Climate bill may come down to DeFazio

Charlie Burr

[Update, 4:39 p.m.:  Representatives DeFazio and Walden voted no.  Blumenauer, Schrader, and Wu voted yes.  HR 2454 passed 219-212. -editor.]

Will Congressman Peter DeFazio support the climate change bill, the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009?

As Al Gore, President Obama and other environmental leaders work the phones late into the afternoon, the bill's fate in the House appears very much up in the air. It's an imperfect bill to be sure, but I called Congressman DeFazio's office earlier today at 202.225.6416 to urge his support.

The vote is very big deal. Undecided progressives like DeFazio should keep the bill alive and send it to the Senate.  

From Huffington Post:

As a vote on a controversial climate change bill approached on Friday afternoon, Democrats on the Hill were turning their attention to progressive Democrats rather than attempting to recruit more Republican support for the measure.

The late-stage whip count on the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 has produced a particular political irony. A measure crafted by two progressive Democrats in the House of Representatives -- Reps. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.) -- over the course many years could hinge on the willingness of members of their own party to compromise.

For a bill that could be decided by one or two votes, holdouts could make all the difference.

"The irony here is that this bill, which people like Waxman and others have been working on for years, could be derailed, not by the right wing," said one high-ranking Democrat, "but by members of their own party. This could be the classic case of cutting off your nose to spite your face."

The key argument being conveyed is that this bill is the last big bite at the environmental policy apple. 

"If it goes down, climate change is stymied," said one Democratic aide.

In addition, progressives are being asked to support the measure now while keeping open the option of opposing it later. The Senate, after all, has to pass a climate change bill of its own, after which the two chambers will merge their products in committee and send it back for a final vote. House progressives, in short, will get another chance to make their principled stand.

"Rather than kill it now, we have got to keep the process moving," said the Democrat.

Read the rest here.

Here's Dan Kammen's take (Kammen was part of the team of IPCC scientists who won the Nobel Prize in 2007 and a great OLCV banquet speaker a few months ago): 

Imported fossil fuel energy costs the United States roughly the same amount each year as the TARP program. These purchases constitute the largest component of our foreign debt. Instead, we could be putting this $800 billion to work creating jobs and industries, and investing in education and training, instead of literally pouring these funds down oil and gas wells overseas. The American Clean Energy and Security Act is an exceptionally important statement and moment. It essentially encompasses recognition -- long overdue -- of the need to treat the environment with respect by establishing a price for pollution, and a recognition that we can use the market to help spur innovation.

Yes, the Waxman-Markey bill is complex and extensive, but it signals both a critical need to clean our energy economy, and a chance to create in the United States the companies that can lead the next Industrial Revolution. It is not a perfect bill, but absolutely should be passed.

See this report we released to the European Union last week.

Read Joe Romm and others at Politico.

Discuss.

Comments

  • (Show?)

    So why would DeFazio oppose this?

  • be like governor K (unverified)
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    I sure hope he doesn't.

  • Mike (one of the many) (unverified)
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    Rep. DeFazio spoke last week at the Portland City Club, and the first thing he said in his prepared remarks was that he was against this legislation. Why? He saw this as a financial boondoggle that will make Enron look like a good thing. He doesn't believe this will do anything for the environment; instead it will serve Wall Street and other financial games.

    Refer to his website for more detailed information on his position, or visit the City Club website to hear his entire presentation as an MP3 file.

    As I type this, the Bill just passed in the House, 219-212, but I did not see how DeFazio actually voted. I'm sure the details will be made available shortly.

  • (Show?)

    It's pretty great news. I'm thrilled that it passed.

    DeFazio's been leaning no for months, but his staff -- fwiw -- did say he was undecided this morning.

  • (Show?)

    There was some discussion about DeFazio's views on this issue here on BlueOregon - back in April.

  • (Show?)

    Charlie,

    You must not have been very persuasive!

  • James Frye (unverified)
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    Well, I'd have to take this no vote from DeFazio into consideration if he decides to run for Governor.

  • (Show?)

    I hope it has passed the House, just so we can see if the Senate can improve the bill. It is so far from perfect that I remaining leaning against it (here) and note that Greenpeace is against it (here).

    I would have preferred Obama start with a substantial, revenue neutral gas tax. Waxman-Markey is too complicated and, I fear, too full of special deals for this or that special interest to make any real impact on climate change.

  • Boats (unverified)
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    The Senate is going to kill it. This was among the dumbest bills ever put forth in any of the 111 Congresses to date.

  • Old Ducker (unverified)
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    I am not surprised by the continuing efforts to monkeywrench the US economy, in fact I expect them. I also expect it to meet with the enthusiastic applause of many americans, but everytime it happens, I shake my head in amazement anyway.

  • Kurt Chapman (unverified)
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    This is one of the least 'progressive' bills ever passed by a democrat controlled house.

    I applaud DeFazio for voting "No". I agree that it would create anarchy in the carbon marketplace and would make Enron look like a Sunday School picnic. Since it would also gut Appalacia and more than TRIPLE energy costs for all it is a bad bill that needs to die.

  • hsr0601 (unverified)
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    I'd encourage the skeptics over the man-made climate change to think of the sky in Beijing. The current consumption of dirty, noxious energy reminds me of human smoking habit.

  • Mike (one of the many) (unverified)
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    Pollution is one thing. Altering the climate is another. Yes, the smog is quite bad in Beijing and other parts of China. It still gets quite cold in those cites, too.

    I'd encourage the proponents of man-made climate change to ponder how our climate has changed considerably to both extremes long before man walked the earth. Oregon was covered by glaciers before man walked around these parts. We also have evidence of tropical plants in our fossils, too. Too many dinosaurs farting I guess; just like the cows today.

    Read Strassel in today's WSJ to see how the proponents are losing credibility due to their extreme views.

  • Bob Tiernan (unverified)
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    John Calhoun:

    So why would DeFazio oppose this?

    Bob T:

    Maybe because it's a terrible bill.

    Bob Tiernan Portland

  • jamie (unverified)
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    Hopefully this will result in congress going to the other party so that we can all prosper under a stalemate between congress and the prez.

    It is simply unbelievable that any so called progressive would vote to make life worse for people by raising their cost of energy, food and just about everything else.

    Buy maybe they are too stupid to realize the harm they are doing to their fellow people.

