Politics

The Low Carbon Economy Act of 2007

It’s weak

I really don't think we have time to waste on safety valves. That said, the new bill by Senators Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and Arlen Specter (R-PA) is worth understanding because it is garnering a lot of support -- at a cost: But to secure labor and corporate support, the measure also places a limit on the price industry would have to pay for such permits. And to win the endorsement of Alaska's two Republican senators, the bill contains billions of dollars in new money to help their state cope with the effects of climate change on roads, bridges and coastal areas. And even with this bribe for climate adaptation, Ted Stevens (R-AK) would not concede that the drastic effects of climate change ravaging his state are caused primarily by human emissions: Regardless of whether these changes are caused solely by human activity, we must take steps to protect people in the Arctic. Everything you could possibly want to know about the bill is available here. What is the bill's safety valve, which they euphemistically call the "Technology Accelerator Payment"? Additional emissions permits could be bought at $12 per metric ton of carbon dioxide emissions in the first year, rising by 5 percent above the rate of inflation each year after that. The money from the permits would be widely spread to finance research into clean energy, mitigate the effects of global warming, compensate farmers for higher fuel costs and help low-income families pay their heating and gasoline bills. I'm with the Sierra Club's Dan Becker: It's too weak ... It would be better to wait until more members of Congress understand that the heat is on them to act, and that may have to wait until the next Congress and the next president. I'm also with NWF's Symons, quoted in Greenwire (sub. req'd): "I've not heard anything to suggest this bill is achieving what the NWF has asked for," said Jeremy Symons, executive director of the National Wildlife Federation's climate program. Symons said he did not support the bill's expected "safety valve" provision, which would set a limit of $12 per ton of carbon dioxide in the first year for how much industry must pay for reducing their pollution. The price ceiling, Symons said, would crimp the overall integrity of the emerging U.S. carbon market and halt innovation in new energy technologies. Here is the email that Bingaman's office sent around:

Let's not talk about sex, baby

Congess extends abstinence-only funding

Perhaps I can mention this without this post devolving into a population pissing match, but FYI, on Wednesday the House approved continued funding of abstinence-only education as part of Section 510 of Title V of the Social Security Act. The Dems had indicated that they were going to cut the $50 million grant program, but it was reattached to the bill pretty late in the game, despite the fact that Rep. John Dingell (chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee, which oversees Title V funding) noted that it “seems to be a colossal failure.” So, really Dems, wtf? I hope …

Bowled Over

Mayors of 29 Great Lakes cities vow to cut water consumption What’s a Friday without some toilet talk? The mayors of 29 Canadian and U.S. cities in the Great Lakes region have agreed to cut water consumption 15 percent from 2000 levels by 2015, and one of their solutions is banning inefficient potties. “We need provincial legislation about low-flow toilets,” said Toronto Mayor David Miller yesterday at a meeting of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative. “They need to be mandatory in home renovations.” The cities — including other big guns like Montreal, Chicago, Hamilton, Ont., and Buffalo, …

Myth: Subsidies keep food prices low

A guest essay from ED’s Scott Faber

The following is a guest post from Scott Faber, Farm Bill campaign director for Environmental Defense. (Scott also has a blog.) — Congress is in serious negotiations over the next version of the Farm Bill. The debate is fertile ground for food policy myths and misconceptions. Perhaps the best (or worst) example is that old chestnut that farm subsidies keep food prices low. Here’s why that’s just a myth. Most of the corn and soybeans grown in America end up in either a pig (as pig food) or a pump (as biofuel). So if farm subsidies really lead to cheaper …

Dingell calls our bluff

He proposes a carbon tax, assuming it will fail

Last Sunday, Rep. John Dingell appeared on the C-SPAN show Newsmakers for a 30-min. interview (transcript here; video accessible via the website), and caused an enormous ruckus with this: SWAIN: Mr. Chairman, I want to go back to your statement that the American people want action [on climate change]. Does that also correlate with the American people being willing to pay higher prices, because of energy legislation? DINGELL: I sincerely doubt that the American people are willing to pay what this is really going to cost them. I will be introducing in the next little bit a carbon tax bill, …

Now That’s an Exit Strategy

Sens. Bingaman, Specter introduce industry-backed climate legislation Two U.S. senators have introduced climate legislation that’s a bold compromise or a copout, depending whom you ask. The Low Carbon Economy Act, sponsored by Sens. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) and Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), would cut current U.S. carbon-dioxide emissions 60 percent by 2050, using a cap-and-trade system that would allow companies to buy credits if they spew too much. Many unions and industry players are on board because the proposal throws them a juicy bone: companies can back out if the cost of trading becomes too high. The bill, supporters say, is “balanced” …

Global warming: That's a rap!

Young rappers say ‘peace out’ to skeptics

“Glaciers melting, waters rising, sky is storming, global warming!” That’s how a rap written by a group of Vermont teens begins. And they hope it ends with local lawmakers taking action on climate change. The students, who call themselves X-10, first drew attention this spring with their rap, “802,” which described life in Vermont. Their video has been viewed more than 123,000 times on YouTube. Instead of 802, they’re now rapping about CO2 — carbon dioxide, which some scientists blame for global warming. They’re urging lawmakers to override Governor Jim Douglas’ veto of H. 520, a bill that calls for …

RFK Jr. nails it

Amazing how much honesty a non-candidate can bring!

From Brad Blog comes this transcript of Robert F. Kennedy's excellent comments at LiveEarth:

The Sweet Smell of Politics

Rep. John Dingell proposes carbon tax, doesn’t really mean it Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.), the powerful chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, plans to introduce a carbon-tax bill that would raise the cost of burning fossil fuels. Yep, you heard that right: Dingell’s proposal, announced in an interview on C-SPAN, would impose a double-digit tax on each ton of carbon dioxide emitted and raise the federal gasoline tax from 18.4 cents per gallon to 68.4 cents. But hold your applause (or threats) — Dingell’s goal is not to push through a bold climate measure, but to illustrate how …

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