Even as the public option continues to get smacked around by Max “insurance industry pissant” Baucus (while lacking the brevity of “asshat,” I think it serves as a more nuanced critique which accurately reflects my concerns) and defended by Jay “largely decent human being” Rockefeller and Alan “holy shit thank you for saying that” Grayson; the Senate managed to begin dealing with another ludicrously complex, powerful, and unsustainable system: energy.
While it’s still too early for me to fully assess the Clean Energy Jobs and Power Act, there are some good signs, below the jump.
- First of all, it contains two provisions Green For All has lobbied for: the Green Construction Careers Demonstration Project (which increases access for marginalized workers on green projects) and more funding for the Green Jobs Act (which mostly commits money to job training). This is fantastic, and I’m proud to say that Hard Hatted Women was one of a number of organizations signing Green For All’s letter to Sherrod Brown in support of these provisions.
- It restores the EPA’s power to regulate CO2 emissions from coal plants.
- It ups the emissions cut from ACES’ 17% of 2005 levels to 20%. This isn’t enough by any means, and I wish it was something more like 40% so we could be sure that when it gets watered down (if you think health care was bad, get ready motherfuckers, this is gonna get hairy) it would be to something like 30 or 25%. But 20% is freaking out enough people we need who are negotiable (as opposed to people who won’t support it until it becomes meaningless and ineffective), and the Obama administration and Harry “takes the ‘leader’ out of ‘Majority Leader’” Reid have made it abundantly clear that they have incredible patience for corrupt cowards like Baucus and will arm-twist (or ‘let go’) the shit out of those fighting for truly progressive goals and challenging corporate hegemony and socio-economic inequity. Long story short, I’m glad they upped it to 20%.
- Joe Romm over at Climate Progress seems to think it’s an improvement over ACES in terms of offsets. While I have more reservations about Romm now than I did last time I cited him regularly (earlier this spring), he remains one of the more credible, thorough, and accurate commentators on climate policy. I’ll need to look into this, but I’m willing to trust him for now.
So what do we have to look forward to?
I am praying that Obama and Senate Dems will have learned at this point that Republicans are completely worthless partners in this effort (another reason I distrust Romm’s analysis: he still thinks we can woo McCain and Snowe with nukes. In a turn on a truly great Darth Vader line, I find this unwarranted faith disturbing). If not we will waste very valuable time and effort trying to bring them around. I trust Kerry and Boxer way more than I do Baucus, so hopefully they’ll deliver and spend their time working on the difficult but manageable Dems.
Unfortunately, Jay Rockefeller does not look like one of those Dems. I don’t know enough of his background to gauge his commitment to the West Virginian working poor vs. the coal industry. It is probable that he sees the interests of both groups to be one and the same. I disagree, but that’s not really going to change anything about the fact that he finds 20% reductions completely unacceptable.
I do hope however that Sherrod Brown’s IMPACT (Investments for Manufacturing Progress and Clean Technology) gets included in the bill at some point if this brings him and some other rust belt Dems around. IMPACT would set up a revolving loan fund that would help smaller manufacturers re-tool in order to adjust and would also include trade provisions to make sure we don’t ship our energy-intensive industries to countries without carbon caps. Brown has promised to vote against a Republican filibuster, which is a step in the right direction, though whether that means he’ll actually vote for the bill itself when the time comes is another matter. I’m going to ask him about it tomorrow when he’s in Oberlin.
As activists, we need to work unbelievably hard to make sure these advances from ACES are retained. I also think we need to do what we can to make IMPACT a part of the bill. I’m not yet sure whether it will be a decisive factor in making rust belt Dems join on (I’m gonna bet it was in the case of ACES, which my awesome congresswoman Marcy Kaptur voted for), but if it is then for the love of God we need that thing in the bill. Because get ready for astro-turfing and right-wing hysteria all over again. Those fuckers must be on a Red Bull IV or something.
That’s all for now, obviously I’ll be returning to this in future posts, but I think this is a good assessment at this point.
Next post, in a related vein: reflections from that time I got a few rounds of drinks at the Feve with John Hofmeister, former CEO of Shell USA!