    In any case the people gave power to one party and that one party just screwed them.

  • The Libertarian Guy (unverified)
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    So the Futures Trading Full Employment Acts bill passes.

    We could do better by opeing the transit market to alternatives. Some have suggested that we could reduce emissions by as much as 50 to 75%.

  • Richard (unverified)
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    "The Senate is going to kill it. This was among the dumbest bills ever put forth in any of the 111 Congresses to date."

    Of course it is. Stupid doesn't do this bill and global warming justice.

    How is it that so many on the left such as

    Posted by: Evan Manvel | Jun 26, 2009 4:29:10 PM Hooray! House passed the bill 219-212. Thank goodness!

    think this is good?

    Could it be that the AGW movement has nothing to do with climate and everything to do with the left's enviro/land use/transportation/energy/taxation etc etc etc agenda?

    Of course.

    As Kari himself has acknowledged a couple times here, it doesn't matter if AGW is a complete fraud. All of the policies riding the AGW movement are needed anyway. It's just that too many people are too stupid to realize the wisdom Evan and Kari et al represent so a campaign of imaginary global warming must be used to advance all of their worthy causes.

    Never mind how reality pans out with high costs and catastrophic outcomes.

    When the whole country is run like California victory will be declared.

  • marv (unverified)
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    With out a doubt a terrible piece of legislation. A horrific three hundred page middle of the night amendment stuffed into the bill by presumably the democrats.

    Thankfully, the minority leader summarized a few of the more stinking changes. I am sure that every pending sale of existing houses would benefit from having to meet the California building code and other regulations before sale. Not.

    Look to California for some of the most destructive rules and regulations. Energy deregulation. MTBE. This was another Enron for all. It passed with the help of eight Republicans. We can only hope it is killed in the Senate. What is wrong with Pelosi? Everything.

    As goes California so the nation. Down the drain.

  • jim edelson (unverified)
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    DeFazio voted NO because he does not like the trading mechanism. He supports the cap, but wants to use the clean air act mechanisms to control global warming pollution. Even though I disagree with his vote, here is his intelligent floor speech:

    http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=107197708952&ref=mf

    Oregon, the country, and the world are already starting to face the catastrophic outcomes of global warming. This century is going to be very bleak if we don't start to limit this pollution immediately. It will be nothing like the twentieth century.

    Even though this bill falls short of what is needed, its a start, and the CBO and EPA both estimate that it will cost less than $200 per year per household. It will probably be less than that, since CBO did not include reductions in energy bills due to energy efficiency.

  • (Show?)

    once again, we see how lefty Dems help the right-wing maintain power: by refusing to move even some amount forward unless they get everything they want. this is twice DeFazio has turned against the president on a vital piece of legislation. i agree with him on the principle, but does he really think defeating this bill would have led to better legislation? what leads to better legislation is getting a first bill passed and then improving it in subsequent sessions.

    but no, better to lose entirely than accept something less than perfect. how we lose the battles, and the wars.

  • marv (unverified)
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    Factually, ta barnhart, you are in error. Without the votes of eight Republicans this stinking heap would have justly failed.

    Hopefully, it will be killed completely in the Senate.

    How about capping without modification of all building codes to comply with California standards. It seems that too many are not familiar with this hopelessly flawed and destructive piece of legislation.

    Before the sale of a house it would be inspected to see if it met California's codes and regulations. A sale could not take place until then. Seriously, this is not about climate change. This is designed to further ruin real estate transactions.

  • Jonathan Radmacher (unverified)
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    Listen to DeFazio's full City Club speech. One of his stories, about the evils of offsets, was particularly scary. A gas that the rest of the world destroys as part of the process of creating refrigerant (and which I think he said is 12,000 times worse than car emissions) is being stored by China, and only destroyed when European companies (under the thumb of cap and trade) pay China to destroy it. In other words, in the real marketplace, this stuff is destroyed, but in the cap-and-trade world of offsets, it's hoarded and sold, resulting in no net benefit to anyone except the capitalists in China.

  • jim edelson (unverified)
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    T.A. - you are right, it is hard to conceive that De Fazio thought the failure of this bill in the House would have helped control emissions. Sometimes he just doesn't listen well.

    Jonathan, you are right that offsets are a BIG potential failure of this bill to control emissions. It will all come down to whether the next phase of CDMs, and the offsets that are designed in this country, are truly additional. There is no certainty that this will be done,or we will come even close, because there are big money interests that would love to treat those as free money.

    Marv, you do not know what you are talking about. Section 231 of the bill makes no reference to other states meeting Title 24 Standards - the talking point you are repeating is a big fat lie.

  • Bob Tiernan (unverified)
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    Jonathan Radmacher:

    A gas that the rest of the world destroys as part of the process of creating refrigerant (and which I think he said is 12,000 times worse than car emissions) is being stored by China, and only destroyed when European companies (under the thumb of cap and trade) pay China to destroy it. In other words, in the real marketplace, this stuff is destroyed, but in the cap-and-trade world of offsets, it's hoarded and sold, resulting in no net benefit to anyone except the capitalists [mercantalists] in China.

    Bob T:

    There's also the example of carbon trading that Russia has participated in with the EU. As scientist Richard Muller pointed out, Russia's collapsing economy allowed it to "sell a large number of credits for carbon dioxide that it never would have produced. Trading of credits, in this case, led to an increase in the carbon dioxide dumped into the atmosphere over that which would have been emitted".

    Bob Tiernan Portland

  • Bob Tiernan (unverified)
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    t.a. barnhart:

    what leads to better legislation is getting a first bill passed and then improving it in subsequent sessions.

    Bob T:

    That's the opposite of reality. We get better legislation (sometimes) by forcing a bill to be well thought out, lean, and to the point. And sometimes legislation that invites distortions and dealmaking (like this one) gets worse when tinkered with over and over again following passage. The farm subsidies of the New Deal era are a great example. That bill created constituencies that would never let go, and now the left still supports this junk even though the bulk of beneficiaries are corporate farms and individual millionaire land-owners, like Scotty Pippin. Attempts to eliminate this junk are always attacked, strangley, as attempts to help corporate farms. So reform goes nowhere, and corporate farms benefit.

    If cap and trade passes, it will immediately create constituencies who will resist reform, or favor making it worse. That's the history of most law that deals with "managing" commercial activities beyond the basics.

