A Quaker Lobby in the Public Interest
Kerry-Boxer Climate Bill AnalysisClick here for the complete Kerry-Boxer climate bill analysis (17 page pdf)
October 29, 2009
Chairman Barbara Boxer
Senate Environment and Public Works Committee
410 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Dear Chairman Boxer,
We thank you for your continued leadership in working toward a solution for the climate crisis. The environment, economy, public health, and national security – of both the United States and the world – require strong climate action. We believe that the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act (Kerry-Boxer), S.1733, falls short of what is needed and we urge you to strengthen the legislation before it comes to the Senate floor.
The Senate climate bill must ensure emissions reductions that are consistent with the best available science and that can be adjusted as that science further develops. The latest science warns that the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere must be reduced to no more than 350 parts per million. While the targets in the Kerry-Boxer bill are stronger than those in the House-passed American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES), H.R. 2454, they are both less than what is necessary to avoid the worst effects of climate change.
The Clean Air Act already provides the President with tools to curb greenhouse gas emissions. By protecting most of the administration’s existing authority to use the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gases, Kerry-Boxer makes a significant improvement over ACES. Any climate legislation must not repeal these existing protections.
Unfortunately, the Kerry-Boxer bill contains many of the same loopholes in ACES that undermine the integrity of the cap. Of particular concern is the large number of offsets. By allowing pollution from domestic capped sources to increase for many years, offsets not only threaten the integrity of the cap, they also delay the shift to low-carbon technologies in the United States, and create localized toxic hotspots in communities of color and vulnerable communities.
Any mechanism to limit greenhouse gas emissions must be transparent, stable, and predictable, while minimizing the ability of private entities to manipulate the system. The Kerry-Boxer bill currently does not contain protections to ensure the integrity of the market mechanisms. The large quantity of offsets in Kerry-Boxer further increases the likelihood of market instability.
The Kerry-Boxer bill does not live up to the United States’ international obligations on climate change. To reach a fair international deal with meaningful global emissions reductions, the United States must both deeply reduce domestic emissions and provide adequate international climate finance for clean technology, adaptation, and reduced deforestation. Fulfilling these commitments will be essential to securing an effective international agreement.
Finally, any climate legislation must ensure that polluting industries are responsible for the costs of their pollution. All pollution permits should be auctioned off and the proceeds should be used to help consumers, those most at risk to climate change effects at home and abroad, and to promote clean energy and efficiency. Climate legislation must also be free of other subsidies or provisions that will foster the proliferation of dangerous or dirty energy such as nuclear power, coal, oil, and harmful biofuels.
What follows is our detailed analysis of the Kerry-Boxer legislation. A further analysis of the allocation scheme will be forthcoming. We thank you for your leadership on climate change and we look forward to working with you to improve the bill.
Center for Biological Diversity
Center of Concern
Church World Service
Clean Air Carolina
Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach
Corporate Ethics International
Friends Committee on National Legislation
Friends of the Earth
International Forum on Globalization
The Leadership Conference of Women Religious
Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns
National Catholic Rural Life Conference
Rainforest Action Network
Sustainable Energy & Economy Network
Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations
Unitarian Universalist Ministry for Earth
Unitarian Universalist United Nations Office
Click here for the complete Kerry-Boxer climate bill analysis (17 page pdf)