The Dernogalizer

June 18, 2009

Column on Waxman-Markey Bill

I have an op-ed out today about how the Waxman-Markey bill is being misrepresented, and despite its flaws we should still support it, and push for strengthening.  Sources at the end.  By the way, this doesn’t mean I’m not at direct actions protesting what I find objectionable.

The environment: Don’t hate, legislate

MATT DERNOGA

Issue date: 6/18/09

There are multiple perspectives being offered on a federal climate change bill called the American Clean Energy and Security Act. The bill’s authors, Henry Waxman and Ed Markey, laud the bill as strong and tough on coal. The environmental camp is split into those who feel passing this bill is better than passing nothing, and those who think the bill is so weak it should fail. The bill’s opponents think it will bring about economic Armageddon. 

For the record, I’d like to see a bill that slashes greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020, sells 100 percent of all its “permits to pollute” to industry for a steep price, has zero offsets, prevents construction of all new coal-fired power plants and invests $50 billion a year in clean energy. I’m feeling like Alex Rodriguez in the playoffs: 0 for 5.

The near-term target reduces emissions 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020, equivalent to 4 percent below 1990 levels. Most of the permits to pollute are given away for free. There are billions of tons of offsets available for use, coal plants can still be built and only $10 billion a year is invested in clean energy. Easy to make it sound bad. The reality is proponents of the bill exaggerate its strength, some environmentalists exaggerate its weakness and opponents are just plain wrong.

Take the 2020 emissions reduction target; it seems far too weak, until you look at the energy provisions in the bill, including a 20 percent renewable electricity standard, increasing emissions standards for existing coal plants and a mandate that all new buildings be 30 percent more efficient than they are now by 2012 and 50 percent more efficient by 2016. When these additional provisions are factored in, the bill can achieve a maximum reduction of 17 percent below 1990 levels. We’re going to overshoot our target. The energy efficiency provisions in the bill alone would save each American household $750 by 2020 and create 250,000 jobs. 

Ideally, you would want polluters to pay for 100 percent of the permits to pollute. The first test of the provision is how many permits are sold versus how many are given away for free. The bill fails here, giving away 85 percent at no cost. The bill is criticized as a massive corporate concession. Such quick judgment has disregarded the second test: How many of the permits are given away to public purposes versus to private industry? The critics have overlooked the fact that 80 percent of the permits are allocated to public purposes such as consumer rebates, low-income relief, international and domestic adaptation and technology transfer, just to name a few. Not a corporate giveaway.

These are just two examples of how the bill has been misrepresented. Opponents are expected to do this, but environmentalists undermine public support by calling the bill a lost cause. The media reports the misrepresentations of both sides, and neither gives Americans a reason to mobilize to make the bill stronger. It’s a real shame, since this bill is the only chance we have to get an international treaty in Copenhagen at the end of the year. As it currently stands, the legislation is mediocre, and it needs to be made stronger. Simply increasing the energy efficiency mandate by 5 percent would yield an extra $50 billion in consumer savings by 2030. 

There’s potential to do that and more, but people need to be inspired to step up. So, if you support producing more clean energy and less pollution, call your congressman. If you’re opposed, I’ve already cut your phone lines. 

Matt Dernoga is a senior government and politics major. He can be reached at mdernoga@umd.edu

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/06/12/AR2009061202072.html (17%)

http://www.greenpeace.org/usa/news/greenpeace-waxman-markey-clim (on 4% equivalent, just search  “4”)

http://belfercenter.ksg.harvard.edu/analysis/stavins/?p=108 (permit allocations)

http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/economics/pdfs/WM-Analysis.pdf (search offsets)

http://pdf.wri.org/usclimatetargets_2009-05-19.pdf (when energy provisions are considered % cut,  PG 3, bottom chart).

http://climateprogress.org/2009/06/04/waxman-markey-national-energy-codes/ (on building codes)

http://aceee.org/press/0906waxman.htm (on energy efficiency numbers)

http://www.grist.org/article/2009-06-06-renewable-biz-protests-RES/ (20% renewable standard)

http://www.grist.org/article/2009-06-06-renewable-biz-protests-RES/ (on 10 billion a year investment number, go to “investments in energy technology”, subtract 60 billion from the 190 number cause carbon sequestration isn’t clean energy, you get 130, bill goes into effect in 2012, and these numbers are for up to 2025, which is 13 years.  130 billion divided by 13 years is 10 billion a year).