    Bob Tiernan Portland

  • marv (unverified)
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    Curious. The amendment is a talking point? Facts don't matter. Ok.

  • Stephen Amy (unverified)
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    Markey of Massachusetts, ranking member on Waxman's committee, BRAGGED that there's 10x as much money for the non-existent pipe dream known as "clean coal" as there is for renewable energy.

    That along with DeFazio being right about the speculative aspects being hard to monitor as regards how much impact is really being had on emissions levels.

    A bad bill. We shouldn't settle for it- we can't afford to settle for it.

  • Stephen Amy (unverified)
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    I like the Russian example Bob Tiernan cited as regards the problems with the trading being able to achieve any positive effect.

  • jamie (unverified)
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    Curious. The amendment is a talking point? Facts don't matter. Ok.

    If facts mattered, there would be no climate "problem". It is a pure fabrication of some deluded "scientists" and people looking to get rich: Gore. Stern, Strong, wall street bankers et al. See sustainableOregon.com

  • marv (unverified)
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    The amendment presented at 3:09 am on Friday mandates all residences to conform with California building codes and specifications. The amendment also provides for the training of building inspectors and appraisers.

    Once law this monster would require an inspection to determine if a dwelling conformed with California standards. The sale would not be permitted until the modificaions were made. Reducing profits for sellers.

    Is there not already enough problems in real estate without putting a Federal inspection and unfunded mandate on top of it. If Walden and DeFazio agree that it is bad then it is bad. The other numb reps in Oregon are as errant as Pelosi.

  • (Show?)

    In e-mail from national groups that I got, they were divided. E.g. Union of Concerned Scientists, whom I respect a lot, were supportive. However, since the question seems to be why would DeFazio/why would anyone vote no?, let me offer what was offered to me

    From Credo (as part of their marketing campaign to get me to switch to Sprint), final version of bill was bad/worse than drafts these ways:

    For example, the legislation now: --Slashes requirements for renewable energy; --Reduces the targets for CO2 emissions; --Subsidizes the coal industry to the tune of $60 billion! --Eliminates EPA's power to further regulate CO2 emissions from any industry covered by the bill; and --Removes EPA from oversight of carbon offsets that relate to farming.

    The removal of EPA regulatory oversight and power over CO2 is particularly troubling to me. Also I don't believe in "clean coal."

    For a detailed discussion of why Progressive Democrats of America was urging Progressive Caucus (including DeFazio) & Black Caucus to vote "no" on the final version just approved, see here

    To try to summarize:
    1) Bill lowers effective renewable energy target by 2020 to 15% from 25% in draft; 2) Carbon emission reduction goals not nearly strong enough using IPCC standards 3) Offset provisions would allow U.S. not to reduce own actual emissions until 2040 4) Cap & Trade mechanism of carbon pricing is regressive & will disproportionately hurt lower and middle income people. (They advocate alternatives: revenue neutral carbon tax or "cap & dividend" 5) Carbon markets not regulated adequately & subject to abuses similar to those leading to financial meltdown 6) Subsidies for phony "clean coal."

    They also link to a May 19 critique presumably of earlier an earlier draft, published on Alternet. N.B. that the critics say matters got worse, not better.

    In addition there was an earlier critique I heard widely which was giving away the carbon credits in the cap & trade system rather than pricing them from the get-go.

    <hr/>

    I don't think T. A. Barnhart's observation can be applied across the board to all situations, and not even across provisions in this bill. Sometimes legislation provides a baseline from which improvement can be made. Sometimes what should be a floor becomes established as a ceiling.

    In the energy/pollution regulation area the track record is not encourage: consider the dismal history of failure to strengthen CAFE mileage standards across U.S. vehicle production for decades.

    Some of the problems cited for the bill will be more amenable to change later than others, e.g. targets, offsets if they prove illusory as seems likely, though even those will be fought as "changing the rules in the middle of the game."

    Tighter market regulation, maybe yes, maybe no.

    But the massive subsidies to phony "clean coal" are both environmentally regressive and represent a huge investment opportunity cost for genuine non-carbon renewables. Whatever gets spent on that is gone, no getting it back.

    Getting back EPA regulation of carbon (only recently definitively won in the Supreme Court) is almost certainly a long-term loss. Cf. FDA & "dietary supplement" patent medicines that "don't make medical claims" (nod, nod, wink, wink, say no more, say no more, a nod's as good as a wink to a blind bat).

    Steepness of curve in raising prices of carbon credits is imponderable. From simple emissions point of view, it might fit T. A.'s claim, or not.

    But the regressive economic character of the consequences of cap & trade sets up a perennial conflict among progressives over sustainability vs equity, when we should have been insisting on equitable sustainability.

    And, as the troll traffic here indicates, this is going to provide huge fodder for right wing populist appeals and revival of "liberal elitist" memes.

    Above all, the urgency of the problem makes T. A.'s claim that "we can fix it later" is an o.k. way to look at this deeply, deeply, troubling. All of delays implied above in the areas I'm more or less agreeing with him that later improvement is possible are delays we cannot afford.

    Agree or disagree over Peter DeFazio's vote -- but DON'T do what Earl Blumenauer did in his e-mail to me and treat this as some kind of huge victory. And DON'T trash those urging a no vote.

    If we treat it as a victory, it implies good enough for now, we can afford to wait for the improvements. We can't. We have to start working on them now.

    And to do that, we have to pay attention to why the no voters we know are serious and respect, like Peter DeFazio, are voting no.

    Because their reasons are the things we have to get to work on fixing RIGHT AWAY, if T. A.'s strictures are to really mean anything except an excuse for complacency about failure.

  • jamie (unverified)
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    Hey Chris:

    What do we do for energy to heat our homes, light our homes and drive our cars (which use less energy than mass transit)?

  • (Show?)

    If you think our cars use less energy than mass transit, you're dreaming.

    We change the ways we live to use less energy, and energy generated in different ways, and different kinds of energy (e.g. re-up the proportion of human energy in moving ourselves, especially over relatively short distances).

  • jim (unverified)
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    Chris, it may be that we cannot get anything better than this framework from this Congress, from which we must improve to get enough emissions reductions. No one is under any illusion (Earl's words were unfortunate) that this will solve the problem, but with Obama administering it for the next 3 years, it may be a start. Had we been sitting here this weekend with a failed vote, it would have been catastrophic.

