Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) will unveil their bipartisan climate and energy bill, the American Power Act, today without the support of Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who helped craft the bill but dropped his support earlier this month, at least for now.
The bill would set the first nationwide limits on carbon pollution emitted from power plants and factories, through a cap-and-trade system that has worked to control other pollutants, like gases that cause acid rain and smog. But in the process it would override more aggressive state programs and some existing Clean Air Act efforts, and it would aim for a 17% nationwide reduction in carbon pollution by 2020less than the reduction needed to avert the worst consequences of climate change, according to authorities on climate science. The bill would also restrict offshore oil drilling by allowing states to veto their neighbors' plans to expand offshore oil drilling, but it would not restrict exploration outright. The bill would also invest in new nuclear power plants.
These are among the issues that divide environmental advocates as they react to the bill.
The Center for Biological Diversity calls the bill "a disaster for the climate," that "moves us one baby step forward and at least three giant steps back in any rational effort to address the climate crisis." Friends of Earth calls the bill "dangerous," arguing that it would undercut existing efforts to reduce carbon pollution while handing "billions in giveaways to corporate polluters, including the oil, coal, nuclear and agribusiness industries."
But 21 prominent environmental groups from Al Gore's Alliance for Climate Protection and the National Audubon Society to the Union of Concerned Scientists World Wildlife Fund, welcomed the bill as a good step forward:
"Today's action by (Kerry and Lieberman) jumpstarts the Senate debate over America's energy future," they said. "Their unwavering leadership has been critical to the progress made thus far. It is time for America's leaders to get serious about a comprehensive clean energy and climate policy that will reduce our oil dependence, enhance our security, revitalize our economy and protect our environment."
Individually, though, several groups echoed some of the same concerns voiced by the more outspoken organizations. The Sierra Club, for instance, said "we regret that bitter opposition from the dirty energy sources of the past like coal, oil and nuclear has watered down this proposal in order to unduly subsidize energy technologies which already receive an unfair public bailout... Furthermore, this is no substitute for a moratorium on off-shore drillingwhich is the only way that we can ensure that the kind of disaster we are experiencing in the Gulf does not happen again."
What do you think?
And what's more, what can you do? We have a few ideas:
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Everything You Know About Going Green Is Wrong.
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