Potential talking points on introduction of Kerry-Lieberman cap-and-trade bill
On Wednesday Senator Kerry and Lieberman will release their long awaited cap-and-trade climate and energy bill without the support of a Republican Senator. I am pleased that after months of secret negotiations, the public will have its first opportunity to evaluate the proposal and understand how it will impact households, businesses and the environment.
I share Senator Kerry and Lieberman’s desire to reduce greenhouse gases and our dependence on foreign oil. I share their belief that investments in clean energy technologies will spur innovation and job growth. I applaud their reported call for the United States to reduce its carbon emissions to 17% below 2005 levels by 2020.
However, I do not believe that the approach taken by Senators Kerry and Lieberman is the best way to price carbon. While the legislation has been seen by only a select group of energy CEOs and favored organizations, the following presumed features of the bill are obstacles to spurring economic growth, protecting American households and meeting our urgent environmental goals.
Specifically, we are concerned that the proposed legislation will:
Ø Diminish the Clean Air Act’s ability to limit carbon emissions.
Ø Convert consumer and taxpayer money into windfall profits to coal, oil, nuclear and other energy industries.
Ø Carve out special protections for electric utilities by giving them billions of free pollution permits.
Ø Encourage polluters to buy carbon offset in foreign countries instead of investing in American clean energy jobs and technology.
Ø Expand offshore oil drilling.
Even while I disagree with the approach that Senators Kerry and Lieberman have taken, I strongly urge Congress and the White House to continue to pursue energy legislation this year that will price carbon.
In a recent national and state survey by Republican pollster Glen Bolger, a majority of republican, independent and democratic likely-voters said that they wanted energy reform. Voters believe that energy reform can lead to job and economic growth and want Washington to act on both these urgent needs.
The bi-partisan CLEAR Act, introduced by Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Susan Collins (R-ME) is the simplest, most transparent way to price carbon, spur economic growth and reduce our dependence on foreign oil.
In an editorial, The Washington Post explained that the CLEAR Act’s 100 percent auction and rebate to households “would not hurt most Americans’ budgets…making the vast majority of them whole if not better off.” The Economist referred to the CLEAR Act as “promising” and “honest.”
Senator Kerry and Lieberman, along with Majority Leader Reid, have said Republican support is essential to the proposal’s success. After six months of effort by the White House and Congress, that threshold has not been reached and we need to take a different approach. We’re going straight to our Senators and asking them to back the CLEAR Act as our best bi-partisan option for pricing carbon.