    And your point about reclaiming EPA authority is valid. As we go into the Senate, I think retaining authority should be, and may become the bottom line for progressives.

    But Waxman was our best ticket here- from Matt Yglesias this past week:

    I think on the overall question of whether or not the package is worth supporting, probably the best thing you can do is read Charlie Homans’ Waxman profile from earlier this year in The Washington Monthly. There’s simply nobody else in Congress whose record of progressive legislative accomplishments can hold a candle to Waxman’s. When you draw intersecting curves of “what needs to be done” and “what can realistically be done,” Waxman has time and again put himself at the intersection, and I think it involves a fair amount of hubris to think that you know better than him what the best feasible legislative outcome is.

    That said, there’s really no getting around the fact that the best feasible legislative outcome isn’t good enough according to the climate science. What we’re left with is essentially the hope for an iterative process—a flawed bill that makes progress helps spur a productive meeting in Copenhagen helps spur some kind of bilateral deal with China which helps create the conditions for further domestic legislation. I think this is the best idea anyone has, but it’s a pretty dicey proposition. Bottom line is that to get a better bill you need a situation wherein a non-trivial number of Republicans are willing to contemplate emissions reductions. Faced with uniform Republican support for untrammeled pollution, the only viable legislative path involves buying off every Democrat.

  • Stephen Amy (unverified)
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    I just read Dennis Kucinich's statement on his website in opposition to H.R. 2454. Much of it is the same info. Chris Lowe has posted.

    After having reviewed this, how can anyone honestly say this is an adequate response?

  • Stephen Amy (unverified)
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    I accuse the environmental groups who've supported this of merely wanting to create amongst their donor base the appearance of their effectiveness at lobbying and getting results.

    I accuse the politicians who've supported this of merely wanting to create the impression that they've acted decisively and done the right thing on the question of our most serious problem.

    This bill is so bad that there can be no other correct analysis of their motivations.

  • jamie (unverified)
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    Chris Lowe If you think our cars use less energy than mass transit, you're dreaming. J No such luck - I look at real data from the real world. In this case the U.S. Department of Transportation:

    Cars: 3,512 BTU/Passenger-mile Transit buses: 4,235 BTU/Passenger-mile from: Table 2.13, TRANSPORTATION ENERGY DATA BOOK: EDITION 27–2008

    Chris Lowe We change the ways we live to use less energy, and energy generated in different ways, and different kinds of energy (e.g. re-up the proportion of human energy in moving ourselves, especially over relatively short distances). J Do you think we can just do this without paying a heavy cost in lowered standard of living?

    What is this "energy generated in different ways"? Have you found a practical non-carbon energy source, or are you advocating nukes? (Practical includes a consideration of cost, so those are your only two real world choices - solar and wind are non starters due to cost and intermittancy.)

    Or are you suggesting a "great leak forward" or perhaps a "worker's paradise" or maybe you envision us emulating Cuba.

  • (Show?)

    O.k. Jamie, thanks for educating me about a statistical fact. It is one I will think about. However, I suppose it comes back partly to debates over density & sprawl. Both modes of transport are underutilized relative to capacity. Cars in principle could lower their BTUs/passenger mile by having fewer single occupancy vehicles, mass transit by increasing ridership.

    An aspect here may be finances vs. energy use. I had a conversation a while ago with a planner from TriMet in which I asked him about why not use smaller vehicles rather than cut service in relatively underused areas. His answer was that the heavy buses are designed to last a million miles & the smaller ones nothing like that, would need more frequent replacement at higher $ cost.

    Some more market-oriented people here sometimes have suggested opening up transit to more private competition. That could be worth thinking about -- vans & mid-sized jitneys operating at fuller capacity & maybe greater flexibility or takig routes more places -- there'd be opposition from the taxi end.

    I am advocating a different standard of living. Actually, advocating debating and thinking different standards plural of living, and discussing what's lower & higher and how we value those things and how we combine them. For instance on the cars w/ lower BTUs per passenger mile, that's all well & good but if we've got driving patterns about how work and home are distantly separated, so that the cars are traveling many more miles, they're still using more BTUs. Now some folks advocate denser living in urban areas & prefer that, others want suburban space -- perhaps the "suburbs" need to become more autonomous urbs in their own right, with designs that permit less driving to get to work, or other kinds of destinations?

  • jamie (unverified)
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    Chris Lowe Cars in principle could lower their BTUs/passenger mile by having fewer single occupancy vehicles J Or by making smaller, lighter cars or more hybrids. That BTU figure is about 22 mpg. Hybrids easily double that. A new Chinese single passenger car claims over 200 mpg (if true.) The current transit model will never compete with that.

    Chris Lowe mass transit by increasing ridership. J Even transit in the big dense cities dosen’t do a whole lot better.

    Chris Lowe An aspect here may be finances vs. energy use. I had a conversation a while ago with a planner from TriMet in which I asked him about why not use smaller vehicles rather than cut service in relatively underused areas. His answer was that the heavy buses are designed to last a million miles & the smaller ones nothing like that, would need more frequent replacement at higher $ cost. J Economics rears the ugly head of reality. You choose your efficiency and pay your price. Want zero carbon power without nuke - just spend ten times what we currently spend to install solar on your roof. You will effectively be turning your current $100 dollar/month electric bill into a $500-1000/month expense. It can be done if money is no object. That is how the rich do it and get bragging rights.

    Chris Lowe Some more market-oriented people here sometimes have suggested opening up transit to more private competition. That could be worth thinking about -- vans & mid-sized jitneys operating at fuller capacity & maybe greater flexibility or takig routes more places -- there'd be opposition from the taxi end. J That appears to have great potential and great opposition from Trimet. And their union(s).

    Chris Lowe I am advocating a different standard of living. Actually, advocating debating and thinking different standards plural of living, and discussing what's lower & higher and how we value those things and how we combine them. J Then you are getting into having a debate about how OTHER PEOPLE SHOULD LIVE. How would you like George Bush to lead such a debate about how YOU should live? Or jimmy Swaggart?

    Chris Lowe For instance on the cars w/ lower BTUs per passenger mile, that's all well & good but if we've got driving patterns about how work and home are distantly separated, so that the cars are traveling many more miles, they're still using more BTUs. J How do you put jobs and housing together when two people work in different locations? Remember only minimum wage jobs are easily interchangeable. Highly skilled jobs are only available in a very few places per skill. Throw in a few kids in school, activities etc & you cannot reduce driving much. Besides why is it your place to tell others how to order their life? Perhaps they value other things higher than BTUs. It is not your place to set priorities for others.

