Kerry on Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act: “For too long, Washington let Big Oil and special interests stand between us and our goals. This has hurt our economy, helped our enemies and risked our security. But the time has come to put America back in control.”

The Senate climate bill has a name:  The Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act.

Okay, it’s not a clever acronym, like the House’s American Clean Energy and Security act or ACES.  The key point is jobs and American power.

Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) is chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee and the lead sponsor of The Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act.  He lays out the case for the bill in Politico, “A new path for energy use.”

[I am told the word “energy” is in the bill title (and that the Politico piece has it wrong).  Senate Environment and Public Works committee has Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act.]

You’ll notice Kerry never uses the term “cap and trade,” which is arguably the lamest phrase ever developed by progressives since, oh, I don’t know, maybe “public option.”  The bill is a pollution reduction and investment bill.

Kerry seems seems to me to have the basic messages right, so his piece is a must-read for progressives who want to know the pitch:

For decades, politicians have talked about the importance of ending America’s addiction to oil and investing in energy that is made in America and that works for America “” from coal and nuclear to solar and wind.

But with the Clean Jobs and American Power Act, which we are introducing Wednesday, we at last have an opportunity to put our country on that path “” a path more critical because of the urgent threat of global climate change.

The Clean Jobs and American Power Act is aimed at no less than the reinvention of the way America produces and uses energy. It will be a challenge, but America has never shied away from a challenge before.

Reinventing the way we use energy can also be the cornerstone for decades of economic growth and a stronger, more powerful America. Today, 15 million Americans are out of work. We send $1 billion per day overseas to feed our oil addiction. Scientists and generals warn that climate change caused by carbon pollution threatens our health and our national security. Each of these factors weakens America.

Rarely have we faced so many challenges, but rarely have so many challenges also culminated in such an enormous opportunity “” an opportunity to put millions of Americans back to work, to invest in homegrown innovation and to protect our children’s health and our environment.

The Clean Jobs and American Power Act takes a comprehensive approach to meeting our energy challenge head on.

It sets ambitious carbon pollution reduction targets, creates powerful new incentives for companies to find the most cost-efficient ways to meet them and makes historic new investments in technology and efficiency that will improve every sector of our energy economy. And it does not raise the deficit by one single dime.

Based on the successful bipartisan plan that reduced acid rain, a market-based pollution reduction and investment system will set ambitious yearly targets. It will reduce carbon pollution 20 percent by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050, a decrease that scientists consider the minimum necessary to avert a climate disaster.

This system is tough on corporate pollution, taking aim at America’s largest polluters: those emitting 25,000 tons of carbon each year. The 7,500 facilities covered in 2012 “” mostly power plants, industrial facilities and petroleum and petrochemical operations “” account for nearly three-quarters of America’s carbon emissions. Farmers and nearly all small business are exempt. More than 98 percent of all American businesses fall below the threshold.

The bill is designed to offer big polluters options: Those that need more time to clean up their emissions can pay for the continued right to pollute. Those companies that decrease pollution quickly and affordably stand to profit.

This bill creates powerful new market incentives for developing clean energy and improving energy efficiency. Americans invented the technologies behind wind and solar energy, but countries like China and Germany have surged ahead of us. This bill provides new funding for research and deployment to make us the world leaders once again.

Every dollar spent on clean energy creates nearly four times as many jobs as a dollar invested in oil and gas. These are good-paying, regionally diverse jobs for American workers of all educational backgrounds “” and best of all, they can’t be shipped overseas.

As we transition to this new energy future, we need game-changing investments and improvements throughout our entire energy system. We can’t afford to ignore any homegrown energy resources. Because coal will remain an important part of America’s economy, we must help the coal industry reinvent itself “” that includes rewards for installing new technology to capture and store carbon pollution before it reaches the air we breathe.

Natural gas will receive similar incentives to increase cost-effectiveness and galvanize technological advances. We will also make the investment in research, development and worker training needed to build the next generation of American nuclear power plants.

Of course, the cleanest and cheapest kilowatt of energy is the one you never use. More than 1,000 U.S. cities have adopted tough environmental standards for new construction and for refitting existing buildings. We respond to the urgent requests of our governors and mayors by funding these efforts.

As our energy economy races ahead, no one should be left behind.

This bill protects everyday consumers. Rebates on monthly electric bills will ensure that energy remains affordable for low- and middle-income families. And a new market-based mechanism will kick in as needed to keep prices stable.

