Global Warming and Climate Change:
Real vs. False Solutions
In 2009, the House of Representatives passed the American Clean Energy and Security Act, a filthy energy bill sold as a climate solution and promoted by the largest (and most compromised) environmental groups. The bill used a flawed and unjust "cap and trade" policy to allow the trading of the right to pollute, which has not only been a failed policy for many reasons, but is unjust because of the way in which emissions reductions in certain communities create "hot spots" (usually in low-income communities and communities of color) where pollution would continue while companies buy credits to allow their continued pollution. While CO2 is a "global pollutant" -- meaning that the impacts aren't felt locally -- all of the other pollutants released from the same smokestacks have negative health consequences for communities.
Many environmentalists opposed the bill, and even climate scientist James Hansen called the bill "worse than nothing." Why? Because the bill failed to rise to the challenge, offered absurdly weak targets, provided ludicrous quantities of corporate handouts to polluters, funded a slew of dirty false solutions (carbon capture and sequestration, biomass burning, nuclear, etc). Overall, it sought to maintain business as usual, rather than putting the nation on the path to avoid catastrophic warming.
Despite this and many other problems with the policy, other filthy bills in the Senate were introduced by Kerry, Graham, Lieberman and others -- getting dirtier as they made further compromises in order to attract votes.
Many concerned citizens supported the passage of these bills, calling stridently for "strong action on climate change," unaware of the devil in the details. The devil dwells in the fact that many powerful industry and government interests view climate change not as a serious problem to be resolved by all means possible, but rather as an opportunity to maintain and enhance profits. They would seek to build more polluting incinerators, continue mountaintop removal and coal burning, expand industrial agriculture, drill our coastlines, mine uranium and build more nuclear reactors, leaving us to cope with more cancer, asthma and other health problems, and an altogether questionable future for our children.
When Kerry-Boxer introduced a companion bill largely mirroring "worse than nothing," it was entirely rejected by some Senators, who, unbelievably, fail to recognize climate change as a problem worthy of addressing, and are entirely beholden to their fossil fuel and other industry supporters. Kerry went back to the drawing board, this time inviting the participation of industry and the deniers who have made it clear that in order to win the needed 60 votes, they would require fulfillment of their "wishlist." We were then faced with a bill written to fulfill the wishes of the worst polluters and denialists and guaranteed to be FAR worse than nothing.
The Kerry-Graham-Lieberman bill even aimed to take away EPA's authority to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act -- our one proven tool for regulating air pollution, which industry fears because it will be more effective than the carbon trading schemes in this legislation. The Kerry-Graham-Lieberman bill even would have invalidated any state and local-level laws that are stronger than the weak policies in their bill!
Now that Obama, in his second term, made a speech in favor of a new effort at a climate bill, some are getting excited again about passing national climate legislation. We need to look no further than the text of Obama's speech
, and his accompanying policies, to see how dirty it would be. He promoted his "all of the above" strategy of more nuclear power, more oil drilling and fracking for natural gas, trash and biomass incineration, unjust cap-and-trade policy, and trade agreements
that undermine democracy and enshrine corporate power globally.
We need to be savvy and recognize that, until we get corporate money out of politics, real climate solutions will not be coming from the federal level of the U.S. government.
Why we (and lots of other groups) opposed the federal climate legislation
The Facts on False Solutions:
- Biomass / incineration:
- Biomass Factsheet
- No Biomass Burning in Climate Legislation
- Biomass Effects on Forest Cutting, and the Myth of Carbon Neutrality
- Stop Spewing Carbon campaign against Biomass Burning in Massachusetts
- Biomess: Massachusetts Forests and Environment Threatened by Forest Biomass Incinerators
- How much of your “clean, renewable” energy comes out of a smokestack?, Partnership for Policy Integrity, 10/4/2011
- New Biomass Energy Regulations in Massachusetts: Context for the Northeast, NRDC & Partnership for Policy Integrity, 10/22/2012.
- "Barriers" to Biopower, TVA Renewable Energy Information Exchange, Partnership for Policy Integrity, 4/24/2013.
- Testimony of the Partnership For Policy Integrity and The Project For Energy Accountability Regarding Proposed Substitute Bill No. 1138 (LCO No. 4767) An Act Concerning Connecticut’s Clean Energy Goals, Mary S. Booth and Margaret E. Sheehan, 3/19/2013.
- Landfills and incinerators
- Landfill gas
- Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS):
- Natural Gas:
- Nuclear Power:
- Cellulosic ethanol
- Climate Geoengineering with "C negative" Bioenergy (Biofuelwatch)