This report is a call to action written to the President of the United States. In order for federal climate legislation worthy of this nation to pass Congress, we see no alternative to active and principled
engagement from the Oval Office.
The climate legislation currently pending in both houses of Congress is more likely to encourage the
perpetuation of a fossil fuel economy rather than a swift transition to a clean energy future. Incumbent
industry and energy interests have too powerful a hold on members of Congress. They have hijacked
the legislation and structured it to serve their own special interests.
In this plain-spoken Greenpeace analysis of the pending climate legislation called Business As Usual,
we identify five points of maximum danger in urgent need of Presidential attention. Individually and
together these points of danger constitute an existential threat to the integrity of the law and the ability
of the United States to resume its place as a respected leader in the world. The five points of maximum
The Clean Air Act is Being Threatened
Congress is threatening to preempt the Clean Air Act from regulating greenhouse gas emissions from
the biggest pollution sources in the nation. The EPA already has permitting authority over coal plants to
protect the public from mercury poisoning, acid rain, ground level ozone, airborne soot and other health
and environmental hazards. Yet lawmakers might exclude the agency, the single arm of the federal
government best-equipped to handle oversight of coal-fired power plants, from the opportunity to do its
job in relation to greenhouse gases.
The Carbon Cap Has Little Bite
Congress is adopting a novel and therefore misleading 2005 benchmark to make the proposed US
carbon cap look significant. Science demands at least a 25% emissions reduction target based on the
1990 baseline used by the rest of the world. The weak target of a 4% reduction in the House bill will
undermine our ability to negotiate a global deal with China, India and other developing nations.
Coal is Sanctified as “Clean” Energy Choice
Coal is the big winner of the legislation, being handed tens of billions of dollars to figure out how to hide
its pollution. Renewable and clean technology—wind, solar or geothermal receive scant the same level
of federal support.
Handouts and Loopholes are Legion
The legislation will create a new form of carbon currency. Instead of auctioning the credits to make
polluters pay for pollution, lawmakers are giving away the credits for free, with the lion’s share going to
polluters. At the same time, Congress has created an enormous loophole—2 billion tons of offsets—
that will effectively postpone the need to reduce US industrial emissions for close to two more decades.
Renewable Energy is Provided Insufficient Support
The outcome of the federal support for truly clean renewable energy created by the legislation is less
than what would happen if Congress did nothing. Support for clean energy development from state
governments and private enterprise already surpasses the weak structure of incentives embedded in
pending federal legislation.
If these five points of maximum danger are not addressed, the legislation will succeed in perpetuating
business as usual and fail to avert catastrophic climate disruption.
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