The Climate Protection Act and the Sustainable Energy Act

February 15th, 2013 | Posted by Joep in Our Future | Policy

In the last two years, the biggest extreme weather events cost American families and businesses $188 billion. As we pump more and more greenhouse gas pollution into the atmosphere, these disasters are only going to become more common. We must do something now to take action. And, thanks to a bill that was introduced today, United States Senators have the opportunity to take action: They must pass the Climate Protection Act and the Sustainable Energy Act. Controversy has already arisen, but it is hitting all the right buttons. Get ready for more renewable energy, a rebate for households, investment in the new energy economy based on public private partnerships and energy efficiency. Think of weatherization of 1,000,000 homes per year. Talk about scale! Let hope most of the components get some serious attention.

Taken together, the Climate Protection Act and Sustainable Energy Act are a comprehensive climate bill, led by Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA). Most important, the package puts a price on carbon, which will make polluters pay for the damage they inflict on all of us while encouraging the transition to cleaner fuels. This $20 fee for each ton of carbon dioxide pollution will reduce emissions to 20 percent below 2005 levels by 2025. The bill would set a goal to slash heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent below 2005 levels by 2020 – in line with the Obama administration’s long-term emission reduction target.

It would set a $20 tax for each ton of carbon dioxide equivalent a polluter would emit beyond a set limit, which would rise 5.6 percent annually over a 10-year period. The bill that would tax carbon and methane emissions. These bills also bring in more than $1 trillion in new revenue over the next decade. The success of any pollution reduction program depends on how new revenue is spent, and these bills spend the money smartly. Broadly speaking, the money goes to three places: consumer protection, clean energy infrastructure, and deficit reduction. Each of these is important.

The tax would target upstream emissions from 2,869 of the country’s largest emitters, such as coal mines, oil refineries and natural gas processing points, or 85 percent of the economy. But it does not target power plants, which would continue to be regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency. The tax would also apply to foreign companies who export their fuels to the United States if their home countries do not have equivalent carbon measures.

A carbon fee is just like any other consumption tax in that it inordinately impacts low- and middle-income families. The Climate Protection Act and Sustainable Energy Act create a rebate program to make sure that these families are not harmed. Unlike other carbon tax proposals, sixty percent of the revenue would go to pay monthly rebates for citizens and legal U.S. residents who are bound to face higher electric bills as utilities pass on the tax to consumers. This is modeled after Alaska’s oil dividend, and will ensure that pollution reduction is not a regressive tax.

Other money generated by the tax would be used to invest in energy efficiency and cleaner technologies, such as weatherizing U.S. homes, tripling the current energy research at the U.S. Department of Energy and seeding a fund that would encourage public-private partnerships to develop renewable energy. To be more specific; it  would go toward “weatherizing” 1 million homes each year to make them more energy-efficient, increasing renewable-energy supply by setting up new wind- and solar-power projects, and creating a fund to attract private investment for clean-energy development.

Tyson Slocum, director of Public Citizen’s energy program, said he thinks businesses could come around to support the bill. He said the legislation could offer more predictable policy compared with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) emissions rules. EPA has begun moving ahead with climate regulations, and advocates want a more aggressive effort on that front during Obama’s second term.

Senate Environment and Public Works Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) said Thursday that she plans to move a comprehensive climate bill through her committee and to the floor by this summer. Boxer called the bill, sponsored by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), “the gold standard” for climate legislation.

It is hard to find, but here is a copy of it. Have a read, lets hope it gets the attention and credit it deserves.

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