences of climate change.
It looks pretty good to me.
Nature Conservancy (part of US-CAP)
League of Conservation Voters
We commend Senators Warner and Lieberman for their commitment to enacting strong climate legislation. The thoughtful outline released today indicates that the senators are on track to write a bill that would help to address climate change and would be beneficial for conservation.
While we applaud Senators Lieberman and Warner for producing a global warming bill, we believe we can and we must do better than a 10 percent cut in global warming emissions by 2020. We look forward to working to ensure they ultimately produce a bill that accomplishes what the world’s best scientists say is necessary – reducing global warming pollution by at least 15-20 percent by 2020 to reach the goal of at least 80 percent reductions by 2050. We urge other members of the Senate to cosponsor the Sanders-Boxer bill (S. 309) – a bill that will help our country meet the global warming pollution reductions required to help our country secure a brighter future.