This bill also includes targeted protection for our manufacturing sector, to ensure that American companies remain competitive and keep jobs here at home. New programs will train workers to succeed in the new clean energy economy.

We can do all those things, and more, to make America safer and stronger. But only if we reinvent the way America uses energy.

It won’t be easy. For too long, Washington let Big Oil and special interests stand between us and our goals. This has hurt our economy, helped our enemies and risked our security. But the time has come to put America back in control, and the Clean Jobs and American Power Act at last turns rhetoric into reality and puts us on that path.

9 Responses to Kerry on Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act: “For too long, Washington let Big Oil and special interests stand between us and our goals. This has hurt our economy, helped our enemies and risked our security. But the time has come to put America back in control.”

  1. dhogaza says:

    This is great news, I hope they have more success with this than with the health care reform bill.

  2. Jeff Huggins says:

    Bravo, Sort Of, Except

    Overall, I applaud this effort and the comments above. I’m not familiar with the details of the bill, but his comments sound like they cover key aims. And, the intent is in the right place. So, overall, Bravo!

    But (as usual), a few comments . . .

    First, although it’s very important and helpful to point out the importance of all of the factors mentioned above (Jobs, security, etc.), nevertheless, I think we ALSO must continue to emphasize the heart of the matter: the climate problem and the moral — yes moral — imperative to address it.

    We shouldn’t shy away from that central problem as being a central part of why we need to do what we need to do. Let’s be honest — human-ly, humanely, morally, scientifically, and so forth. Even if the economy was healthy right now; even if the number of dirty-energy jobs and clean-energy jobs would be a was; even if we weren’t sending billions of dollars overseas; and even if Oil didn’t threaten our security; we’d STILL have to face facts and shift from hydrocarbon-based fuel sources to clean energy sources. The very real need to protect the climate for future generations remains, and it’s not just a “theoretical” thing or a discretionary nicety. These are moral issues. And we do ourselves a disservice to pretend that moral issues aren’t important OR to act as if 80% of the public is to dumb or uninterested to be moved by real moral issues.

    So, I applaud what has been said. But, I think we must (and should) keep the central matter always at, or near, the core of such communications. If some people get tired of hearing about their moral obligations, too bad. Those are the people that (apparently) need to hear about them more.

    Second thing: I hope these politicians start learning about “clean coal” — carbon capture and storage. As far as I can tell, it’s a terrible idea and won’t work. The sooner we realize that, and the sooner we commit to transitioning completely to the cleaner energy sources, the better.

    Although I like Kerry and applaud what he’s trying to do, somebody on his staff should tell him that the question and time will come for HIM to explain precisely how the carbon capture and storage process would (presumably) work, how much carbon/CO2 would have to be stored away, the costs involved, the risks involved, the immense technical complexity involved, and so forth; and THEN explain why all that makes more sense than simply converting to clean energy sources on a larger scale. Until Kerry and others develop a genuine understanding — I mean, a genuine understanding — of the problems and risks involved, they are being unwise and unsound to tell us that we can count on carbon capture and storage. So, what I would say to him is this: Don’t wait for the questions to come up: Ask them yourself, and if you are going to include carbon capture and storage in your talks and bills, then sit down with independent scientists (who are unbiased and know what they’re talking about), for two or three days (whatever it takes), and have them explain to you everything involved, in detail — the risks, the volumes, the technical complexity, and so forth. Please, don’t talk about carbon capture and storage until YOU have understood it. Until you really “get it”.

    Finally, I’m noting that more and more people are pointing out the Big Oil problem. But, that’s often done in sort of a “hollow” way, for lack of a better term. By that, I don’t mean insincere or incorrect. Instead, I mean old, not very weighty, and even “ghost-like”. It’s a bit like telling someone, “there’s a ghost” and expecting that they’ll be scared or think of ghosts as bad. Well, unless you have some deeper understanding of what the ghost really looks like, what it does, how it deceives you, and what it will DO to you, and so forth, and how it harms and uses you, you might be somewhat concerned about it (the ghost) or you might simply discount the notion or even consider it a scare tactic. Without understanding, you won’t have the level of concern or action-orientation that the problem warrants.

    So, rather than simply referring to “Big Oil”, can we actually move to a point where the press is EDUCATING people on what and why that is all about. For example, can we shed light — real light — on the biggest of “Big Oil”, ExxonMobil? Is someone going to start shedding light on the One Trillion Pound (Plus) Elephant on the table? Or, are people just going to refer to “Big Oil” as if they know (and audiences know) what that problem REALLY is, how it is using them, how it is acting selfishly and unethically, and why they should do something about it?

