Spurred by legislative alerts from the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Environmental Defense Action Fund (and in post hoc fashion, this one), I sent the following mash-up to Senators Durbin & Obama:

I am pleased to see that the U.S. Senate, following the lead of the rest of the world with the widespread international ratification of the Kyoto protocol, is finally rising to respond to the climate change threats created by anthropogenic global warming by considering legislation to cap U.S. greenhouse gas pollution. As your constituent, I urge you to strengthen S. 2191, America’s Climate Security Act, coming before the Senate this summer.

As repeated reviews of scientific studies by the Nobel prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change have made clear, we must take action now to curb greenhouse gas pollution in order to head off major climatic change and its potentially devastating consequences. The longer we delay taking remedial action, the greater the climatic change, the more pronounced its impacts, the more dramatically we will have to cut emissions in future years to achieve the same results, the higher costs to do so and the higher the costs to recover from the consequences of storm damage, flooding, crop failures, water shortages, and forced migration, and resultant human suffering and political turmoil that may result from significant climate change.

I understand that uncertainty exists surrounding the economic impact of S. 2191, with different analyses invoking different assumptions leading to different conclusions. However, I do not believe we have to choose between a growing economy and mitigating climate change. With the right policy, we can do both. Further, to avoid the costs of climate change impacts and to stay competitive in the 21st century, we must do both.

To this end, please support amendments to the Climate Security Act that would:

  • Lessen the short-term economic pain to U.S. consumers of higher energy prices by applying credits against or reductions to personal income taxes, making the legislation revenue neutral;
  • Enforce hard, significant near-term cuts on global warming pollution with a specific, realistic, and aggressive timetable for a progressively decreasing cap;
  • Ensure that all forms of global warming pollution are covered, with no sectors or industries exempted;
  • Set standards for environmentally sound biofuels ensuring these interim energy sources actually reduce global warming pollution without threatening world food supplies;
  • Sets greenhouse pollution allowance quantities low enough & trading prices (&/or tax rates) high enough to avoid the mistakes of the EU cap & trade system & force real market competition for nonpolluting energy sources;
  • Force all technologies to compete on their merits in the open marketplace, without “picking winners” in advance through subsidies, tax credits, or other government handouts, in particular to nuclear power, which presents its own enormous set of environmental, health, safety, and national security issues.

Global warming may be the most urgent environmental and humanitarian threat facing the planet today. It also represents a tremendous market opportunity to create the clean energy economy of the 21st century.

As the largest of per capita emitter of greenhouse gases in the world, America must shoulder its responsibility by taking meaningful action to protect the commons of the global climate. Please pass legislation that ensures we carry out this responsibility in such a way that compels the market to innovate, thereby stimulating the economy, increasing U.S. competitiveness, and creating new jobs.

Keith Gillette