    Chris Lowe Now some folks advocate denser living in urban areas & prefer that, others want suburban space -- perhaps the "suburbs" need to become more autonomous urbs in their own right, with designs that permit less driving to get to work, or other kinds of destinations? J Actually jobs are spread out throughout the region. As is housing.

    A real problem is that lately housing locations are being decided by political pressure groups instead of demand. A free market would put housing where the jobs are. Metro is putting housing in Damascus while the jobs are in Beaverton. Only politicians would be so stupid. And of course they are not stupid, they are just pandering to campaign donors and pressure groups.

  • Stephen Amy (unverified)
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    jamie: if a diesel bus gets 7 mpg and carries 30 passengers, then each passenger requires only .3333 of a gallon to travel a distance of 70 miles.

    If a passenger car gets 20 mpg and carries 3 people, each passenger in it requires 1.167 gallons to go a distance of 70 miles.

    There is something about the stat you quoted which is not taking this aspect into consideration, I'd say.

  • (Show?)

    TA's comment is interesting.

    I've always thought of Peter Defazio as a progressive populist, not a leftist. I tend to agree with Rep. DeFazio's concerns that this bill will be a boondoggle, and with Bob T's assertion that there is no reason to suppose that any future iteration of this bill will improve it because there will be a constituency of billion dollar corporations that will benefit from gaming the new system.

    Regarding Jamie's comments -- Having a discussion about how to spend public money on transportation and other infrastructure is not tantamount to telling anyone how to live.

    Regarding his comments about the cost of solar and other alternative energy... There is a significant input cost to developing ANY new technology. Public investment in solar is microscopic when compared to public investment in developing nuclear.

    For me, the bottom line is that the United States is going to need a diverse energy portfolio to make steps toward energy security and energy independence. There will be a price tag associated with it, but it is money that will ultimately create new industries and new jobs.

    Further, there is no reason to suppose that over time that investments in harvesting renewable resources like solar, wind, wave, and geothermal will not yield a long-term cost benefit for consumers.

    For example, the cost of manufacturing solar cells is expected to drop significantly over the next few years as manufacturers have developed new techniques that either improve the process of developing the crystalline silicone coating and/or replacing crystalline silicone with aluminum oxide, cadmium, etc.

  • marv (unverified)
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    Advocating for a different standard of living has been the agenda of progressives of the ultra rich. Lets see. Reagan tax cuts saved by raising social security w/h seven times and then including those receipts in the general fund to avoid Gramm-Rudman; trade agreements that bring about deindustrialization; anti-union policies like firing the air traffic controlers, etc;Gram,Leach,Blyely to remmove banking regulations. Robber banks.

    All of these things intended to destroy a middle class and lower the standard of living for the vast majority of the american people while concentrating wealth in the hands of about one tenth of one percent of the population.

    So, what else? Oh yes, no health care reform that would actually help small business and the people. And while we are at it lets delude ourselves into thinking this is a progressive agenda and anyone who disagrees is a troll.

    Chris writes very well but changing the standard of living the way the Republican/Democrat parties have been doing is not a truly progressive agenda. Deluded by his own rhetoric and still a very good writer.

  • Bob Tiernan (unverified)
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    marv:

    anti-union policies like firing the air traffic controlers

    Bob T:

    Interesting that so many people still want to see that only in those terms. They deserved to get fired. Fortunately, many of them never went on strike because they knew they were not permitted to do that per the contract, and they didn't believe they'd get away with blackmailing the taxpayers. They would have been fired even if there had been no union.

    Bob Tiernan Portland

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    Hey Marv, Huh?! Want to show me anywhere I've advocated anything like what you're describing?

    Deluded about strategy I may well be, since uncertain I certainly am. Harry Kershner used regularly to tell me I was deluded on that score, but his proffered alternatives hadn't done any better that I could see. They had a stronger claim about personal integrity.

    Since I can't claim that the strategies I've supported thus far have produced anything like the results I'd like, he could be right. On the other hand, unfortunately, the same thing appears to be true of the other strategies and tactics on offer.

    On healthcare, are you saying I should be advocating for a public plan option rather than single payer? Thought you were a single payer guy.

    Please explain.

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    Oh Jamie, you humorous paradoxalist!

    You want to tell me how to live my life to the point of saying that I can't even have conversations with people about what makes a good life and a good standard of living?

    You seem to be of the school of thought of Margaret Thatcher, that "there is no society, only individuals and families," or at any rate ought not to be.

    It is somewhat hard for me to see how you organizing with others to impose that erroneous view of the world on me and others is any less coercive than my organizing with others to try to order society in light of another view of matters.

  • (Show?)

    Whether to settle for an imperfect bill in hopes it can be improved in the future or to kill it because it puts in place bad systems that will be difficult to reshape are themes of both the national cap-and-trade and health care bills, and in Oregon, for me, on the state budget and tax issue that may go to referendum. Difficult issues.

    I lean against the current cap-and-trade, as I understand it, because it allocates free emission permits to many existing industries. This both delays the needed market signals of increased prices for dirty energy and puts in place a non-level playing field. To support the bill I would need to be convinced that these early advantages given existing polluters (and coal and nuclear) would disappear over time. Otherwise, no bill is probably better than this bill.

    On health care, the issue is whether a bill lacking a public plan option could evolve with further legislation to include a public plan option. Or not. I do not think single-payer has the votes. I would prefer including a public plan option, but, if the only way to get universal coverage and control costs leaves it out, I could support such a bill. I think a public plan option could be added later.

    At the state level, I am unhappy with the education budgets (both K-12 and Higher Ed). They ignore, IMHO, strategic priorities. We will probably vote on several tax referenda to pay for those budgets. I support those tax measures as increasing tax fairness but not how the money will be spent. I’m still considering these possible votes and what is the best path to needed change.

  • marv (unverified)
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    Yes, Chris, I support a single payer system.

    The energy bill that passed the House will weaken the economy. Your advocate this legislation. It is a bubble creator not a problem solver.

    With a majority in both the House and Senate wouldn't one expect a reversal of the destructive legislation and policies of Bush, Reagan and Clinton?

