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Articles by Tony Kreindler

Tony Kreindler is national media director for climate at Environmental Defense Fund.

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Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee next week will begin debating one of the most critical pieces of the Waxman-Markey climate bill: how the government will distribute the emissions permits, and the corresponding “allowance value,” under a cap and trade program for greenhouse gases. The formula Congress arrives at will be key to managing consumer costs.

As events unfold over the next few weeks, here are a few things to keep in mind:

40 Percent to Consumers. A group of key swing Democrats have requested that 40 percent of the allowances initially be given for free to the utility sector as proposed by the U.S Climate Action Partnership. It’s important to note that this is not a free allocation to the polluters – i.e. electricity generators. Instead, this approach essentially puts the allowance value in consumers’ pockets by distributing permits at no charge to the local utilities that provide electricity and natural gas to American households. Those “local distribution companies” (LDCs) are regulated by public utility commissions, who would be able to ensure that the utilities pass the value along to consum... Read more

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  • Marshall Institute misrepresents costs of climate action

    With Congress moving forward aggressively to cap global warming pollution, opponents of strong climate legislation are muddying the economics to derail action.

    First the good news: Congressional leaders have announced they will move forward with broad energy and climate legislation that will include a cap on global warming pollution -- the single most important step we can take to fight climate change.

    The bad news: with Congress on the cusp of action, opponents are once again circulating analyses suggesting that a cap on carbon will hurt the economy and overburden consumers with higher energy costs. The latest making the media rounds comes from the George Marshall Institute.

    Like several similar studies we saw during last year's debate over the Climate Security Act, the Marshall Institute analysis consistently misrepresents economic modeling results, painting an inaccurate picture of the estimated costs of climate policy. Here's why:

    Cherry picking numbers is a sour approach. The Marshall Institute's study claims to be a meta-analysis, looking at economic studies of the Lieberman Warner bill (S.2191) by MIT, ACCF/NAM, CRA, CDA, EPA, EIA and CATF.1 However, when the Institute makes conclusions about the impact of climate policy on employment and household consumption, it omits the most credible studies from its analysis, namely those by EPA, MIT and EIA.

  • How the cap-and-trade blueprint fits into domestic and international climate action

    There's been a lot of buzz lately about the U.S. Climate Action Partnership and its new blueprint for a cap on global warming pollution. Last week, the diverse group of environmental nonprofits and leading companies from every sector of the U.S. economy unveiled a detailed plan for legislation -- the consensus product of two years of intense analysis and debate.

    As a consensus document, it won't satisfy everyone's design for the perfect climate bill. Instead, it bridges the gap on the most important issues in the legislative debate, giving members of Congress clear guidelines for legislation that are environmentally effective, economically smart, and politically achievable.

    It's an attempt to find the "sweet spot" that can move the U.S. forward on climate change, in real, practical terms, toward a strong domestic emissions cap that reduces pollution at home and enables the U.S. to lead an effective global emissions reduction effort.

    Any U.S. climate proposal needs to be examined in that context. After all, even the strongest U.S. legislation alone won't secure enough global emissions reductions to solve climate change. What we need right now is strong domestic action that drives international action and contributes effectively to a global emissions reduction path that can avert the worst impacts of climate change.

    The two-degree threshold

    Scientific experts say that our emissions path must keep global warming within 2° of pre-industrial levels. Beyond that, the chances of catastrophic climate impacts increase dramatically. Would the USCAP blueprint as a whole contribute effectively to the global emissions reductions we need? The chart below shows that it would.

  • New report from Duke University pinpoints where green policies will create jobs

    In his most concrete policy proposal since the November election, President-elect Barack Obama last week said his administration will “mark a new chapter in America’s leadership on climate change that will strengthen our security and create millions of new jobs in the process.” Obama said that will “start” with a federal cap and trade system […]

  • Short-term targets key to long-term stabilization

    Ken Ward takes a worthwhile look at the goalposts for U.S. climate policy in his argument for making 350 parts per million the new bright line for success. We agree that we need to aim lower than 450 ppm -- the world is at roughly 380 ppm now, and we're already witnessing adverse climate impacts.

    But we part ways when it comes to how we're going to get there. Ward suggests that EDF's support for the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act can't be reconciled with a stabilization target below 450 ppm, because the bill as written wouldn't drive sufficient emissions reductions. In fact, there's nothing incompatible about the two. Here's why: