US Climate Policy: Advantages of "Cap & Dividend" Cantwell-Collins bill

Evidence continues to emerge — see below -- that the Cantwell-Collins CLEAR bill (called “cap-and-dividend” because it would return 75% of the income from sale of carbon credits to the American public in yearly “dividends” of about $1,000 each, rather than encouraging dangerous profits for Wall Street through the sale of carbon derivatives) has some important economic as well as ethical advantages over the prospective Kerry-Graham-Lieberman bill expected to be introduced in the Senate on April 26.

It is also true that in one area, committed support for poor nations in dealing with the onset of climate crisis, the Cantwell-Collins CLEAR bill may be somewhat weaker than the KGL bill, which is pretty weak itself. But critical support of the CLEAR bill at least as likely to address that shortcoming as is support for the KGL bill.

Pressure from some major energy lobbies (Big Oil, Big Coal, Big Nukes) on the Senate leadership and on the Obama Adminstration may make the KGL bill into the main official vehicle for Senate action, as some predict. Yet drafters of the KGL bill seem to have already responded to grass-roots support for the CLEAR Bill by incorporating some aspects of the CLEAR bill into KGL. IF KGL does indeed become the main vehicle, the process of moving toward the CLEAR approach will be strengthened by strong support amongst us for the CLEAR bill approach.

So I think it is important for all segments of the Jewish community to be aware of the upsides and downsides of both bills. The Shalom Center will do its best to keep this information flowing, and we hope that such organizations as COEJL, JCPA, and the RAC will do the same.
CLIMATE: Study finds economic opportunities in Cantwell-Collins bill (04/12/2010)
Darren Samuelsohn, E&E senior reporter

Climate legislation from Sens. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) would give industry a consistent, predictable price signal for releasing greenhouse gases while also creating new demand for construction jobs, according to a study
by the Institute for Policy Integrity at New York University School of Law.

The institute's analysis of the Cantwell-Collins measure, known as the "CLEAR Act," finds that a relatively modest price on carbon would drive investments in a range of emission reduction strategies, including reforestation and environmentally friendly farming techniques, retrofitting residential buildings and more spending on renewable energy.

More so than in other areas, the report predicted an increase in construction jobs as demand increases for new public transportation infrastructure, as well as solar cells, wind turbines and revamped heating, ventilation and air conditioning services.

"These jobs will offer relatively high wages in industries that are experiencing overcapacity and unemployment," said Michael Livermore, the institute's executive director. "The economic incentives in the CLEAR Act will begin to mop up some of the slack in the market. Presently unemployed construction workers will find more opportunities as green investment kicks in."

Cantwell and Collins introduced the CLEAR Act (S. 2877 ) last December. It would forgo the widespread trading of carbon allowances and instead require energy producers to bid in monthly auctions for carbon shares. It also would direct 75 percent of the resulting auction revenue as a refund to help compensate the public for increased energy costs, with the remaining 25 percent going toward clean energy technology research and development.

Pieces of the Cantwell-Collins legislation are expected to be included in a separate Senate climate bill to be unveiled next week by Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.). But Cantwell and Collins have been critical of the Kerry-led effort, saying their legislation should be the primary vehicle for any Senate debate (E&ENews PM , March 24).

Other findings in the NYU institute's report state the Cantwell-Collins bill would generate enough benefits -- less sea-level rise, higher agricultural yields, less money spent on adaptation -- that they would outweigh the legislation's costs to business. And the analysis said the legislation would not create regional disparities because the "cap and dividend" approach means more money going into the pockets of the poorest Americans.

CLEAR Act supporters include the powerhouse lobbyist for seniors, AARP; the Friends Committee on National Legislation, a highly respected Quaker-rooted lobby; the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns; and a number of small environmental and community groups.

Click here for the study by the Institute for Policy Integrity.

Click here for a list of CLEAR Act supporters.