‘Why we cannot support this bill’
Below is the text of an email being sent out by progressive groups opposed to Waxman-Markey because they believe it doesn’t do enough to address the climate and energy crisis. We reprint it here for the Grist audience to comment on. One Grister offered up this gem of a thought: The missing question from TheClean.org’s list is what happens if the cap-and-trade bill doesn’t pass? What then?
Today, TheCLEAN.org, a grassroots coalition of 130 organizations devoted to moving the U.S. from coal/oil-based energy to an economy based on renewable energy, issued the text of an email message from Pam Solo, a founder of TheClean.org.
In the email message urging energy and environmental activists to reach out to undecided groups and individuals, Solo writes: “In the next 24 hours we must reach these people. We must ask them to ask themselves the below questions. They are just 10 things we asked ourselves when determining whether or not to support [the Waxman-Markey] bill.”
The full text of the email follows:
“Dear Energy and Environmental Activists:
As early as tomorrow, the US Congress will vote on the American Energy and Security Act (ACES)–a bill that will have profound effects on the future of our economy, global warming, and our national security. TheClean.org has clearly stated why we cannot support this bill. But we also acknowledge that some people, including many environmentalists, energy economists, congressmen, and even some of our own members, are still conflicted on whether or not they should.
They wonder if they should support something that takes a few steps in the right direction but also, in so many ways, continues the status quo and, quite frankly, actually confirms and increases coal- and nuclear-based energy delivery and dependency.
In the next 24 hours we must reach these people. We must ask them to ask themselves the below questions. They are 10 things we asked ourselves when determining whether or not to support this bill.
1. Many supporters ACES have argued “this is the best we can get given the circumstances” or that this bill “is a beginning.” If so, the central question for community organizers is: what is the next step? How will we obtain more meaningful and effective action on energy policy and climate change if we accept that these are the “circumstances?” When or how will we be able to improve the circumstances that produced this incomplete Act?
2. Given that the fossil-fuel industry is unwilling to agree to reduce carbon any further than the current legislation, and given that many environmental groups have acquiesced to the industry’s terms in the name of “getting something done”, what is the strategy for getting an energy bill that will reduce carbon enough to actually slow global warming? When will that bill happen? Will it be when the Democrats control Congress, the Senate, and the Presidency? (Hint: they already do.)
3. Since President Obama is likely to sign the bill with great fanfare, what will the public take away from this? Will they see it as a “win”–that the problem is solved? If so, what will that mean for pushing for the needed steps later? How will the public be mobilized to push their Representatives when the official and media message is that this is “landmark” legislation?
4. If this bill is signed, Coal’s role in America’s energy mix will be set for the next two decades. What strategies can victims of the coal industry use to convince Washington that the industry is still undertaking in destructive and hazardous mining methods such as longwall mining and mountaintop removal coal mining?
5. Why are taxpayers about to ‘invest’ billions in the carbon sequestration (CCS) of coal if Wall Street has taken a pass?
6. If our energy policy is so predicated on the workability of CCS and the inevitability of reliance on coal, what happens if CCS is not workable, or workable in time? Where are the sequestration sites? What are the estimates for storage capacity? What happens in a slow or sudden large release of CO2 to the communities near these sites? Do the communities know the potential risk they are in? Why are we giving billions of dollars to an industry without having answers to these fundamental questions?
7. If mountaintop removal (MTR) coal mining and the serious impact on water resources in the West are factored in, what is the true cost of coal for our future?
8. Why are we eliminating the EPA’s authority to regulate carbon as pollutant as they do any other pollutant? If we do this, when will congress be willing to revisit regulation guidelines on carbon? What are the levers for change without the regulatory authority of the EPA?
9. What is the execution plan for the regulation of the cap and trade provisions of the bill? How can we ask Americans to accept a new “market” without a clear regulatory process, especially after the lack of clear regulatory process just caused the collapse of our financial sector?
10. Why are we not meeting the necessary reductions in carbon as put forth by science?
These questions must be answered. The stakes are too high. The American public deserves a bill that represents their long-term energy, economic, and security interests. They deserve better than a bill created by the conversation Washington insiders have with themselves. They deserve leadership, not the lowest common denominator. We believe they voted for that overwhelmingly in 2006 and that this bill does not represent that intention.
These aren’t minor uncertainties of a big bill, or things that can be “hammered out later.” In the view of most participants in CLEAN these are fundamental questions that point to deep underlying flaws with the legislation; flaws that will lead to inevitable failures with serious, if not devastating, human consequences.
We still have time to get these critical questions dealt with. We must stay organized and keep pushing for debate of these important issues.
Our ask is simple: Consider these questions and if you agree, forward this to everyone you know.
Thank you for your continued work and commitment.”
To learn more about TheCLEAN.org and Citizens’ Clean Energy Economy Act, go to http://www.TheClean.org.