The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Obama's 'Number 1 Priority'


"Finding the new driver of our economy is going to be critical. There's no better driver that pervades all aspects of our economy than a new energy economy ... That's going to be my No. 1 priority when I get into office..." -- Barack Obama, Time magazine, Oct. 22, 2008

Co-author of Climate Solutions: A Citizen's Guide and author of "Capitalism 3.0: A Guide to Reclaiming the Commons, Barnes just wrote the piece "How Obama can revive the economy and heal the planet," which states: "There are many opinions about what should be part of a comprehensive energy policy, but the centerpiece nearly everyone agrees on -- the great lever that will tip the whole economy toward clean energy -- is a strong, descending cap on carbon emissions. If done correctly, such a cap will raise the price of polluting, spur innovation and conservation, and shift billions of dollars of private investment into new technologies for the next 40 years. But designing the cap correctly is critical; a half-baked, loophole-ridden and overly complex system will do more harm than good. The devil is in the details -- and, of course, in the politics.

"The most critical details involve where to place the cap and what to do with the permits the cap will create. The simplest and most effective place to put the cap is upstream -- that is, on the small number of companies that bring carbon into the economy. An upstream cap could be administered without monitoring smokestacks, without a large bureaucracy, and without favoring some companies over others. It would work for the obvious reason that, if carbon doesn't come into the economy, it can't go out. The declining number of permits that would be issued under the cap should then be auctioned rather than given away free -- all polluters would pay, and there'd be no politically chosen winners or windfall profits. Fortunately, Obama pledged during the campaign to do just this."

Barnes is a leading proponent of "Cap and Dividend," which would distribute revenue generated by auctioning off pollution permits equally to all Americans, like Social Security payments or the Alaskan oil revenue system.

A nationwide consortium, the Institute for Public Accuracy (IPA) represents an unprecedented effort to bring other voices to the mass-media table often dominated by a few major think tanks. IPA works to broaden public discourse in mainstream media, while building communication with alternative media outlets and grassroots activists.