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Press Room:  For Immediate Release 
Explore, Enjoy and Protect the Planet

TO: Reporters Covering McCain/Global Warming
FR: Sierra Club, contact David Willett, National Press Secretary 202-675-6698
RE: Upcoming Global Warming/Energy Policy Speeches

Over the coming days, Senator McCain is expected to unveil his plans for addressing global warming. While still awaiting details of the plan, the Sierra Club can offer some specific points on his record on the issue so far, as well as some red flags that would undermine any strong plan to be on the lookout for as details emerge.

While Senator McCain deserves credit for his work on early global warming legislation in the Senate and for bringing attention to the need for urgent action, his efforts to date have been driven by yesterday's solutions and they won't solve tomorrow's problems. The science on global warming has changed dramatically over the last five years and the bill Senator McCain has previously championed is outdated and fails to provide the big changes Americans are demanding. Like President Bush, McCain's policies on global warming offer more of the same, by putting the interests of polluters over the people and failing to invest in building a clean energy economy that will create new jobs and opportunities at a time when an economic boost is sorely needed. Americans want real change--investment in clean, renewable energy instead of Big Oil, Nuclear power and other polluting industries. We need more windmills not windfalls.

Any serious attempt to meet the challenge of global warming must include these basic principles:

First, the targets and timetables must be sufficient to do what the science demands in both the near and long terms to reduce the negative impacts of climate change to the maximum extent possible. This will require reductions in total emissions on the order of 80 percent by 2050 and 20 percent by 2020.

Next, permits to emit carbon must be used for public benefit, not private windfalls. Pollution allowances are a public trust. All allowances should be auctioned or otherwise used to benefit the public, not to generate windfall profits for polluting industries. Free allocations, if any, must be limited in size and restricted to a short transition period.

Revenue raised by the bill should be used to promote a clean energy future by investing in the highest-value solutions for emissions reductions first. These funds should not be used to perpetuate dirty, expensive, outdated technologies like coal and nuclear energy. Allowances and auction revenues should be used to accelerate deployment of the clean energy technologies we have today and to develop the ones we need for tomorrow. Funds should be invested only in the cleanest, cheapest, safest, and fastest means of reducing emissions.

Finally, the bill must ensure a just transition for workers, protect vulnerable groups, and help induce world action. Allowances and auction revenues should be used to protect low- and moderate-income citizens from rising energy costs and other negative economic impacts, create new jobs, ensure fair treatment for affected workers and their communities, and drive technology transfer to help achieve emissions reductions around the world. We must also take care of communities that suffer the impacts of global warming we were too late to avoid.

Numerous studies have shown that we can achieve these goals and meet our energy needs with the cleanest energy sources and efficiency and without relying on dirty power. If Senator McCain wants to have a credible and feasible plan for addressing global warming, he must demonstrate a commitment to these principles and have a plan that adds up to what science tells us the world needs. Senator McCain should also join other Senators to end outrageous subsidies to polluters like Big Oil as they continue to rake in record profits. Unfortunately, even as Senator McCain urges America to shower the nuclear energy industry with billions in subsidies, he has criticized money for biofuels and failed to support incentives for clean renewable energy like wind and solar power.

Major "red flag" issues to look for in any infeasible global warming plan:

  • Support for drilling in the Arctic Refuge or lifting the 30-year moratorium on drilling on the Outer Continental Shelf
  • Support for "unconventional fossil fuels"--liquid coal, tar sands, or oil shale development
  • Any expansion of existing subsidies or support for the construction of new nuclear power plants--including loan guarantees
  • Support for the Yucca Mountain facility
  • Any attempt to classify coal or nuclear power as "renewable"
  • Any global warming plan that gives away allowances to polluters for free without designated purpose
  • Any global warming plan with a so-called "safety-valve" that would break the carbon cap
  • Any global warming plan that bars US action until China, India, and others act
  • Denial of state authority to regulate global warming emissions from vehicles
  • Denial of state authority to regulate global warming pollution generally
  • Refusal to subsidize the development of real clean energy technologies or the production of clean energy


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