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Burning The Future: Coal in America
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URGE CHANGES FOR S. 2191
Written by Scott Sklar   
May 17, 2008

STOP THE SENATE FROM PASSING A CLIMATE BILL THAT ONLY PROMOTES NUCLEAR AND CLEANER COAL!

WRITE YOUR REPRESENTATIVE AND URGE CHANGES FOR S. 2191

Should the United States support ONLY nuclear and COAL to reduce carbon emissions?

RE: Pending vote on the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act (S. 2191)

This letter give thoughts from clean energy organizations and individuals are writing to urge the Senate to give great care and thought to pending climate change legislation which may come to the Senate floor next week. Please include many of these points in your letter or e-mail to your Senators:

I believe that the grave threats posed by global climate change must be addressed now and action taken to rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Moreover, the pending vote on the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act (S. 2191), and any amendments that are offered, has the potential for setting the principles and parameters for any federal legislation that is ultimately enacted into law.  Consequently, we believe it essential that any bill that emerges from the Senate meet several criteria.

First, federal legislation must – at the very least – set the United States on course to reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by no less
than 80 percent by 2050 – a target higher than the 70 percent goal proposed by S.2191.  However, even a reduction of 80 percent may fall
short of what is actually necessary to avoid the worst consequences of climate change.  A growing number of analyses now suggest that far greater reductions, accomplished within a much tighter time frame, may actually be needed.  Therefore, we urge you to reject legislative proposals that would set merely symbolic or insufficiently aggressive goals.

Second, if a cap-and-trade system is to be part of the nation’s climate change policy, it should be designed thoughtfully and should be viewed as only one in an arsenal of strategies to shift the nation’s economy on to a path of sustainable energy development.

Carefully structured, a cap-and-trade system can play an important role in reducing GHG emissions.  However, a poorly designed system could prove to be economically costly and administratively difficult-to-administer, do little to promote renewable energy technologies, and result in the transfer of pollution to low-income communities without actually achieving any significant reductions in GHGs. 

If cap-and-trade is to be a part of the United States’ climate change strategy, it should provide for enforceable and rapidly declining ceilings
on GHGs, a simple and transparent administrative structure, protections for low-income and other vulnerable communities, and full auction of all carbon credits with the funds targeted at sustainable energy investments.

Third, national climate change legislation must give emphasis to making a rapid transition from fossil fuel energy sources to renewable energy
sources coupled with deep cuts in energy waste through energy efficiency improvements and other measures.  A number of recent analyses have suggested that U.S. energy use can be reduced by 30 percent or more while renewable energy technologies – some of which have been experiencing 30-45% annual growth rates in recent years – could be brought on line far more quickly than other options to meet most of the country’s supply needs.

Tapping this potential, however, would necessitate substantially more aggressive energy efficiency standards for homes and other buildings,
lighting and appliances, electrical generation and transmission, industrial machinery and processes, and agriculture.  It would also require much more stringent fuel-efficiency and emission-reduction targets for cars, trucks, and other vehicles coupled with fundamental changes in
national transportation policies.

To realize the full potential of the cross-section of renewable energy technologies, long-term (e.g., ten years) tax incentives, significantly
increased federal RD&D funding, expanded procurement policies, national interconnection and net metering legislation, a national (banded)
portfolio standard, and other steps must be acted upon.

In addition, changes in the federal tax code to encourage investments in energy efficient and renewable energy and to discourage continued use of carbon-based technologies, including phasing-out subsidies to fossil fuels and coal-fired electrical plants (unless they incorporate 100% carbon capture), need to be part of the mix. 

Similarly, national climate change legislation should not divert federal resources into long-term, unproven, expensive, and potentially
environmentally risky fossil fuel technologies such as so-called “clean coal” and carbon capture and sequestration.  The financial burden for
demonstrating the viability of these technologies should fall primarily on the shoulders of the fossil fuel industry and not federal taxpayers.

Finally, climate legislation should not include direct or indirect subsidies or mandates for nuclear power; in fact, such subsidies should be
phased out.  An expansion of nuclear power would merely exacerbate the still-unsolved problem of radioactive waste disposal while adding to concerns about plant safety, terrorism, and nuclear proliferation.  In just three years, cost estimates for new nuclear power plants have already tripled or quadrupled and continue to rise.  And when a full accounting of the full nuclear fuel cycle is considered, nuclear power is not the carbon-free technology its proponents suggest.

Consequently, investments in nuclear power would prove to be a costly mistake that would divert very limited public and private funds from sustainable energy solutions that can be brought on line far more quickly, at much lower cost, and with fewer safety and environmental risks.

In conclusion, we stress that we believe that early and aggressive action to address the threat of climate change is absolutely necessary.  But we also believe that great care and attention be given to designing legislative strategies that emphasize rapid deployment of sustainable energy strategies and not divert resources to nuclear power or speculative fossil fuel technologies.

We appreciate your consideration of these views.

Sincerely,

Last Updated ( May 30, 2008 )
 
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