FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 2, 2008
Contact: Josh Dorner, 202.675.2384
Sierra Club Welcomes Senate Floor Debate on Climate Bill
Senators Should Strengthen & Pass Bill, Fend Off Any Weakening Changes
Washington, D.C.—The Senate voted this evening by a margin of 74 to 14 to proceed to a floor debate on the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act. Floor debate on the bill and potential amendments is expected to begin as early as Tuesday evening, with votes to follow later in the week.
Statement of Carl Pope, Sierra Club Executive Director
"Debating global warming in the Senate is a historic achievement, and the Boxer-Lieberman-Warner substitute amendment is a major step in the right direction. We commend the sponsors for putting this issue directly before the Senate and the American public. However, the legislation must be strengthened to effectively reduce U.S. emissions in the short-term, achieve emission reductions consistent with the latest science over the long-term, and use public resources for public benefit by investing in a clean and secure energy economy and reducing the overall cost of the program to society.
"We also urge strongly urge Senators to reject efforts that would undercut our nation’s progress on global warming by voting against amendments that would block states from addressing global warming, create loopholes and safety valves that further undermine the pollution caps, and provide additional subsidies for fossil fuels or nuclear power.
"Only bold, science-based action can stave off the most catastrophic effects of global warming. We strongly urge Senators to strengthen the Climate Security Act and to oppose efforts to weaken it, so we can pass global warming legislation truly equal to the task of addressing this global crisis."
Examples of potential strengthening amendments include, but are not limited to:
SCIENTIFIC REVIEW -- The amendment would require the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the president to quickly propose new legislation to adjust the emissions reduction framework—including targets and timelines—based on National Academy of Sciences findings. It would also call for expedited congressional action to speed passage of these proposed adjustments.
CONSUMER AND JOBS PROTECTION --The amendment would ensure that funds are available each year to fully cover the increased costs of goods and services for the bottom income quintile and phase out the assistance over the second income quintile. The amendment would also increase funding for green jobs.
CLEAN ENERGY/POLLUTER PAYS --This amendment will end the practice of fossil fuel generators receiving free allowances after 10 years and move the savings to the states to be used for increased funding for renewable energy, energy efficiency, workers transition, and low-income consumer assistance.
Examples of potential weakening amendments include, but are not limited to:
SAFETY VALVE -- An amendment may be offered that freezes the price of carbon allowances at a specific price. That would bust the cap and allow significantly higher emissions than called for in the bill.
UNLIMITED OFFSETS -- A Senator may offer an amendment that would allow polluters to buy unlimited offsets, meaning that they would not have to reduce their own pollution at all and would be able to buy their way out of meeting reduction requirements.
NUCLEAR GIVE-AWAY -- Some Senators want to use a global warming bill to give billions to the nuclear industry to build new power plants. We have yet to solve the nuclear waste problem and with new estimates pegging the cost of new nuclear power plants at $12-14 billion each, nuclear power is a dirty, dangerous, and costly distraction that saps resources better spent on cleaner, cheaper, safer, and faster emissions reductions.
PRE-EMPTION -- We may see an amendment that pre-empts state activities on global warming, including eviscerating the landmark California global warming emissions standards for autos that have been joined by more than a dozen states.
For the full text of the letter sent to the Senate today by Sierra Club and Environment America, please visit:
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