For Immediate Release
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167
"Breaking the Gordian Knot on Climate Legislation"
WASHINGTON - Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Thursday effectively
killed the Kerry-Lieberman climate bill for this legislative session,
saying: "We know we don't have the votes."
Co-author of "Climate Solutions: A Citizen's Guide,"
Barnes said today: "Now that the 'pragmatic' approach of buying off
special interests hasn’t worked, it’s time to try the alternative --
protecting families not corporations."
He recently wrote the piece "Breaking the Gordian Knot on Climate Legislation,"
which states: "The Senate is tied in knots on climate. In President
Obama's view, putting an economy-wide price on carbon is the most
effective way to stimulate clean energy investment and jobs. Most
Democrats -- though not enough -- agree. Roughly half a dozen
Republicans, given some political cover, might go along, but the party’s
leadership opposes a 'national energy tax.' Sixty filibuster-proof
votes are therefore not in sight. And after November, when Democrats are
expected to lose seats, the prospects look even grimmer. What is to be
"The conventional wisdom is to court Senatorial votes by giving
handouts and exemptions to polluting industries. This has been the
strategy pursued by Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.), Joseph Lieberman
(I-Conn.), and 'pragmatic' greens until now. It hasn’t worked and isn’t
likely to. The complexities are too great, and throwing people’s money
at giant energy companies isn’t a popular idea these days.
"There is, however, another way forward. It starts with the
cap-and-cash-back approach, a.k.a. cap-and-dividend, embodied in the
bipartisan CLEAR Act co-sponsored by Sens. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and
Susan Collins (R-Maine). Their 39-page bill caps and prices all carbon
emissions, but instead of rewarding polluters -- most of whom will pass
their cost of polluting to their customers -- it protects the people who
will ultimately pay the bills -- namely, us.
"The CLEAR Act requires all first sellers of carbon -- fuel
companies like Exxon-Mobil and Peabody Coal -- to buy permits from the
federal government. These permits are auctioned, not given away free
(after all, polluters should pay), and three-quarters of the proceeds
are returned as equal payments to all legal U.S. residents. This is
accomplished electronically every month, like Social Security. U.S.
manufacturers and workers are protected by carbon fees at the border."
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