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Sierra Club and 28 other NGOs urge House members “to support final passage” of Waxman-Markey: “We believe this is one of the most important votes of our time.” League of Conservation Voters will “not endorse any member of the House … who votes against final passage.”

By Joe Romm

"Sierra Club and 28 other NGOs urge House members “to support final passage” of Waxman-Markey: “We believe this is one of the most important votes of our time.” League of Conservation Voters will “not endorse any member of the House … who votes against final passage.”"

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The League of Conservation Voters has sent an “unprecedented letter” to House members stating (emphasis in original):

In light of the tremendous importance of this legislation, LCV has made the unprecedented decision that we will not endorse any member of the House of Representatives in 2010 election cycle who votes against final passage of this historic bill.

At the same time, 29 nonprofit groups, including the one I work for, have sent a separate letter to House members that opens:

Dear Representative:

On behalf of the millions of members and volunteers that our organizations represent, we write to urge you to support final passage of the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (ACES).

We also urge you to do everything possible to strengthen the bill between now and final
passage, and along its journey to the President’s desk.

These are the groups urging passage of ACES:

  • Alliance for Climate Protection American Rivers
  • Center for American Progress Action Fund
  • Ceres
  • Clean Water Action
  • Climate Solutions
  • Defenders of Wildlife
  • Environment America
  • Environmental Defense Fund
  • Environmental Law & Policy Center
  • Environmental Working Group
  • Fresh Energy
  • Interfaith Power and Light
  • League of Conservation Voters
  • League of Women Voters of the United States
  • National Audubon Society
  • National Parks Conservation Association
  • The National Hispanic Environmental Council
  • National Wildlife Federation
  • Natural Resources Defense Council
  • Oceana
  • Oxfam America
  • Pew Environment Group
  • Sierra Club
  • Southern Alliance for Clean Energy
  • Southern Environmental Law Center
  • The Nature Conservancy
  • The Wilderness Society
  • Union of Concerned Scientists

The letter notes:

We believe this is one of the most important votes of our time. There are rare moments in American history when the urgency to act is clear, the stakes are high, the costs of inaction are untenable, and the need for courageous leadership is paramount. Now is one of those moments. An opportunity like this may not come again for many years.

Hear!  Hear!

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18 Responses to Sierra Club and 28 other NGOs urge House members “to support final passage” of Waxman-Markey: “We believe this is one of the most important votes of our time.” League of Conservation Voters will “not endorse any member of the House … who votes against final passage.”

  1. David B. Benson says:

    An opportunity like this may not come again for many years.

    I fear this is so.

  2. Mark Shapiro says:

    Agreed: ACES should be strengthened, passed, and then signed into law.

    And, having just read Kolbert’s profile of Jim Hansen in the New Yorker, which ends with his vehement opposition to ACES, I’ll agree that it is not nearly enough. But this circle is easy to square. The part of the letter from CAP and the 28 other NGOS that Jim would agree with:

    ” . . . ACES is just the beginning of an effective long-term national strategy on climate change . . .”

    Don’t let the burn-baby-burn crowd misinterpret the cap vs. tax debate.

    Bottom line: Don’t worry, we can’t decarbonize too fast.

  3. Jim Beacon says:

    Indeed, this is one of those “rare moments in American history when the urgency to act is clear, the stakes are high, the costs of inaction are untenable, and the need for courageous leadership is paramount.”

    Too bad Waxman-Markey has been so badly compromised, corrupted and diluted that it is not up to the needs and challenges of that moment.

    But we do need to pass something, even if the bill as it stands today is nothing like the legislation that Waxman and Markey first proposed — and nothing like what the rest of the world is either already doing or has said it will to do if we make the necessary serious commitment ourselves. But Waxman-Markey does not do that, and so the rest of the world will either have to forget about U.S. leadership and leave us behind or else they will embrace our failure as an excuse for their own.

    But Lord knows we do need to do something. And if this is truly “the best we can get” from the world’s greatest nation at this critical moment in history — which I am not convinced of — I guess the vested interests have won and we have no choice but to eat the crust of bread they have left on the plate. But let’s at least be honest about it. Let’s not have any prevaricating about how, from a scientific perspective, the bill is “not optimal.” Not optimal? It flat out will NOT do the job that needs to be done. It doesn’t even come close.

    If, in our politicking to get something, anything passed, we allow our unwarranted hyperbole to convince the general public that this legislation will do the job instead of telling it like it is, how can we face our children? Or ourselves in the mirror? Even as we endorse its passage, we need to speak out in the same breath about how the bill as it stands now will not avert global catastrophe.

    Now, maybe Waxman-Markey will “get fixed in post” when it gets to the Senate. Or maybe it will be diluted even further, as that seems to have been the result of all so-called negotiations so far. Maybe Barack Obama will snap out of his deer-in-the-headlights trance and bring the real power of the Presidency to bear in a way he has shied away from doing so far. But somebody sure needs to do something to fix this junker.

  4. ecostew says:

    And, one must keep the junker on the road!

  5. Rick Covert says:

    Bill,

    This Waxman-Markey bill is a real stinker but it’s the best we’ve got right now. But this is a multi-front struggle and W-M alone won’t do it. It’s going to take cities, states, grass roots movements and general ruckus making to turn this tide.

    It will take a forceful struggle to make the necessary changes. Then there’s this blogpost by Mitchel Anderson over at desmogblog. http://desmogblog.com/republicans-cribbing-big-coal I suppose it doesn’t help that the Republican opposition hoping to sabotage W-M embarrasses itself by using a PowerPoint presentation with the authors in the PowerPoint presentation like Peabody Energy CEO Greg Boyd and Peabody communications service manager Chris Taylor. Oooops!

  6. Rick Covert says:

    Jim,

    Sorry I meant to address this to you.

  7. john says:

    Picking a position on this Bill has been the most difficult political decision I’ve ever made. And I’m a geezer.

    The Bill is not strong enough by a country mile, it gives away too much, and it is far too long. At over 1000 pages, the length is not a function of the complexity of the issue — compare with Title IV if the CAA amendments of 1990, for example, or with Van Hollen’s 3 very brief bills which accomplish as much or more than this one in less than 100 pages — rather it is a function of trade-offs and special interests influencing the outcome. I can’t help but wonder what would have been achievable had we done less preemptive capitualization and taken issues to the American people.

    I remember Joe saying that a better bill was possible in 2010 — after Obama used his skills to sell it, and after battles had been waged in the court of public opinion. He was right.

    I also remember this column and Realclimate saying we needed something like 20% below 1990 levels by 2020 if we were to avoid the risk of triggering catastrophic climate change.

    Sadly, we will not get another bite of this apple any time soon.

    I fear we will not amend this until after we learn — from horrific climatic events — that this Bill was woefully inadequate. And by then it will be too late.

    And yet, having no Bill is untenable.

    I reluctantly support this thing, but I believe we need to be very specific about what needs to be strengthened. Bottom line: A more ambitious 2020 cap; fewer offsets ( adopt RGGI’s offset language); preserving the right to use the clean air act to regulate CO2; no pork for oil and coal.

    I’d also like to see a more aggressive push to use FERC authorities to allow — no, to require — the use of all cost-effective demand side capacity as a prerequisite for accessing the wholesale grid. Expanding FERC Order 719 could form the basis of this requirement.

    Allowing ARCs and other non-utility players to participate in short-term dispatch and long term capacity decisions — in conjunction with OB municipal financing for efficiency, in conjunction with a truly aggressive MPG fuel standard (not CAFE) would be the two most powerful things we could do to cost-effectively cut GHG emissions, and that includes the cap as currently configured.

    So let’s make our support is conditional upon this behemoth actually being capable of addressing climate change — let’s not support a Bill for the sake of having a Bill. And that means admitting and naming it’s weaknesses and fighting to strengthen them.

  8. Rabid Doomsayer says:

    Yes the bill should be passed, but you all know it is far to little and it is close to too late.

  9. Jeff Huggins says:

    New York Times . . .

    Hey, is The New York Times going to list the many organizations that support this bill, and (so we can all see who is hampering it) the organizations, if any, that are working against it?

    Such a list should be a basic and big story. TELL THE PEOPLE who is supporting this bill, and who isn’t.

    Do it prominently, New York Times.

    Why do I have a feeling that they aren’t going to do this, or if they do, it’ll be after-the-fact and on page 98?

    Am I from Mars, or something? Do I have a totally misplaced understanding of what’s important these days? Can it be that a singer from the U.K. (as wonderful as she is) is more important than the list of key organizations that support this bill, and the bill itself?

    C’mon, New York Times.

    Jeff Huggins

  10. James Newberry says:

    Based on my reading of the scientific literature to date, I’ll take a guess that threshold positive feedbacks, bringing concentrations automatically above 600 ppm equivalent, will come into effect with global combustion of 100 billion more tons of carbon (releasing 366 billion tons carbon dioxide). Last year’s figure was about 9 billion tons carbon (33 billion CO2).

    It’s now or never and perhaps too late. We need a global epiphany. We seem to be faced with insurmountable opportunities and the usual political corruption and selfishness.

  11. James Thompson says:

    Barack Obama said that the “world is watching” Iran’s actions.

    Well… the world is watching US (in)action on climate change. We are not impressed (although like Obama there isn’t a fat lot we can do about it).

  12. Adam Sacks says:

    A bad bill is decidedly *not* better than no bill – it leaves us with the illusion of action and sedates us into compacency. These non-profit organizations – most of which are intractably invested in preserving “the American way of life” (with perhaps a few hybrid-like tweaks) – would be far more effective if they spoke up with one voice and said “This is a terrible bill and we will not support it,” and then explained why.

  13. James Thompson says:

    Adam
    I agree. As soon as W-M is passed the message goes out that the job is done. Everyone can forget about AGW and get on with something more interesting. Which would be just fine, except that W-M isn’t going to make any significant difference to CO2 emissions, either in the US or globally.

    If W-M is voted down then at least the issue is still live.

    [JR: Exactly backwards. If the bill goes down, every pol in DC realizes the issue is a loser. It dies for a long time. If the bill passes, then you can expect more and more action -- half the state renewable standards have been strengthened!]

  14. Brooks Bridges says:

    Adam and James: There are numerous cliches applicable to this bill: “getting the ball rolling”, “the snowball effect”, “getting some momentum”, “each journey…”.

    Cliches exist for a reason.

    It will redefine the “norm” for many people so bigger changes won’t look so “big” next time.

  15. James Thompson says:

    Joe, I understand what you are saying but I don’t agree. The point you are ignoring is the international pressure the US will come under if it chucks out W-M.

    If the US turns up at Copenhagen empty-handed the world will label the US as a pariah state on climate. That might just bring the issue to a head and trigger some real action.

    If the US turns uo at Copenhagen with W-M enacted, will take the US right out of the spotlight. Bad news.

  16. Jens from Germany says:

    James,

    if the US comes to Copenhagen empty-handed, so will China, India, Russia, Japan and many others who will do little to nothing in the absence of American leadership. Even in Europe, more ambitious governments would come under enormous pressure to scale back their climate targets. The European Union would probably be forced to withdraw it’s conditioned offer of a 30% emissions reduction by 2020. If Waxman-Markey fails, so will Copenhagen. Climate sceptics around the world will rejoice and environmentalists will be disspirited. I really can’t see any good coming from that.

  17. Annie says:

    We should allow the EPA to use science to regulate CO2 and other greenhouse gases. The Waxman Markey is mostly a industry and carbon trading bill. The Copenhagen argument to support the passage of Waxman Markey is similar to bombing Iraq because of 911.

  18. MarkB says:

    “Joe, I understand what you are saying but I don’t agree. The point you are ignoring is the international pressure the US will come under if it chucks out W-M.

    If the US turns up at Copenhagen empty-handed the world will label the US as a pariah state on climate. That might just bring the issue to a head and trigger some real action.”

    There’s already been intense pressure for the U.S. to step up to the plate. Further pressure won’t do anything. If the U.S. doesn’t step up, no one else will.