    Since that is not happening and single payer is not going to happen is that the change you can believe in?

  • PSC Tony Farkas (unverified)
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    So, in other words, all you "keep your powder dry" and "don't spend political capitol easily" Democrats, your punting the issue of Democratic foot-dragging has left the big confrontation between party members, not between parties.

    Is this what you meant about picking your fights well? How about admitting that there's not much difference between mainstream Dems and Reps, as everyone with a brain was arguing during those "powder and capitol" discussions. And we have to go to your MOST PROGRESSIVE to get the level of action that middle of the road lawmakers accept around the world. That proves the oft-asserted contention among true progressives that an American progressive- a raving one, like DeFazio- is someone that has shown a glimmer of progressive thought. As this vote shows, it's just a glimmer; nothing that can be counted on.

    This is why you will find yourselves just as out of it in coming years as the Republicans. More so. When businesses are paying though the nose to just keep the lights on, they will be mighty po'd at the Reps for stonewalling, but that's what they were elected to do. Their real wrath will no doubt be reserved for Dems, who were supposed to be different. At least Reps admit they are feckless.

    And every successive issue, those that have left only say the louder how glad they are. Not to worry. It's Sunday. Surely Carla will have something to guffaw about that the Republicans said. I've an idea. How's about pols of both stripes do morality plays to earn their money. Leave the politics to people that will address issues. The parties define everything strictly in terms of their one-upmanship over the other, never saying , "was this good enough for the country", always wanting to appear in the right, and down with the people. Fine. Become professional actors. There's real work to get done, and BOTH PARTIES do more to stop ANYTHING than to promote any particular idea, EVER!

    Fuck your goddamned mothers' milk and fuck what you think you have to go along with to get along. You have no credibility from results. Since this blog's inception, Kari has ridiculed government service as service, meaning "not a top paying job, requiring personal sacrifice". These hacks have show utter contempt for the concept, while telling us that their perennial non-results is smart politics. Their stooges SPEAK to us and 15 people grovel their appreciation.

    Congress computes the "poverty line", as the limit you can just get by on. That should be their wage, and taking any soft money or quid pro quo should be a felony. Kari claims that leads to third world graft and everyone on the take, "just to get by". BULL FUCKING SHIT!!! You really can't call a greedy pig a greedy pig, can you, greedy piggies? And, by the way, a lot of corrupt, third world politicos have done more positive on climate change than ANY of your power primates.

    Screw joining another party. Are those Al-Quaeda training camps still around? If the US can' shake this crap, I'd as soon put a bullet in every one of your stupid skulls as watch you destroy the earth for the sake a your party politics. This fourth, as you celebrate god knows what, watching the tactical air wing burn jet fuel to inspire you, you do have something to be proud of. When a population saturation is reached, most those extra bodies spend all their time simply trying to screw with other people. The US can celebrate having achieved that to a far, far greater extent than any collection of useless bodies in history.

  • (Show?)

    Marv,

    Excuse me, where do I advocate the energy bill that passed the House? You are wrong.

    Actually I was the one who posted the details of why someone might reasonably oppose it.

  • marv (unverified)
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    You are correct, sir, and I apologize.

    Perhaps I was thrown off by your advocacy of a change in the standard of living. What does that involve? A living wage? Repeal of NAFTA? Enforcement of WTO?

    Which direction for the majority? When we advocate for change only to find more of the same what do we do with our frustration. Obama and team are not the change I want. The democrats are failing in their spectaculor immitation of the republicans. They will be voted out.

  • jamie (unverified)
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    Chris Lowe You want to tell me how to live my life to the point of saying that I can't even have conversations with people about what makes a good life and a good standard of living? J I did no such thing. I merely objected to you planning to tell others how to live.

    Chris Lowe You seem to be of the school of thought of Margaret Thatcher, that "there is no society, only individuals and families," or at any rate ought not to be. J Does that mean you think we all should be obedient little robots?

    Chris Lowe It is somewhat hard for me to see how you organizing with others to impose that erroneous view of the world on me and others J It is not imposing anything. It is letting others alone.

    Chris Lowe is any less coercive than my organizing with others to try to order society in light of another view of matters. J You have a strange view of coercive.

    BTW, did you ever figure out any practical replacement energy source? You know one that we can afford and that actually will work when the mandates kick in?

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    Lots of projection going on Jamie. Nothing I wrote any more reflects my "planning on telling others how to live" than what you've written. I wrote about having conversations.

    We're at bottom both talking about ground rules for living in society with social comity and I would suppose fairness according to our lights, which are different lights, to be sure -- but either set of ground rules, or any, restricts other people's choices. Yours too.

    You say that what you are organizing for politically "is not imposing anything, it is letting others alone." Sorry, when you drive a car (to take just one example of the ineluctable reality of human social existence and mutual and interactive effects of our actions on one another) you aren't letting others alone, given all the costs that car production, driving and infrastructure externalize onto others and the ecological commons and the public health. Still less are folks who advocate for public policies promoting auto driving and its infrastructure entailments and consequences simply "leaving others alone."

    Chris Lowe You seem to be of the school of thought of Margaret Thatcher, that "there is no society, only individuals and families," or at any rate ought not to be. J Does that mean you think we all should be obedient little robots?

    Holy Non-Sequitur, Batmn! You want to explain how your response relates remotely to what I wrote?

    As to alternative energy sources, I am unprepared to argue them in detail with you at the moment. I will readily concede that you would argue rings around me, at the moment, in such a debate. But that is merely a reflection of my having been concentrating my thinking on other matters, not that there are no answers to your oversimplified rendering of the issues. Your propositions simply are not incontestable and uncontested as you assert, and my personal unpreparedness as a debater at this moment on the issues doesn't meant that there isn't a more complex and serious debate to be had than you assert.

    You are of course right that there are no easy or simple answers. You might also note, if you go back and look at what I wrote, that the first thing I mention is using less.

  • (Show?)

    Lots of projection going on Jamie. Nothing I wrote any more reflects my "planning on telling others how to live" than what you've written. I wrote about having conversations.

    We're at bottom both talking about ground rules for living in society with social comity and I would suppose fairness according to our lights, which are different lights, to be sure -- but either set of ground rules, or any, restricts other people's choices. Yours too.

