Friday, February 15, 2008

Sierra Club & Politics As Usual

The story below is just more proof that the environmentalist community is migrating away from the Lieberman-Warner bill. What's so great about this article is that the Sierra Club outright admits to their hyper-partisan political reasoning for opposing the bill. They, along with FOE and Greenpeace are laying the groundwork for a massive campaign that will attack the environmental integrity of the Lieberman-Warner bill -- for no other real reason than politics. These groups are riding high on the belief that they will have a Democratic sweep of the President and the Congress next year.

What's really interesting -- is that they are willing to bet at all. Since climate change is the "most important issue of all time" to these people, they should be focused on getting started NOW.

If, as they say they believe, the bill needs to be tightened or tweaked -- they can do that after it passes MUCH easier and faster than waiting for the perfect bill to gain enough political support to pass (which just doesn't happen in Washington). We are talking about a bill that sets out action until 2050 - DOES ANYONE REALLY BELIEVE THERE AREN'T GOING TO BE CHANGES AS WE GO??

Its not like the Lieberman-Warner bill has just emerged -- these enviro groups said PLENTY of positive things about it when it first came out -- all sorts of praise for Warner getting "engaged" in the issue.
But now, with real political momentum growing behind the bill -- its as if the closer the Lieberman-Warner bill gets to passing, the further away the environmentalist groups are going. Hence, I return to my assertion that these groups do not really want to pass a bill on climate change -- they want to raise money off the issue a little longer.

The interesting thing to watch will be whether all the other "green groups" follow suit -- or whether some of them have the political courage to remain in support of the best bill out there to get us started dealing with climate change in a market-friendly way.

What is SOOO disturbing for people like me who really care about this issue, is that the Lieberman-Warner bill is a DAMN good start -- and it strikes a balance between reducing emissions and not crashing the economy -- something that will HAVE to be done in order to pass ANY bill EVER.

For agriculture -- the stakes are high here as well -- because one of the "tweaks" that groups like the Sierra Club would make in creating the perfect climate bill -- would be to eliminate the ag offset market completely. If you are afraid of higher energy costs in the Lieberman-Warner bill (which are completely overblown) just WAIT for the bill that gets the support of the lefty enviros -- THAT is the scenario people should be opposing.

Environment & Energy Daily

Sierra Club chief questions emissions bill compromises (02/15/2008)
Darren Samuelsohn, E&ENews PM senior reporter

The Sierra Club's executive director wants environmentalists to oppose any weakening of a major piece of global warming legislation given the prospects of a more friendly Congress and White House less than a year from now.

Climate Change: Taking stock of Industrial Emissions -- An E&E Special Report

"We are being urged to compromise -- to put a system in place quickly, even if it is the wrong system," Carl Pope wrote in a guest essay published yesterday on the online environmental magazine Grist.

"Given that we only have one chance to get this right before it's too late, our top priority must be to make sure that we do not settle prematurely and sign a weak bill into law in the name of doing something about global warming," Pope added. "With momentum for strong action and a friendlier Congress and White House building every day, it's no coincidence that some wish to settle their accounts now."

Pope leads the country's largest "grass roots" environmental group, with 1.3 million members. He has spoken out forcefully several times over the last year on the Democrat-led campaign to enact climate legislation.

But his latest set of remarks offer the most comprehensive assessment of what it would take for Congress to win the Sierra Club's support. The essay also comes as Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain stands on the verge of winning his party's presidential nomination, all but guaranteeing the next president will support a stronger U.S. climate policy compared with President Bush.

Pope's essay outlined four key criteria that signal the Sierra Club wants to see changes to the fastest-moving vehicle on Capitol Hill, a bill from Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and John Warner (R-Va.) expected on the Senate floor this spring.

Congress should ratchet up the bill's emission limits to 20 percent by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050 for the entire U.S. economy. It also should auction off all of the emission credits needed for compliance with the new U.S. cap-and-trade system. If any credits go out for free, Pope said they "must be limited in size and restricted to a short transition period."

As written, the Lieberman-Warner bill seeks to limit emissions to roughly the same limits as Pope suggests. But the bill would cover about 85 percent of the country's greenhouse-gas sources, leaving out commercial and residential buildings. The bill includes both an auction and free allowances, but not on the scale sought by the Sierra Club.

Opposing coal, nuclear power

The Sierra Club also wants to channel auction revenue away from the development of new coal or nuclear power plants. Instead, it suggests that the funds go toward renewable energy research, to help offset energy costs for low-income consumers and to give in-transition assistance to workers and regions affected by the new climate policy. [Sara's note: WHAT!! So they want to take down the bill that actually PROVIDES rebates to people affected by higher energy costs . . . generated from the auctions they so hate -- and instead, put more money into RESEARCH . . . yeah, that's had a GREAT track record of bringing down costs by itself.]

In a nod to industry demands, the Lieberman-Warner bill leaves open the prospect that auction revenue can go toward nuclear power and carbon capture and sequestration from coal plants. Industry groups, in fact, want to see even more explicit language on both items.

Pope likened the current dilemma over a compromise on climate legislation to the 1970 debate over the Clean Air Act.

Then, electric utilities successfully pleaded with lawmakers to grandfather the existing fleet of coal-fired power plants from having to install state-of-the-art pollution controls. That agreement led to a lengthy legal fight that still continues to this day over the law's New Source Review permit and enforcement program.

"This time if we get it wrong, we can't argue we didn't see it coming," Pope said of industry calls for free emission allowances.

Environmental groups have offered Congress a wide set of opinions on what to do with global warming legislation during this election year.

Friends of the Earth is running print and television ads urging lawmakers to "Fix or Ditch" the Lieberman-Warner bill. By contrast, Environmental Defense earlier this week testified before the Senate Finance Committee in favor of moving the Lieberman-Warner bill this year with only minor modifications.

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