An action alert from Citizens for Global Solutions prompted yet another message to my U.S. Representative:

Congressman Kirk:
I am pleased that Congress has made global warming a legislative priority. I understand that the Waxman-Markey Bill, H.R. 2454, is being rushed to vote in the U.S. House of Representatives as early as tomorrow, June 26. As you know from my previous correspondence, I strongly support strong action to mitigate the worst effects of climate change due to greenhouse gas pollution. However, with H.R. 2454 weighing in at more than 1200 pages of text that has yet to be officially published on, and with it still undergoing revision just a day before it is slated to be voted on, I cannot comment on its merits. I doubt you or your staff can either. This is itself an issue worthy of attention and one reason I support theSunlight Foundation’s call for all non-emergency legislation to be posted on-line for public review for a minimum of 3-days prior to debate, as embodied in H.R. 554. I urge you to support legislative transparency and allow room for thoughtful policy-making by enacting a 3-day minimum public review period.
However, with respect to the more immediate issue of H.R. 2454, I ask that you work quickly to streamline and strengthen the bill. Given its length, I have no doubt that this legislation has been loaded with dubious programs and budget allocations inserted as concessions to move it through the legislative process, while at the same time, I suspect the core cap and trade program to actually limit greenhouse gas pollution has been weakened. This legislation should be about one thing only: avoiding the most devastating potential impacts of climate change by meaningfully reducing greenhouse gas pollution in the most economically efficient manner. To that end, I ask that you work to strip out any extraneous, over-regulating, money-wasting provisions, and pass legislation that puts a price on greenhouse gas pollution, letting the market work out the details of how to actually reduce emissions. In particular, please strive to see that any enacted legislation:

  • Enforces hard, significant near-term cuts on global warming pollution with a specific, realistic, and aggressive timetable for a progressively decreasing cap based on the best available, continuously updated science, which currently calls for decreases to 35 percent below current levels by 2020 and at least 80 percent by 2050 to achieve atmospheric carbon dioxide levels of no more than 350 parts per million;
  • Ensures that all forms of global warming pollution are covered, with no sectors or industries exempted and no loopholes, such as unlimited “offsets” allowing polluters to postpone emissions cuts or “safety valves” limiting the fees polluters must pay for their emissions;
  • 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;
  • Provides an offset mechanism or other revenue stream that promotes sustainable practices and carbon offset projects in developing nations so that global greenhouse gas pollution reductions may be made while directing economic development in impoverished nations in toward sustainable economic growth, targeting equatorial countries in particular to prevent tropical deforestation, which accounts for 20 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions;
  • Forces all technologies to compete on their merits in the open marketplace, without “picking winners” in advance through subsidies, tax credits, or other government favoritism, in particular to nuclear power, which presents its own enormous set of environmental, health, safety, and national security issues;
  • Phases-out subsidies for the fossil fuel industry, which artificially increase production of these polluting energy sources;
  • Phases out subsidies & set environmentally sound sourcing standards for biofuels ensuring these interim energy sources actually reduce global warming pollution, do so at an efficient cost, and come from waste biomass so that they produce energy without threatening world food supplies;
  • Lessens the short-term economic pain of higher energy prices to U.S. consumers by applying credits against or reductions to personal income taxes;
  • Invests any revenue generated from polluters in transition/training programs for fossil fuel energy industry workers displaced by the disruption, as well as in clean energy research, energy efficiency incentives, and additional protections for consumers;

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. Particularly in context of the upcoming December 2009 meetings in Copenhagen to discuss the terms of the environmental agreement that is to replace the Kyoto Protocol, it is imperative that the U.S. takes a firm stand in leading environmental protection. 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 and securing a platform for negotiations with the international community.