Bingaman Rejects Appeasement: Don’t Add Polluter Subsidies To Clean-Energy Legislation

Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), the influential chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, opposes efforts to add coal and nuclear subsidies to win votes for climate legislation. In an interview with Grist, Bingaman disagreed with Sen. Joe Lieberman‘s (I-CT) strategy to make the Senate version of the American Clean Energy and Security Act “more attractive to Republicans and conservative Democrats” by “including greater funding for coal and nuclear energy,” saying that instead climate leaders should put forward “a proposal people are confident will work“:

Frankly I don’t believe that gaining support of conservative Democrats depends upon putting more money into nuclear and coal power…. I think what’s really needed to get conservative Democrats supporting cap and trade legislation is to be able to put forward a proposal that people are confident will work and that people are confident will not impose an undue burden on rate payers or on our overall economy.

Watch it:

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and John Kerry (D-MA) intend to introduce their climate legislation to the Senate on Wednesday. Senators such as John McCain (R-AZ), Russ Feingold (D-WI), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), Mark Udall (D-CO), and Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) have implied they will only support climate legislation that includes increased subsidies for the nuclear, coal, or agribusiness industries. However, as Sen. Bingaman indicates, the only successful strategy to overcoming a Republican filibuster of clean energy reform is to convince the Senate that reform will create jobs, expand the economy and preserve and create prosperity.

Fortunately for advocates of reform, each day brings new evidence that a clean-energy future is just what America needs to rebuild our economy and prevent catastrophe. The UK Meteorological Office has found that global warming is accelerating. Military analysts warn “climate-induced crises could topple governments, feed terrorist movements or destabilize entire regions.” The “Chinese decision to go green,” New York Times columnist Tom Friedman argues, “is the 21st-century equivalent of the Soviet Union’s 1957 launch of Sputnik.” And despite the ideological rantings of polluters who have crippled the global economy, non-partisan analyses repeatedly find that the tremendous benefit of halting global warming by investing in American jobs comes at a pricetag of a postage stamp a day.

The carbon-based free lunch is over,” Exelon CEO John Rowe explained today. “But while we can’t fix our climate problems for free, the price signal sent through a cap-and-trade system will drive low-carbon investments in the most inexpensive and efficient way possible.” Rowe also announced his company was severing ties with the right-wing U.S. Chamber of Commerce because of its opposition to clean-energy investment.

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