Coal industry launches full-scale attack against climate legislation
Originally posted at the Wonk Room.
The coal-industry front group American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity has launched a major lobbying campaign against the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act. ACCCE claims it is opposed to Lieberman-Warner because it “does not adequately embrace” their “principles” and raises “just too many unanswered questions.”
Principles: ACCCE’s 12 principles [PDF] for federal legislation boil down to demands that they be allowed to construct new, uncontrolled coal-fired power plants until taxpayers pony up unlimited amounts of money for carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technology. That’s not a statement of principles — it’s a ransom note.
Lieberman-Warner, named for its two co-sponsors Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and John Warner (R-Va.), would allow the United States to join the rest of the world in combatting climate change by setting a firm limit on carbon emissions while providing support to low-income families. However, the bill also makes significant concessions to polluters, particularly the coal industry:
- The bill calls for reductions in greenhouse emissions that are insufficient to avoid climate catastrophe.
- The bill gives a windfall of emissions permits to polluters, instead of auctioning all permits [PDF].
- The bill promises over $300 billion directly to coal polluters.
Strangely, that isn’t enough for ACCCE.
Questions: ACCCE’s questions in the radio spot for Pennsylvania boil down to pro-coal talking points, recycled attacks on “foreign fuels,” and vague fears about “unnecessarily” increased costs that have been well debunked.
Deception: Even though one of its “principles” is the avoidance of a “patchwork of conflicting standards or duplicative programs through the adoption of a uniform federal program,” ACCCE is also drumming up grassroots lobbying calling for the exact opposite, as Pete MacDowell tells Facing South:
They wanted to add my name to a fax to Senators Lieberman and Warner asking them leave it up to the states to decide how to respond to climate change rather than drive up our utility rates. When I asked who ABEC was, I was told that they were individuals concerned about utility rates. When I asked if they were an environmental group, the answer was “yes.” When I asked whether they were related to the utilities, the answer was “No.”
This staff person clearly should have answered “Yes” when asked if ABEC was related to the utility industry.
Several of the companies in ACCCE deserve particular opprobrium. Alcoa, Caterpillar Inc., and Duke Energy are playing both sides of the lobbying game as members of the U.S. Climate Action Partnership, the business-environmentalist coalition that in January 2007 called for Congress to pass a mandatory cap-and-trade program [PDF] with targets that Lieberman-Warner satisfies.
Listen to the radio spot at the Wonk Room.