    You say that what you are organizing for politically "is not imposing anything, it is letting others alone." Sorry, when you drive a car (to take just one example of the ineluctable reality of human social existence and mutual and interactive effects of our actions on one another) you aren't letting others alone, given all the costs that car production, driving and infrastructure externalize onto others and the ecological commons and the public health. Still less are folks who advocate for public policies promoting auto driving and its infrastructure entailments and consequences simply "leaving others alone."

    Chris Lowe You seem to be of the school of thought of Margaret Thatcher, that "there is no society, only individuals and families," or at any rate ought not to be. J Does that mean you think we all should be obedient little robots?

    Holy Non-Sequitur, Batmn! You want to explain how your response relates remotely to what I wrote?

    As to alternative energy sources, I am unprepared to argue them in detail with you at the moment. I will readily concede that you would argue rings around me, at the moment, in such a debate. But that is merely a reflection of my having been concentrating my thinking on other matters, not that there are no answers to your oversimplified rendering of the issues. Your propositions simply are not incontestable and uncontested as you assert, and my personal unpreparedness as a debater at this moment on the issues doesn't meant that there isn't a more complex and serious debate to be had than you assert.

    You are of course right that there are no easy or simple answers. You might also note, if you go back and look at what I wrote, that the first thing I mention is using less.

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    Marv,

    I support all of the things you mention, but they are not really what I was thinking about.

    At bottom I suppose I am talking about moving to an economy that is less based on production, circulation/ exchange and possession of things, particularly things requiring intensive energy inputs to produce, move or use, and more based on exchange of personal services or low-material, low energy, low pollution products.

    And "higher" and "lower" standards become complex. Take for example water management including provision of clean drinking water, handling of sewage, dealing with rainwater runoff, flood management and so on. Over the past two centuries related techniques and technologies in such matters, have advanced tremendously, and, in conjunction with improved scientific understandings of disease processes and transmission, have led to enormous improvements in public health and declines in mortality and debility caused by infectious disease. I am peripherally involved as one of several dozen advisors relating a process going on in Portland's Bureau of Environmental Services called the "Grey to Green Initiative" (no idea why the British/Canadian spelling).

    "Grey" in this context roughly means concrete, asphalt and some roofing materials, whether in pipes, roadways, buildings. According to some BES people at a recent meeting, up to some point in the relatively recent past ideas of "high standard of living" in the issues of water management would have been focused on engineering and hydrology in a narrow way, and solutions for moving, preventing the movement and treating water that relied on "gray" techniques and tools, associated with presuppositions that they provided greater control and that what was more human produced, engineered and controlled was better.

    More recently they have embarked on using different methods, in part due to having recognized that say large areas of impervious surface cause unnecessary problems or extend new needs for water management, and in part due to imposition of new regulatory constraints and tolerances on the definition of the "engineering problem" to be solved, relating to pollution reduction, wetlands and habitat preservation or restoration and similar kinds of issues.

    And it turns out that the new methods used to meet those constraints often are cheaper than the "gray" ones, and that use of properties of trees and other plants, of soils, of wetlands and so on for the water management purposes have beneficial unintended or secondary consequences in many instances, some of which may interact with other systems -- so say "green streets" that use less pavement and more plants to deal with runoff can be designed also to meet traffic calming goals in residential or business neighborhoods, or that trees which have water management benefits also have air pollution and noise mitigation benefits.

    So the change in the standard of living in a material sense involves using less of some stuff, and more of other stuff, and using some things differently. And the standard in the sense of the criteria of measurement of success is both changed in values (though not in core functions such as sanitation for health) and to a certain degree widened, at least potentially, to include consciousness of secondary benefits and interaction with other systems.

    Personally on the whole I'd see this as an improved standard of living, even though quantitatively in a number of regards it means using less, but maybe it's just a different standard.

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    DeFazio is absolutely right. This bill was intended to do absolutely nothing except gain Republican votes. Way to go, majority!

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    "I would have preferred Obama start with a substantial, revenue neutral gas tax."

    Obama is no help: Read "Obama's Used Green Team: Meet the Retreads" at http://www.counterpunch.org/stclair06262009.html

    DeFazio wasn't the only Dem who opposed this bill. So, too, did Dennis Kucinich for a good reason - http://www.truthdig.com/eartotheground/item/20090627_kucinich_says_climate_bill_might_make_things_worse/

  • jamie (unverified)
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    Stephen Amy Jun 28, 2009 6:49:14 AM jamie: if a diesel bus gets 7 mpg and carries 30 passengers, then each passenger requires only .3333 of a gallon to travel a distance of 70 miles. J A few details: The average bus gets less than 7 mpg, 5 I’d guess. The average bus caries about 10 people, not 30. Buses also carry zero passengers to and from their route. Add it all up and you get the numbers that I posted. They are from the Feds. Similar numbers can be found elsewhere. Including Trimet data at PortlandFacts.com BTW, that BTU number corresponds to about 33 passenger-miles/gal. (138,691 Btu/gallon for diesel) and the average USA car carries 1.57 people. Later stats breakdown by type of trip.

    Stephen Amy Jun 28, 2009 6:49:14 AM There is something about the stat you quoted which is not taking this aspect into consideration, I'd say. J I’d say you should look at real data instead of wasting your time on idle speculation.

    You can start with authorative information source, the national transit database. Just find the “Sources of Energy (in Thousands) Gallons” and the “Passenger Miles Traveled” data and do the arithmetic. Table 17 has the energy consumption. Table 19 will give you the miles traveled. MB = motor bus; LR=Light Rail. You can also find ferries etc there.

    O’Toole has combined the data from NTD’s many different spreadsheets into one at: ti.org/NTD07sum.xls

    Have fun.

  • record aol radio music (unverified)
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    thanks a lot!

  • Zarathustra (unverified)
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    Agreed, Americans don't see the meaninglessness of "getting on with my life", in the big scheme. Yes, if justice prevailed, some great cosmic plague would wipe out everyone with a particular kind of cholesterol (read, Americans). The right attitude? Pay any cost, and BTW, thanks for the chance. No matter, that will soon not be the case any longer. Those who want fighting don't have long to wait until we start shooting water thieves. When we do, just tell yourself that you were able to hold out on the climate change bill!

    Since the plauge isn't coming- the redeeming one, not the latest administration plan- how about doing something very unAmerican this 4th? I suggest listening online to the annual cricket match between Oxford and Cambridge. Of course Cambridge is full of naive realists, so they have an advantage batting, but I pull for my alma mater, and believe I would on grounds of good judgement anyway.

