Lieberman-Warner Bill: Dirty energy in the name of climate protection

By Matt Ran
(This is a guest essay from our ally Cascadia Brian with Rising Tide North America)

On the surface, broad-based solutions to global warming appear to be emerging in Congress. But with even a meager scrubbing of the surface, Senators Lieberman and Warner’s “Climate Security Act” (S. 2191) – which is scheduled to be debated on the Senate floor in June – turns out to be perhaps the greatest greenwash of our generation.

Everyone who cares about the climate and a just energy future would do well to take a cold, hard look at the Lieberman-Warner (L-W) bill. It will frame the climate debate in the US for our generation.

If we don’t stop L-W in it’s tracks and go back to the drawing board for real solutions, we risk our bold local efforts for climate protection being trumped and even overturned by deeply misguided and corrupt federal policies. Sadly, most of the national environmental groups are taking a pass on L-W, not publicly taking a strong stand against the bill despite misgivings. At the moment only Friends of the Earth and the Nuclear Information and Resource Service are taking strong stands against the bill. [some weak-willed environmental groups are even supporting this insane bill!]

The youth climate movement cannot afford to remain neutral and silent on this rapidly moving train. The time for demanding “action” on climate is over, we must define and demand “real action” and speak out against these deadly dangerous distractions.

A few highlights from the bill:

  • Besides the inherent problems of carbon trading, the bill gives tradeable carbon permits valued at one trillion dollars to the fossil fuel industry for free.
  • The revenue from portion of carbon permits that are auction is directed straight back to back to polluters through hundreds of billions of dollars of subsidies to the coal, oil and automobile industries, and nuclear power.
  • According to an aide to Senator Lieberman, the bill “would be the most historic incentive for nuclear in the history of the US“. It is estimated that throughout various incentives in the bill $500 billion could go to nuclear power.
  • Carbon permits are given first – before all other auctions – to NEW coal facilities, giving incentive to new coal construction before other forms of energy.
  • The bills targets are well below what the UN recommends, especially the short term goals: virtually no national reductions in emissions would occur before 2020.

Friends of the Earth provided one of the first analyses of the bill and kept examining the legislation as it changed. Read the updated analysis of the bill.

Here’s a chart showing who benefits from the bill:

Worse, a number of Nuclear amendments have been discussed on Capitol Hill may include some, or even all, of the following:

  • more money for taxpayer loan guarantees for new reactors
  • more money for “risk” insurance if reactors are delayed because of interventions or other licensing problems
  • establishment of “interim” storage sites for high-level radioactive waste
  • speed-up of Yucca Mountain licensing
  • further restrictions on public participation in reactor licensing
  • money for training nuclear engineers
  • money for training skilled workers (like welders)
  • money for security guards and improvements
  • money for Hardened On-Site Storage
  • money to build new factories to manufacture large reactor components
  • money for new transmission lines
  • money for transformers

Take a stand – contact Friends of the Earth or the Nuclear Information and Resource Service for more information.