A Breath of Not So Fresh Air

So now that the Waxman-Markey bill has passed the House, we can all breath a sigh of relief right?  Unfortunately, no.  Hopes are high as the United States ventures into breaking ground with its first piece of climate legislation. Yet many are also  disappointed with the implications of the bill.

For one thing, the bill still bases its reductions on the 450 ppm (parts per million) carbon level, rather than the more realistic and recommended level of 350 ppm.  Then it goes a step further (maybe lower is a better word here), since, the way it looks now, the bill will help in making a big, no gigantic, reduction of about 4-5% by the year 2020.  The bill says its 17%, but that’s based on the 450 ppm level, which just won’t work.

The other problem is the amount of carbon allowances that will be given directly back to the companies who just paid them.  Polluting entities are set up to get all the way up to 85% back of the fines they will pay for excess emissions.

So how does a climate bill end up rewarding polluters more and setting pretty insignificant numbers for pollution reduction?  Wasn’t the point of this bill to begin punishing polluters who have gone too far and begin helping people who are in need in our country by helping provide new job opportunities and moving to cleaner energy?

This scenario with this bill has gotten so bizarre that my friend has begun calling it the Wackey-Merman bill, which, in his words, is, “like a mythic half/man, half/sea creature: the head has the science that tells us what is necessary yet the lower half of the body is the slimy political part that can’t seem to walk the talk.”

Despite that, green jobs advocates were able to help get $860 million put into the Green Jobs Act, which will help train local people in green skills.  Also, there was a demonstration program provision put in that will help ensure that green jobs nationally are local, good paying jobs.  There are more provisions to help clean up the environment, but these won’t kick in for a few years and the provisions will increase as time passes.  So thankfully we have some good things to highlight in the bill as it moves into the Senate.

The Waxman-Markey bill had the support of all three NM Representatives.  Congressman Teague stayed true to his word of fighting for local workers in his area, while also helping support renewable growth in his district.

Congressman Lujan has been cited by many top sources as a big advocate for worker’s rights in this bill.

So, yes we do have a long way to go, but like many have said, a climate bill in the U.S. is better than no climate bill.  It is a huge step for us, but we have the ability to take a large leap right now instead of just a step.

With the upcoming climate convening in Copenhagen at the end of year, we now need Senators Bingaman and Udall to step up to the plate and help make this a piece of legislation that will not make the rest of the world once again laugh at us.

Many countries scheduled to attend the Copenhagen convening are way ahead of in climate legislation.  As a world leader, the United States needs to step up.  Senators Bingaman and Udall are both in key positions to help not just our state, but our nation, move out of the backseat and into the driver’s seat on climate legislation.

It’s not a huge tax as many opponents claim, nor is it an attack on the rest of the energy producing industries.  These carbon based companies may see it as a threat since they weren’t as smart as the rest of the world to begin using renewable energy years ago, but should we have to pay for their mistake?

I think not.

It’s time for better climate legislation that benefits the American citizen and our environment, more than polluters.


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