    Back to the main point: Bravo!

    Be Well,


  3. pete best says:

    So that is a 2% (4% in real terms) per annum reduction to 2020 and then 5% (7% in real terms) per annum after that. Its got to be possible but there a lot of resistance out there.

    Its going to take to 2020 to get the system working properly so that emission reductions can accelerate downwards.

  4. SecularAnimist says:

    When Kerry writes that “Farmers … are exempt” it is important to understand exactly what he means by “farmers” — he means giant, corporate-owned “confined animal feeding operations”, a.k.a. “factory farms”, which are among the most noxiously polluting industrial enterprises in America, and which by the way inflict monstrous brutality on billions of sentient animals every year, and also churn out products which cause epidemics of costly, deadly, and entirely preventable human disease. Why these facilities should be off-limits for CO2 emission regulations is beyond me. Whatever the other merits of this proposed legislation, the “exemption” for industrial factory farms is insupportable and Kerry’s dishonest characterization of the corporations that own, operate and profit from them as “farmers” is shameful.

  5. Florifulgurator says:

    What SecularAnimist says. (Plus, beside the emissions of industrial ag there’s the destruction of soil.)

  6. Dr. Matania Ginosar says:

    Senator Kerry is talking about big oil as “the enemy”, but the real problem is big coal, that emits much of the carbon in the US, Germany, China and other countries generating electricity.
    Are we afraid of the political might of big coal or the senator does not know it’s damaging impacts on GW? Does he assume CCS will actually work in time, reliaibly? Can we depend on this unknown, risky technology to power much of our planet? In addition it does not make even economic sense since recent estimates put the price of CCS at a range of $80 to &150 per ton of carbon increasing the price of electricity substantially.
    As a minimum to reduce GHG ASAP- which we must, we need to switch as many coal power plants to reliable, known technologies to replace coal, that is, use Natural Gas Combined Cycle (45% efficiency)that emits just one third GHG per kWh compare to coal. That switch will give us some time to find alternative technologies with even lower carbon emissions.

  7. Dr. Matania Ginosar says:

    Just a few more comments on Germany and China taking our wind and solar developments and running with them. I directed the pioneering wind energy program of the California Energy Commission in the late 70’s that put wind energy on the map, and was also the manager of the solar office at that period. Let’s be clear, wind is technology mature and practical, Photvoltaic is not. It is a dream with the current silicon technology. We should concentrate on R&D not support PV usage.

    Germany put all its intense governmental and public support on photovoltaic for over a decade with minimal impacts. Just 0.3%, just a third of a percent, of it electricity comes from PV since it is very complex and expensive and generate a small amount of electricity. It also takes a lot of electricity to produce the highly pure silicon PV panels, mostly using coal power plants. While they put their energy and money into PV, the coal industry has now 50 new coal plants in different stages of developments.
    What a distorted way of cutting GHG. Please do not attempt to copy that stupidity.
    However, wind energy generates 7% of Germany electricity with considerably less public and governmental support. It is s simple, known technology and already economical without government support.
    We should develop more of that in the US.
    Too many “pure” environmentalists oppose the mandatory power lines we need to interconnect wind farms and that opposition can kill a lot of useful wind energy projects. There is no way we can move towards less GHG without some cost to some people in the process, but we must first satisfy the urgent need of humanity to survive.

    One more comment on conservation. If I understand the bill correctly it will support voluntary conservation. With all due respect it is a useless approach. To cut GHG conservation should be mandatory, like California did for almost thirty years and achieved good results. Voluntarism now so late in the game is ineffective and too late to even try.

    [JR: You do NOT understand the bill correctly. Please don’t post bad guesses.]

    The California conservation laws should be mandatory across the nation, we will save time by using this well developed tool. We may allow states to make the laws more strict if they wish to do so but a uniform national laws for appliances, for example, are more effective and useful.

  8. David B. Benson says:

    Dr. Matania Ginosar (6) — I certainlly agree with you about replacing coal ASAP. Hoever, I think that combined cycle gas turbines generate about 40%, not less, of the CO2 generated by burning coal for the same kWh.

  9. Dr. Matania Ginosar says:

    Joe, I just noticed your comments above, that I do not understand the bill correctly.
    What specifically do you mean? About mandatory conservation? About costly photovoltaic?