The American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 was introduced about six weeks ago in the House Energy and Commerce Committee. I wrote a follow-up post last week about some of the negotiations that were on-going about the bill in subcommittee. The same day, another blogger presented some information in a way I found very useful. Some of the key information was as follows.
20% lower emissions in 2020 than 2005 levels was a key point in the legislation. As of the 12th of May, the bill’s provision was for 17% below 2005 levels by 2020. Then-candidate Obama campaigned on a 80% reduction of 1990 levels by 2050. Put simply, an 80% reduction by 2050 isn’t possible to achieve if 2020 levels are only set at 17% below 2005 levels. And we need to achieve the 80% of 1990 levels reduction. That was one big reason I supported Obama in the 2008 election. This slide occurred due to the inherent weakness of the levels proposed in the bill’s introduction, as I discussed in my 1st follow-up post.
A nationwide 25% renewable energy portfolio goal by 2025. This is imminently do-able – it’s well within our current technological capabilities, to say nothing of developments that will help achieve this goal to be developed in the next 10-15 years, especially with aggressive legislation pushing for it. After the May 12th “compromise”, conditions were set to 15% renewable and 5% efficiency gain (efficiency has the potential to really eat up a lot of slack in the energy system – far more than 5%, by the way). The current language would allow governors of states to adjust those numbers to 12% renewable and 8% efficiency. They shouldn’t have to be traded like this. Efficiency can easily be doubled to 10% while still attaining 25% renewable energy nationwide. That would put us much further down the path of needed action.
The worst “compromise” thus far has to be pollution allowances. President Obama wanted all of them auctioned and then use the money to assist lower- and middle-income consumers pay for efficiency and clean energy projects around their houses. Assistance for energy bills would also have been made available. That way, as the government mandated renewable energy come online in a massive way, any increased building and operating costs that utilities would have passed along to consumers would have been largely nullified. We all would have been using clean energy and our bills wouldn’t have increased (at least not by much). Instead, House Cons, who have no interest in voting for the bill anyway, managed to convince enough ConservaDems that the poor old energy industry shouldn’t be made to incur greater operating costs, despite all the greenhouse pollution they’re emitting because they’ve decided for decades to not invest in clean technologies (just cheap ones). So the pollution permits will be given away to polluting corporations – for free. They will be allowed to pollute for years to come because they’re spending millions of dollars on lobbyists to convince Representatives to give them a huge financial break. The return on that money will be large, indeed, as it usually is. In the meantime, greenhouse pollution won’t be effectively curtailed for a long time, ensuring that we lock in ever-increasing cliamte change effects for the next 1,000-10,000 years.
Perhaps the worst news of all is that these compromises giveaways to industry will only continue as this legislation continues to make its way through Congress. Enough could be done to the bill to make it as Orwellian in name as much of the legislation passed under the Con Congress of the early 2000’s. Case in point, I heard about the 450 Con amendments to this bill that could be introduced this week. Instead of working with Democrats in good faith, the Cons are putting forward amendments that would do the opposite of the language already in the bill and/or are geared towards making sure ConservaDems vote for the amendment so that they won’t be called names back in their home districts in the 2010 campaigns. Or so the theory goes – I’m willing to be they’ll still be called names, even if they do vote the way the Cons want them to. One amendment in particular is typical of Con posturing – if 1,000 jobs are lost in one state, the entire law’s provisions would be suspended. If Cons cared that much about employment, they would have offered similar solutions to other important pieces of legislation. They didn’t, which makes this hypocritical action all the more immoral.