|Congressional Climate Bills|
Stealth Schemes to Raise Energy Prices and Enrich Wall Street
On June 26, 2009, HR 2454: American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (ACESA) passed, purportedly "To create clean energy jobs, achieve energy independence, reduce global warming pollution and transition to a clean energy economy."
In fact, it lets energy polluters raise prices for huge windfall profits and gives Wall Street a bonanza through carbon trading derivatives speculation. Catherine Austin Fitts' Solari.com blog explained it last July in her article titled, "The Next Really Scary Bubble" is coming, saying:
"If you think the housing and credit bubble diminished your financial security and your community, or the bailouts, or the rising gas prices did as well, hold on to your hat" for what's ahead. "Carbon trading is gearing up to make the housing and derivative bubbles look like target practice," or in other words, be the mother of all scams, courtesy of administration, House and Senate collaboration with Wall Street and the energy giants.
Now the Senate version - a clean energy bill? Not according to the Center for Biological Diversity (biologicaldiversity.org) calling it:
"a disaster for our climate and planet. (The Kerry-Lieberman) proposal moves us one baby step forward and at least three giant steps back in any rational effort to address the climate crisis. (Their bill) would entrench our addiction to fossil fuels by offering incentives for increased oil and gas drilling just days after what appears to be the worst offshore oil disaster in American history."
Their proposal includes "no safeguards....to make offshore oil safe. (It) echoes greenhouse pollution reduction targets that scientists recently called 'paltry' and inadequate to prevent the worst impacts of climate change....The Kerry-Lieberman (bill) is not the answer because it asks the wrong questions."
New climate legislation must:
- reduce "atmospheric carbon dioxide to 350 parts per million....;"
- supplement "existing environmental laws - especially the Clean Air Act - instead of gutting these successful and proven environmental protections;"
- be "free of loopholes allowing polluters to delay or avoid reducing their greenhouse gas emissions;" and
- avoid "habitat destruction and increased greenhouse gas emissions through perverse subsidies."
House of Senate bills fail "these tests." They're "a disaster for our climate and planet." The House bill lets polluters "escape real emissions reductions." The Senate bill:
- bans Clean Air Act provisions and "existing state and local efforts to tackle climate change;"
- facilitates, subsidizes, and accelerates oil and gas drilling, including offshore;
- "subsidize(s) dangerous and costly nuclear energy; and
- incentivize(s) the destruction of forests for biomass energy production;" this provision, however, appears stalled.
Last June, Public Citizen called the House bill:
"a new legal right to pollute (that) gives away 85 percent of (its) credits to polluters. (It) will not solve our climate crisis but will enrich already powerful oil, coal and nuclear power companies" at the expense of consumers stuck with higher than ever bills to enrich them.
This writer's July 8 article titled, Obama's Cap and Trade Carbon Emissions Bill: A Stealth Scheme to License Pollution and Fraud explained it - www.sjlendman.blogspot.com/2009/07/obamas-cap-and-trade-carbon-emissions.html.
Hyperbolic Democrats praised it, Speaker Pelosi calling it "transformational legislation which takes us into the future" after taking congratulatory calls from Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Al Gore.
The former vice president has long-standing ties to Goldman Sachs (GS), and in 2004, he and David Blood, GS's former asset management division CEO, co-founded Generation Investment Management LLC, a firm likely to profit hugely from cap and trade schemes if enacted.
So will energy giants like Royal Dutch Shell (top-ranked in 2009 on Fortune's Global 500) and Duke Energy that helped write the bill, that according to Friends of the Earth President Brent Blackwelder "fails to come anywhere close to solving the climate crisis. Worse, (it) eliminates preexisting EPA authority to address global warming - that means it's actually a step backward."
Greepeace agreed saying it "sets emission reduction targets far lower than science demands, then undermines even those targets with massive offsets. The giveaways and preferences in the bill will actually spur a new generation of nuclear and coal-fired power plants to the detriment of real energy solutions."
Energy companies praised it, and why not. Big Coal got a waiver until 2025. Agribusiness was exempted altogether even though it contributes up to one-fourth of greenhouse gas emissions. The free allowances provision benefits the nuclear industry hugely. The nation's largest nuclear power company, Exelon, said it would reap a $1 - 1.5 billion annual windfall from subsidies and higher prices.
ACESA is a scam. It's about profits, not environmental remediation. Its emissions reduction targets are so weak, they effectively license polluters by giving them a new profit center to exploit. As for Wall Street, it offers greater than ever derivatives trading profits - a new multi-trillion dollar market to be "securitized, derivatized, and speculated," according to Clinton's former Commerce undersecretary, Robert Shapiro. If cap and trade becomes law, the market will explode in his judgment.
Others agree, seeing a speculative bonanza, why FIRE sector (finance, insurance and real estate) lobbyists spent a record $465 million in 2009 according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Energy and natural resources companies also, spending $409 million to assure a plum this sweet becomes law.
The American Power Act (APC) - Unveiled on May 16 and now available in Pdf form at: http://kerry.senate.gov/americanpoweract/intro.cfm.
It's as hyperbolic as the House version saying:
It "will transform our economy, set us on the path toward energy independence and improve the quality of the air we breathe. It will create millions of good jobs that cannot be shipped abroad and it will launch America into a position of leadership in the global clean energy economy."
It claims not to be about enriching Wall Street, but to reduce carbon pollution by "17 percent in 2020 and by over 80 percent in 2050," so far ahead that who'll remember unmet targets.
- "Consumers will come out on top.
- We need energy made in America.
- America needs to regain its competitive edge....
- We need a new approach to reducing emissions (and)
- The system must be simple, stable and secure."
Friends of the Earth President Erich Pica debunked it, saying:
"Without dramatic improvements, this bill should not be passed, and senators should consider alternatives. In the meantime, existing tools like the Clean Air Act must be put to work. More broadly, we must end a system in which polluter lobbyists exercise effective veto power in Congress. Our economy, global security and the health of the public are all at stake."
According to Public Citizen's Tyson Slocum in his May 13 analysis, APC fails across the board saying the "Climate Bill Is a Misnomer: It's a Nuclear Energy-Promoting, Oil-Drilling-Championing, Coal Mining-Boosting Gift to Polluters....with a weak carbon-pricing mechanism thrown in."
Worse still, it guts the EPA's authority to regulate greenhouse gases as pollutants under the Clean Air Act. It provides nuclear power incentives at taxpayers expense. Under sections 1101 and 1105, citizens won't have public hearings on nuclear power risks, especially ones in their communities. Section 1102 "increases loan guarantees primarily for nuclear power to a jaw-dropping $54 billion." Considering the industry's high default risk, consumers will be stuck with the bill the way they've paid trillions for Wall Street bailouts.
In section 1103, 12 proposed nuclear plants will get $6 billion in taxpayer-subsidized risk insurance. Section 1121 lets nuclear power operators accelerate depreciation. Section 1121 "provides a 10 percent investment tax credit for new reactors." Under section 1123, the industry gets Advanced Energy Project credits, and it "derives certain tax, bond and grant benefits from investing in nuclear power" from sections 1124, 5 and 6.
More than ever, Big Oil gets to "Drill Baby, Drill" (that assures "Spill Baby, Spill"), including more of it offshore, despite the spreading Gulf disaster, and there's more. Under section 1202, states may keep 37.5 of oil and gas royalties. "That's like saying because more rich people live in California and New York compared to Mississippi and New Mexico, (they) should be able to keep more federal dollars raised from income taxes. Royalty revenue sharing is patently unfair," especially since offshore spills respect no state shorelines or inland areas if they spread.
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|Allen L. Jasson|