With a vote on the American Clean Energy and Security Act -- which includes the first nationwide U.S. cap-and-trade regulation for greenhouse gases -- coming as early as today, most environmental groups are marshaling their resources in support of the bill. Well-known and influential groups like the Natural Resource Defense Council, Environmental Defense Fund, The Nature Conservancy and the Sierra Club, as well as the younger but substantial movement spawned by Al Gore's Alliance for Climate Protection, are all urging the House of Representatives to pass the bill, as President Obama has urged.
It's not surprising, given the rhetoric, (much of it, when it comes to the cost of the bill, deliberately misleading) that many Republicans are lining up against the bill. What isn't head-in-the-sand obstructionism has a lot of that is the politics of a party out of power trying to damage a popular president. But that's not the case when it comes to two prominent, if less mainstream, environmental groups, which both vociferously oppose the House climate bill.
Greenpeace opposes the bill because it has been too weakened by industry lobbyists, who Greenpeace says has helped stave off Environmental Protection Agency regulation of the corn ethanol industry, watered down overall targets for carbon emissions reduction and set up a system for trading carbon offsets that the group believes will undermine any significant progress.
"As it comes to the floor, the Waxman-Markey bill sets emission reduction targets far lower than science demands, then undermines even those targets with massive offsets," said USA Deputy Campaigns Director Carroll Muffett. "The giveaways and preferences in the bill will actually spur a new generation of nuclear and coal-fired power plants to the detriment of real energy solutions. To support such a bill is to abandon the real leadership that is called for at this pivotal moment in history. We simply no longer have the time for legislation this weak."
Friends of Earth went so far as to launch an ad campaign against the bill (Republican-backed groups have their own anti-climate legislation ad campaign).
Corporate polluters including Shell and Duke Energy helped write this bill, and the result is that were left with legislation that fails to come anywhere close to solving the climate crisis," said Friends of the Earth President Brent Blackwelder. "Worse, the bill eliminates preexisting EPA authority to address global warming -- that means it's actually a step backward."
Beyond Pesticides also warned that allowing the Department of Agriculture, rather than the EPA, to oversee farm-related aspects of carbon regulation, while supporting corn ethanol, could result in increases in the use of herbicide, or at least financial incentives for conventional, rather than organic farming.
Friends of the Earth isn't the only environmental group using advertising to make their case. The Alliance for Climate Protection's Repower America campaign released the video at right, in an effort to get citizens to engage their elected leaders, and urge them to vote in favor of the climate legislation -- not only because it represents a huge step forward for U.S. climate policy, but because it will be essential for pushing ahead with United Nations negotiations on a new worldwide climate treaty in Copenhagen in December.
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