The best piece of legislation proposed in 2009 was the Cantwell-Collins CLEAR Act. It has gotten zero attention from the blog chamber newsgames. But it has the potential to make the carbon market concept work.
It forces carbon producers or importers to buy permits (within a price range), which sets the price on carbon and brings this so-called externality into the market.
It then rebates the proceeds directly on a per-capita basis to Americans. Presto, no downside to households. If they want to burn it, they have the money to pay for it. But if they want to avoid the tax by not burning it, they make a profit.
No funky offsets. No casino cap-and-trade schemes for Wall Street to screw up.
Big Oil and Big Coal are forced to toe-tag themselves.
Cantwell's web site is impressive, with many, many endorsements from all over the place.
We offer some of the statements in support of CLEAR, Senate Bill 2877. This is by far the best piece of legislation we have seen in quest of a sane climate strategy. There will be pushback. And from the results of the health care debate, one cannot hope for more than mediocrity in a body so well controlled by corporate interests. But this is what we could have as law were our nation a democracy, and not a corporate oligarchy or kleptocracy.
On behalf of AARP and its 40 million members, we thank Senators Cantwell and Collins for their continued leadership on environmental and consumer issues and commend you for introducing the CLEAR Act. AARP believes that reducing harmful carbon dioxide is an important national goal, but it should not be achieved by imposing significant new burdens on American households. The CLEAR Act offers a simple, straightforward approach for reducing carbon emissions in a manner that will mitigate energy cost increases and minimize administrative costs for consumers."
-- David P. Sloane, Senior Vice President, Government Relations and Advocacy, AARP
"I am encouraged by Sen. Cantwell's bipartisan effort to advance a more sensible approach to greenhouse gas emission reductions. A great deal of work remains to find consensus on legislation, and ensure that both the economy and the environment are protected, but this bill is intellectually honest and moves the debate in the right direction. We need to keep all of our climate policy options on the table, and the CLEAR Act should certainly be one of the approaches we spend time considering in the coming months."
-- U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski
"An attractive feature of this bill is that it does not directly constrain manufacturing output like the economy-wide cap and trade legislation H.R. 2454 and S. 1733. If the resulting energy and compliance costs are not too high under this legislation, manufacturing may be able to grow its output and increase exports. US manufacturing needs to be able to grow its output to supply its markets or China, India and Brazil will."
-- Paul N. Cicio, President, Industrial Energy Consumers of America
"On behalf of our five million members, MoveOn.org applauds Senators Maria Cantwell and Susan Collins' leadership for clean energy jobs. We can rebuild our struggling economy by making America the world's leader in 21st Century clean energy technologies like wind and solar. We're especially pleased that the CLEAR bill does not pull the plug on President Obama's efforts to enforce Clean Air Act limits on global warming pollution from coal plants."
-- Justin Ruben, Executive Director, MoveOn.org
"Friends of the Earth thanks Senators Cantwell and Collins for bringing a much needed alternative approach to the debate over climate and energy solutions in Congress. The framework that Senators Cantwell and Collins have crafted would minimize opportunities for Wall Street traders to gamble on our climate future. This is a key improvement over the flawed and risky cap-and-trade system that polluters and big banks successfully lobbied for in the House bill passed in June."
-- Erich Pica, Friends of the Earth President
"Not only is Senator Cantwell's bill admirably brief, it avoids some of the pitfalls that critics of cap-and-trade legislation have enumerated at length, such as windfall profits for emitters and special interest groups, the potential for fraudulent foreign offsets, and the creation of new, poorly understood financial instruments."
-- Dr. Kenneth P. Green, Resident Scholar, American Enterprise Institute
"This is exactly the direction we need to be going in. Our atmosphere belongs to all of us, just like a national park. Any would-be polluter should pay for despoiling it. We need a 100 percent auction. And the proceeds should be returned to Americans as "dividends" in our commons, and as public investments in our future."
--Robert Reich, University of California, Berkeley (former U.S. Secretary of Labor)
"We applaud Senator Cantwell's work on climate change and to express our support for the CLEAR Act. The combination of auctions, revenue recycling, investments in green jobs, and the lack of international offsets in the CLEAR Act are all highly commendable. SACE supports these aspects of the CLEAR Act and looks forward to working with you to see these proposals adopted by Congress in the near future."
-- Stephen A. Smith, Executive Director, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy
"We applaud Senators Cantwell and Collins for their legislation. The Cantwell-Collins bill contains significant protection for consumers and an effective and efficient design for achieving emissions reductions. They have included provisions for real cost containment by including a price collar and established provisions to return auction revenues directly to consumers. Their legislation can be the basis for a broad-based, bipartisan effort to find a solution for cap-and-trade legislation that can garner the necessary support in the Senate and ultimately in a conference with the House."
--Rafe Pomerance, senior fellow and former president of Clean Air-Cool Planet and former chairman of the League of Conservation
"We feel that Congress should explore other solutions that avoid picking "winners and losers" and that treat all consumers and businesses equitably. It is for this reason that we are looking at Senators Cantwell and Collins' climate legislation with great interest. Congress should not put Wall Street in charge of American climate and energy policy."
-- Jim Collura, Vice President for Gov't Affairs, The New England Fuel Institute
"The CLEAR Act is the best way to reduce carbon emissions. It's simple, honest and effective. There are no giveaways or shell games. And middle class families are protected no matter how high carbon prices rise."
-- Peter Barnes, Tomales Bay Institute
"The cap-and-dividend approach ensures that hardworking American families benefit from our transition to secure and clean energy. It would help wean us off of fossil fuels, spur a wave of investment and job creation, and put cash in the pockets of the Americans that need it the most."
-- Michael A. Livermore, Executive Director, Institute for Policy Integrity, New York University School of Law