Thursday, April 02, 2009

Two years and counting, since Supreme Court decision on global warming; is Van Hollen the answer?

It’s been exactly two years since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the US EPA had legal authority to deal with global warming, as long as the agency found that global warming posed a health and/or environmental threat.

And the clock continues to tick.

Here is a quick roundup of some relevant news.

“Climate bills are blooming like cherry blossoms in Washington.” My favorite line this morning, courtesy Tim Wheeler of the Baltimore Sun.

Tim was referring not only to the much-publicized draft legislation released earlier this week by Reps. Henry Waxman and Ed Markey, but to a less celebrated bill released yesterday by Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Md. I’ll be the first to admit I am a bit biased when it comes to Van Hollen since he is a neighbor and since I’ve known him for quite a few years.

However, his legislation is really worth keeping an eye on for several key reasons. For one thing, it provides an answer to a very big question left blank in the otherwise laudable Waxman-Markey bill: how to deal with the carbon pollution permits or credits under a cap-and-trade system. Van Hollen would require polluters to buy the permits. No free ride for the dirty Dukes of the world. And Van Hollen would have the government give the proceeds directly back to “every lawful resident of the United States with a valid Social Security number.”

The simplicity and elegance of this approach has a lot in its favor. For one thing, it may provide some counter-weight to what appears to be solid and blind Republican opposition to the Waxman-Markey bill. (The Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee were briefed on that bill yesterday, and emerged to say they would oppose the core cap-and-trade provisions. For more on the Republican attacks on climate legislation, please note that yesterday, John Boehner was named "Worst Person In the World" on MSNBC's "Countdown" due to his deliberate lie about global warming reduction costs. Note: You have to watch an ad, and the Worse and Worser Persons first.

For more details on the Boehner lie, and the truth about the study that he distorts:

Also note Joining Their 11 Colleagues, Eight More Republicans Advance Cap-And-Trade Tax Myth )

Back to the Van Hollen plan, note that it is an alternative to the possibly bogus idea – spread by Duke, the Edison Electric Institute and others – that consumers would always be protected as long as state public service commissions oversaw free credits given to power companies. (A fascinating story this week in Energy Daily recalls how Duke swayed the Ohio public service commission to the detriment of residential customers.)

One other fascinating thing to watch: there could be a something of a parting of the ways between the big, inbred DC and New York-based environmental groups (who will likely endorse whatever compromise emerges as Waxman and Markey negotiate for committee votes among blue-dog democrats) and many grassroots activists outside the beltway who will support Van Hollen’s approach.

See below a statement that grassroots groups released today:



Bridgett Frey, Press Secretary, Office of Congressman Chris Van Hollen

Peter Barnes, Tomales Bay Institute

Mike Tidwell, Director, Chesapeake Climate Action Network


Yesterday, Congressman Chris Van Hollen, one of the highest ranking members of the U.S. House of Representatives, unveiled The Cap and Dividend Act of 2009. The proposal will help solve the climate crisis while helping our economy grow and helping working families prosper. It is simple, transparent, and fair.

The legislation will cut carbon pollution to 10 percent below 1990 levels by 2020. It auctions 100% of the carbon permits - instead of giving them away to large polluters -- and allows for no potentially complex "carbon offsets" of any kind. It will spur economic investment and innovation and create millions of jobs in clean energy.

It protects the purchasing power of American families by returning every penny of higher carbon prices to citizens on a monthly, per capita basis. Every American, every month, will receive an "Energy Security Dividend."

No other carbon cap proposal does as much to help American families, our economy, and our planet.


Chesapeake Climate Action Network (MD)
Montana Environmental Information Center (MT)
Fresh Energy (MN)
Penn Future (PA)
New Energy Economy (NM)
Center for Civic Policy (NM)
Climate Protection Campaign (CA)
Plains Justice (IA)
New York Public Interest Research Group (NY)
South Carolina Coastal Conservation League (SC)
Ohio Citizen Action (OH)

No comments: