Kerry-Lieberman dirty energy bailout bill not the solution America needs

by Mike Gaworecki

May 13, 2010

The Kerry-Lieberman climate bill has finally been released, and it appears that all the delays gave polluter lobbyists ample time to really do their dirty work on the bill. It’s now what you might call more of a "dirty energy bailout" bill than anything else. Greenpeace cannot support the bill unless several key weaknesses are changed, as outlined in this press statement.

Why is it a dirty energy bailout? It incentivizes offshore drilling — at a time when a disastrous oil spill is still pumping over 200,000 gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico every day. It would subsidize coal at a time when most folks are asking how we can limit the damage coal is doing to our communities and the environment in the aftermath of the terrible explosion at a mine in West Virginia. Earthtrack has a good breakdown of the subsidies for dirty energy industries.

Never has the time been more ripe for making the case to America that we need to transition off of the dirty fossil fuels of the past and toward the clean, renewable energy sources of the future. Instead, Kerry and Lieberman’s American Power Act will actually prolong our dependence on destructive, dirty fossil fuels.

offshore drilling graphicThe bill does nothing to address our addiction to oil, but would endanger more of our coastlines with catastrophic oil spills like the BP Deepwater Disaster — all for a miniscule amount of oil, as you can see in the graphic to the right. Clearly the cure for our oil addiction is not more offshore drilling, but to aggressively move into renewable energy.

 Perhaps the biggest boon to the dirty energy industries, however, is the weak emissions targets called for in the bill. Dirty energy purveyors are desperate to evade regulation of their carbon emissions so that they can keep pumping millions of tons of global warming pollution into our atmosphere free of charge. And with the emissions reductions called for in this bill – roughly 4% below 1990 levels by 2025 — they will essentially get to do just that.

To add insult to injury, this bill literally guts the EPA’s authority to regulate dangerous greenhouse gases at a time when global concentrations are rapidly becoming critical. Also, even if the states decided to set tough emissions standards, the bill would preempt them from setting tougher emissions standards than the federal government. This “climate bill” guts key provisions of the Clean Air Act and the EPA’s authority to enforce proven legislation that is designed to protect Americans from some of the most dangerous pollutants.

It’s time to get serious about national energy policy. A truly visionary energy and climate bill would spend $54B on electric cars, smart grid technology, and public transportation instead of nuclear madness. It would level the playing field to allow clean energy technologies to compete in the marketplace on an equal footing with fossil fuels, not throw money at mythical technologies like carbon capture and sequestration.  

A clean energy policy truly deserving of the name would significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, provide substantial incentives for transforming our economy with clean, renewable energy technologies and in the process generate new green jobs on a national scale. This is how leaders respond. Now is the time for Congress to act with a comprehensive, science-based plan to take America into the 21st Century and provide real international leadership.  

Even with opposition from Americans for Prosperity, Glenn Beck, American Petroleum Institute, the Chamber of Commerce, and all the other climate deniers, the American people still know that we need to find solutions to global warming. All we need is leadership and to clear the dirty energy lobbyists out of town. You can take action right now to call on Congress to provide that leadership and pass a bill that doesn’t hand out giveaways to the fossil fuels industries.

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