Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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June 15, 2010

AMERICAN POWER ACT STARTS TO LOOK EVEN BETTER.... If empiricism, evidence, and reason had a prominent role in the debate over climate/energy policy, the debate wouldn't last particularly long. It'd be painfully obvious that the status quo is unsustainable; global warming is a genuine crisis; and proposals like the American Power Act are a modest, reasonable step in the right direction.

Alas, empiricism, evidence, and reason aren't as relevant as I'd like, and comprehensive legislation is struggling badly.

That said, for those who take substance seriously, the latest news is encouraging.

A new EPA analysis of Senate climate change legislation estimates the plan would impose an average annual household cost of $79 to $146 [a year] over 40 years.

The finding could provide a political lift for the bill authored by Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), allowing them to counter GOP allegations that greenhouse gas limits would impose major costs on taxpayers.

The two senators, who circulated the analysis Tuesday, quickly sought to capitalize on the estimate and other findings as they seek a spot for the bill in the Senate energy debate expected to unfold this summer.

"This definitive analysis proves that the American Power Act (APA) will decrease energy bills for families and protect consumers while offering the most effective cost containment measures of any previous climate legislation," they said in a prepared statement.

Some consumers would see modest cost increases -- we're talking about literally $7 a month -- but the legislation includes mechanisms to help consumers offset those costs. As Dave Roberts explained, "Cost is simply not a credible reason to oppose a carbon cap."

And at the same time the American Power Act would overhaul a broken energy framework, combat global warming, make America more competitive globally, lower the budget deficit, and according to a ClimateWorks Foundation analysis also published today, create hundreds of thousands of jobs over the next generation.

Given all of this, plus public opinion, plus the effects of the worst environmental catastrophe in American history, it's painfully frustrating to realize this might die in the Senate.

For what it's worth, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) said today, "Are we there? No. We don't have the 60 votes yet. I know that. But we're close, enough to be able to fight for it, and we'll see where we wind up."

Steve Benen 4:35 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (7)

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Do not forget the Democrats who oppose any bill which would harm their states carbon producing industries.

Posted by: Terry on June 15, 2010 at 4:54 PM | PERMALINK

Why do so many senators hate America so much?

Posted by: Goldilocks on June 15, 2010 at 5:26 PM | PERMALINK

In the link above ("explained"), Dave Roberts also makes this important statement about the analysis:

"EPA's analysis only measures costs; it does not measure benefits. Specifically, it does not include the benefits of avoiding climate change. If you think that's absurd, well, you're right. As Michael Livermore wrote last week, the 'all costs no benefits' method of analysis utterly distorts lawmakers' perspectives. Obviously if the costs of unrestrained climate change were included, the bill would look like a screaming bargain."

Posted by: meander on June 15, 2010 at 5:33 PM | PERMALINK

Beware, Steve: The latest G.O.P. talking point on the Gulf Coast -- which, natch'-- the media uncritically repeats, is to demand that Obama suspend the Jones Act, an old maritime law requiring that ships in U.S. waters traveling between U.S. ports fly the U.S. flag.

Most of the Republicans huffing about this wouldn't know the Jones Act if they tripped over it. But the G.O.P. is trying to cobble together a narrative that will claim Obama's 'refusal' or 'failure' to waive the Jones Act explains why there aren't enough skimmer boats in the Gulf, which explains how he "failed, which explains why there are all these dead fish and birds lying around and why Louisiana now looks and smells worse than a hillbilly outhouse.

Hell, there aren't enough skimmer boats on planet Earth to handle the BP oil spill, Jones Act or no.

The media covering the Gulf coast, of course, don't know the Jones Act from Roy Jones, Jr.
So, natch', they're uncritically repeating the new G.O.P. meme like the good little stenographers they are.

There is much more to the Jones Act, including important protections for ship building laborers and the ease (so I understand) of issuing waivers in emergencies on a vessel-by-vessel basis.

But you can see where this is going.... Think death panels.

I suggest you put the arm on a maritime lawyer friend, if you know one, and have him/her write a piece for you on this before this, too, spins out of control.

Posted by: jOHN b. on June 15, 2010 at 5:54 PM | PERMALINK

If I were making the argument, I would make the point that those modest costs to consumers are more than offset by savings in the defense budget when we no longer have to spend money overseas in the middle east to "defend our interests" in that region.

Posted by: fourlegsgood on June 15, 2010 at 6:10 PM | PERMALINK

Maritime law? I suggest our host contact that guy who's brother was killed on the rig - he's a maritime lawyer and I'm sure he'd be happy to talk about the issue.

Posted by: fourlegsgood on June 15, 2010 at 6:13 PM | PERMALINK

there is no way shape or form that sustainable energy is more expense than the current fossil fuel based dirty unsustainable energy. Sustainable energy has no - none - zero extraction costs, shipment costs, conversion costs, high maintenance costs (low maintenance costs, yes), or waste management costs. There is just no possible way wind, solar, thermal, or wave energy cost as much as extracting coal, oil, or gas, shipping it, converting it to usable fuel, storing the waste products, and maintaining the machine the convert its energy to usable forms; and that is without even counting the devastating health and environmental destruction costs. There is no possible way the free energy of wind, the sun, Earth's thermal energy, or wave energy, nor the far simpler conversion machinery are not far, far cheaper.

Posted by: pluege on June 15, 2010 at 11:34 PM | PERMALINK
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