Why Greenpeace can’t support Waxman-Markey

by Mike Gaworecki

May 21, 2009

The head of our global warming campaign, Damon Moglen, sent the following update out to our supporters yesterday stating our reasons for withdrawing our support from the Waxman-Markey climate legislation, America’s Clean Energy and Security Act.

Here’s Damon’s statement:

In these last weeks, the first piece of legislation attempting to seriously address global warming was introduced in Congress. The bill – authored and introduced by Representatives Waxman and Markey – started off as a good first step toward solving the climate crisis.

But following pressure from an all-out $45 million lobbying push by the coal, gas and oil industries, the bill looks very different today than it did two weeks ago. That’s why I want to let you know where Greenpeace stands on the bill.

Unfortunately, we simply can’t support this bill in its current state. Here are a few of the reasons why:

  • The bill calls for reducing U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by less than 4-7 percent below 1990 levels by 2020. Even with supplemental reductions elsewhere in the bill, that’s way short of the 25-40 percent cuts that leading scientists call for.
  • The biggest polluters would receive hundreds of billions of dollars in subsidies. This is unacceptable. Taxpayers should not foot the bill for dirty industries hoping to continue business as usual.
  • Given all of the carbon "offsets" that the bill offers to dirty industries, they could avoid reducing their greenhouse gas emissions for more than a decade. By that time, it could be too late to stop the worst impacts of global warming.
  • A new generation of dirty coal-fired power plants will be supported through some $10 billion in ratepayer subsidies for carbon capture and sequestration (or CCS) – an unproven technology that doesn’t even exist yet.
  • The bill sets a renewable electricity standard that would achieve less than states are likely to accomplish on their own.

All together, this bill simply does not do what the science says is necessary to avoid the worst effects of global warming and to rescue the climate. And for us here at Greenpeace, that has always been the bottom line.

This moment requires bold leadership from President Obama and Congress, and Greenpeace fully intends to demand just that. We’ll be in touch over the coming weeks and months to let you know exactly what’s needed to rescue the climate. In the meantime, I want to personally thank you for your activism and commitment to this important issue. I’m looking forward to working with you.

Damon Moglen
Greenpeace Global Warming Campaign Director

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