    Now that's the systematic abuse of a discipline invented particularly for that abuse!

  • jamie (unverified)
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    Zarathustra When we do, just tell yourself that you were able to hold out on the climate change bill! J Does this mean that you actually have found real evidence that CO2 causes dangerous warming?

  • George Anonymuncule Seldes (unverified)
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    WHAT'S WRONG WITH THE ENERGY BILL Rep. Dennis Kucinich - I oppose H.R. 2454, the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009. The reason is simple. It won't address the problem. In fact, it might make the problem worse. It sets targets that are too weak, especially in the short term, and sets about meeting those targets through Enron-style accounting methods. It gives new life to one of the primary sources of the problem that should be on its way out - coal - by giving it record subsidies. And it is rounded out with massive corporate giveaways at taxpayer expense. There is $60 billion for a single technology which may or may not work, but which enables coal power plants to keep warming the planet at least another 20 years. Worse, the bill locks us into a framework that will fail. Science tells us that immediately is not soon enough to begin repairing the planet. Waiting another decade or more will virtually guarantee catastrophic levels of warming. But the bill does not require any greenhouse gas reductions beyond current levels until 2030. There are several aspects of the bill that are problematic. 1. Overall targets are too weak. The bill is predicated on a target atmospheric concentration of 450 parts per million, a target that is arguably justified in the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, but which is already out of date. Recent science suggests 350 parts per million is necessary to help us avoid the worst effects of global warming. 2. The offsets undercut the emission reductions. Offsets allow polluters to keep polluting; they are rife with fraudulent claims of emissions reduction; they create environmental, social, and economic unintended adverse consequences; and they codify and endorse the idea that polluters do not have to make sacrifices to solve the problem. 3. It kicks the can down the road. By requiring the bulk of the emissions to be carried out in the long term and requiring few reductions in the short term, we are not only failing to take the action when it is needed to address rapid global warming, but we are assuming the long term targets will remain intact. 4. EPA's authority to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the short- to medium-term is rescinded. It is our best defense against a new generation of coal power plants. There is no room for coal as a major energy source in a future with a stable climate. 5. Nuclear power is given a lifeline instead of phasing it out. Nuclear power is far more expensive, has major safety issues including a near release in my own home state in 2002, and there is still no resolution to the waste problem. A recent study by Dr. Mark Cooper showed that it would cost $1.9 trillion to $4.1 trillion more over the life of 100 new nuclear reactors than to generate the same amount of electricity from energy efficiency and renewables. 6. Dirty coal is given a lifeline instead of phasing it out. Coal-based energy destroys entire mountains, kills and injures workers at higher rates than most other occupations, decimates ecologically sensitive wetlands and streams, creates ponds of ash that are so toxic the Department of Homeland Security will not disclose their locations for fear of their potential to become a terrorist weapon, and fouls the air and water with sulfur oxides, nitrogen oxides, particulates, mercury, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and thousands of other toxic compounds that cause asthma, birth defects, learning disabilities, and pulmonary and cardiac problems for starters. In contrast, several times more jobs are yielded by renewable energy investments than comparable coal investments. 7. The $60 billion allocated for carbon capture and sequestration is triple the amount of money for basic research and development in the bill. We should be pressuring China, India and Russia to slow and stop their power plants now instead of enabling their perpetuation. We cannot create that pressure while spending unprecedented amounts on a single technology that may or may not work. . . 8. Carbon markets can and will be manipulated using the same Wall Street sleights of hand that brought us the financial crisis. 9. It is regressive. Free allocations doled out with the intent of blunting the effects on those of modest means will pale in comparison to the allocations that go to polluters and special interests. The financial benefits of offsets and unlimited banking also tend to accrue to large corporations. And of course, the trillion dollar carbon derivatives market will help Wall Street investors. Much of the benefits designed to assist consumers are passed through coal companies and other large corporations, on whom we will rely to pass on the savings.
  • jamie (unverified)
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    What do we use for energy after we phase out Nuke & coal?

    Treadmills?

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    According to Glenn Greenwald, the White House (hat is, Obama and his consiglieri are not too happy with "Democratic Rep. Lloyd Doggett,due to an impassioned floor speech he gave arguing that the bill was so industry-friendly that it would do more harm than good." Bullying Congressional Progressives: Creepy, Revealing Quote from White House Staffer Presumably, DeFazio and Kucinich knew the White House would be unhappy with them for voting against this bill, so it took a lot of courage on their part.

    Several progressive wseb sites have agreed this is a sorry and flawed bill that had hundreds of pages that were never read by the representatives voting for it. Though they agree the bill was seriously flawed, these progressive sites were divided on whether to vote for the bill or not.

    This is from Friends of the Earth:

    "Friday was an historic day. For the first time ever, the U.S. House passed major climate and energy legislation: the Waxman-Markey bill.

    "Unfortunately, the bill is so corrupted by polluting special interests, including Shell Oil and coal hog Duke Energy -- as well as corporate agribusiness and Wall Street -- that we can't celebrate. Instead of bringing about the transition to clean energy President Obama spoke of during his campaign, this bill is actually counterproductive, gutting the EPA's authority to fight global warming."

  • jamie (unverified)
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    "Unfortunately, the bill is so corrupted by polluting special interests, including Shell Oil and coal hog Duke Energy Isn't it great how the protectors of the public are actually supporting raising energy prices to the point that poor people will not be able to afford heat for their home.

  • Bob Tiernan (unverified)
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    Andrew Plambeck:

    DeFazio is absolutely right. This bill was intended to do absolutely nothing except gain Republican votes.

    Bob T:

    I doubt that. Seriously. There were only a handful of Repubs who did so, and that small number (and more) were bought by the Dems using tax dollars to promise some kind of pork or earmarks or something to help them use for re-election purposes. This is why that sort of money is corrupting.

    Bob Tiernan Portland

  • Bob Tiernan (unverified)
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    Sal Peralta:

    ...there is no reason to suppose that any future iteration of this bill will improve it because there will be a constituency of billion dollar corporations that will benefit from gaming the new system.

    Bob T:

    Never let the politicians off the hook -- keep in mind that they want systems that various constituents can game because then they get to play game master and warlord.

    Bob Tiernan Portland

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