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Advocacy Group Praises Climate Change Bill As "Superior Starting Point To Protect The Poor"


Statement of Tyson Slocum, Director, Public CitizenÂ’s Energy Program

TodayÂ’s introduction of the bipartisan CLEAR (Carbon Limits
and Energy for AmericaÂ’s Renewal) Act by Sens. Maria Cantwell
(D-Wash.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) offers a needed new direction in
AmericaÂ’s debate on addressing climate change. While the legislation
is far from perfect, it offers a superior starting point than competing
bills that passed the House of Representatives and the Senate
Environment & Public Works Committee, and the proposed legislative
framework offered by Lieberman-Kerry-Graham. Importantly, the
legislation echoes President ObamaÂ’s call, made most recently in his
mid-session budget submitted to Congress in August, that polluters
should pay through a 100 percent auction of emission allowances. This is
in stark contrast to competing proposals, which give away nearly all
such allowances for free. Additionally, the CLEAR Act would
significantly limit the creation and operation of a secondary derivative
trading market, thereby curtailing the ability of Wall Street to profit
and speculate.

Public Citizen understands that auctioning 100 percent of pollution
allowances - rather than giving them away for free - and keeping Wall
Street speculators out of carbon markets is the strongest path forward
to hold polluters accountable, protect households and preserve the
integrity of the emissions cap. The Environmental Protection Agency has
stated that 100 percent auctioning will have the greatest ability of
cap-and-trade methods to protect vulnerable populations like the poor.
We also understand that markets are needed to finance the research and
deployment of clean technologies - and not to promote a trillion-dollar
carbon gambling market. Solving climate change is simply too important
to entrust to traders at Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan Chase.

But while the legislation gets these two critical pieces right,
work is needed to strengthen the bill. The legislationÂ’s short term
emission reduction target - 20 percent reduction in emissions by 2020 -
is not strong enough to curtail emissions in line with what the science
tells us is needed. The Clean Energy Reinvestment Trust Fund, which
receives 25 percent of the auction revenue, does not limit investments
into proven boondoggles like nuclear power or “clean coal” and
allows too many non-renewable energy sources - such as the use of
domestic agricultural offsets - to qualify as “clean energy.” And
the legislation provides explicit, generous incentives for carbon
capture and storage without corresponding initiatives to encourage
small-scale, locally owned renewable energy like rooftop solar. Public
Citizen will work with lawmakers to strengthen this bill.

Public Citizen is a national, nonprofit consumer advocacy organization
based in Washington, D.C. For more information, please visit 

Angela Bradbery
Director of Communications
Public Citizen
direct. (202) 588-7741
main (202) 588-1000
cell (202) 503-6768
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