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17 Comments »

  1. […] Cross-posted from: HERE […]

    Pingback by Column on Waxman-Markey Bill | CCAN Blog — June 18, 2009 @ 6:11 pm | Reply

  2. […] Cross-posted from: HERE […]

    Pingback by Column on Waxman-Markey Bill « It’s Getting Hot In Here — June 18, 2009 @ 6:11 pm | Reply

  3. […] See the article here: Column on Waxman-Markey Bill […]

    Pingback by Column on Waxman-Markey Bill « acc3ss.info — June 18, 2009 @ 7:23 pm | Reply

  4. The Waxman-Markey Bill – PRO…

    The environment: Don’t hate, legislate
    MATT DERNOGA
    Issue date: 6/18/09
    There are multiple perspectives being offered on a federal climate change bill called the American Clean Energy and Security Act. The bill’s authors, Henry Waxman and Ed Markey, l…

    Trackback by being global, young and green — June 19, 2009 @ 3:32 pm | Reply

  5. […] support the bill, or want a no vote from liberal Democrats.  I explain my position and rationale here.  I saw an article in the NY Times today which made me think a lot about the dilemma faced here. […]

    Pingback by Australia an Example one Way or the Other « The Dernogalizer — June 22, 2009 @ 1:34 pm | Reply

  6. […] support the bill, or want a no vote from liberal Democrats. I explain my position and rationale here. I saw an article in the NY Times today which made me think a lot about the dilemma faced here. On […]

    Pingback by Australia an Example one Way or the Other « It’s Getting Hot In Here — June 22, 2009 @ 1:38 pm | Reply

  7. […] support the bill, or want a no vote from liberal Democrats. I explain my position and rationale here. I saw an article in the NY Times today which made me think a lot about the dilemma faced here. On […]

    Pingback by Australia an Example on Way or the Other | CCAN Blog — June 22, 2009 @ 1:42 pm | Reply

  8. […] to sum up, my column on Waxman-Markey still stands.  It’s not as good as Waxman or Obama says.  It’s not […]

    Pingback by Deal Reached on Climate Bill « The Dernogalizer — June 24, 2009 @ 12:50 am | Reply

  9. […] was a true and prevailing theme at the rally today, and it was spot in.  Although I have been a proponent of the legislation because I think it does far more good than harm and has some great provisions […]

    Pingback by Waxman-Markey Passes House 219-212! « The Dernogalizer — June 26, 2009 @ 11:43 pm | Reply

  10. […] That was a true and prevailing theme at the rally today, and it was spot in. Although I have been a proponent of the legislation because I think it does far more good than harm and has some great provisions […]

    Pingback by Waxman-Markey Passes the House 219-212! « It’s Getting Hot In Here — June 26, 2009 @ 11:47 pm | Reply

  11. […] That was a true and prevailing theme at the rally today, and it was spot in. Although I have been a proponent of the legislation because I think it does far more good than harm and has some great provisions […]

    Pingback by Waxman-Markey Passes House 219-212! | CCAN Blog — June 26, 2009 @ 11:49 pm | Reply

  12. […] the bill barely better than nothing.  Although I have my fair share of criticisms, I’ve written before that I feel this bill does plenty more good than harm.  I’m reposting the column […]

    Pingback by Mike Tidwell Links Climate Change and Health Care, Calls on Obama to Step Up « The Dernogalizer — July 9, 2009 @ 1:18 am | Reply

  13. Thank you very much

    Comment by sohbet — July 9, 2009 @ 2:03 pm | Reply

  14. […] aggressive behind the scenes arm-twisting over the Waxman-Markey bill(which I support) to be pretty good.  At the same time, I’ve criticized his administration over the EPA […]

    Pingback by Obama: “I love Rick Boucher” « The Dernogalizer — July 29, 2009 @ 11:36 pm | Reply

  15. […] aggressive behind the scenes arm-twisting over the Waxman-Markey bill(which I support) to be pretty good. At the same time, I’ve criticized his administration over the EPA ruling […]

    Pingback by Obama: “I love Rick Boucher” « It’s Getting Hot In Here — July 29, 2009 @ 11:44 pm | Reply

  16. […] aggressive behind the scenes arm-twisting over the Waxman-Markey bill(which I support) to be pretty good. At the same time, I’ve criticized his administration over the EPA ruling […]

    Pingback by Obama: “I love Rick Boucher” | CCAN Blog — July 30, 2009 @ 2:45 pm | Reply


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