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Let's Defend The Climate Change Bill

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16 July 2009, 3:35 PM
Massive coal lobby threatens nation's chance for a clean energy future

The Senate, perhaps inadvertently, has given the American public a chance to help counter a massive assault by the fossil fuel industry on our nation's best hope to fight climate change and forge a clean energy future—the American Climate and Energy Security Act.

The mission of ACES is historic and essential: drive the transition to a clean energy economy with millions of new jobs and dramatically reduce carbon emissions to avert the worst impacts of climate change. It could enable the United States to play a powerful leadership role in global climate negotiations later this year.

But, though well intentioned, the legislation suffered at the hands of fossil fuel lobbyists in its passage through the House of Representatives, and even its champions acknowledge that some of the concessions in the bill may hamper its effectiveness. Now, in the Senate, it faces even more attacks on its integrity from lobbyists led by coal.

Fortunately, though, the Senate has postponed until September its consideration of ACES, giving time for citizens, the environmental community and President Barack Obama to join in the effort to defend and strengthen this legislation.

The stakes could not be higher. President Obama describes ACES as "a good start," but given the political realities it may be all we can expect on climate change for many years to come. That puts tremendous pressure on the president—and the environmental community—to get it right this time.

Earthjustice's biggest concern is a loophole that exempts coal-burning utilities from changing their ways for at least 15 years. This means that the nation's biggest single contributor to greenhouse gas emissions can keep on polluting—and expanding—even as other industries are forced to clamp down. As engineered by massive coal industry lobbying, the loophole "grandfathers" in the existing, dirtiest coal plants, making them exempt from C02 limits under the Clean Air Act. Forty-three new coal plants planned or being built in the next five years would escape the bill's performance standards.

The enormous giveaways extracted by the coal industry's well-heeled lobby will allow dirty coal plants to supply nearly half of our electricity through at least 2025 according to EPA. Yet to achieve the carbon reductions that are needed by mid-century, we must start building a new clean energy infrastructure now. With old coal dominating the power market for decades to come, we will not see the investment in renewable energy that is critical both to the creation of a vibrant green economy and preservation of the planet as we know it.

Coal knows that its historical role as king of electricity generation is at stake because it is the major driver of climate change. Its leaders understand that effective legislation must put us on a path to replacing coal. Given that, it's understandable why the industry is fighting so hard to gut ACES.

With a massive lobbying effort, coal has outspent, outhustled and outmuscled its environmental and clean energy competition. In the first two quarters this year, the coal mining industry spent $6.8 million on lobbying. Another $71 million was spent by utilities that mostly use coal. Natural gas—the second biggest electricity generator—spent only a fraction of coal's expenditure in the first quarter, and suddenly awoke last week, vowing to pour money into lobbying efforts to carve out its own concessions in the Senate bill.

All of this means that we in the environmental community must speak up and convince our senators that effective legislation cannot give coal a free pass and put the bill's effectiveness in jeopardy. Old coal plants should have a deadline to clean up or shut down, allowing our energy needs to be met by cleaner, prosperity-creating alternatives. This is the message that you can send now by going to a special action alert page Earthjustice has set up. I encourage you to take this action now.

But, President Obama also must act. He must use his bully pulpit to bring the nation and this planet into the debate. Now is the time for the strongest possible support from the White House and the strongest message from all of us. Nothing less is likely to offset the steady drumbeat of fossil fuel interests fighting to keep the status quo.

are the senators crazy! i would kick out the president or the senate if theyyyy think that global warming is not dangerous. who are these senators, bush!!! these people are insane if they think that they can get away with this. Obama should take away all their money and services no matter how much illegal action it takes. it will make a lot more votes for him in the next 4 years.

I live in Saint Petersburg, Florida, and my four children were born here. Two of them were born with "non-genetic" birth defects, from "unknown causes". I want, and I need legal support to do so, to file a common-law-nuisance law suit for injunctive relief and damages against the owners and operators of every coal-burning power plant that we live downwind from, and every power plant that is located upwind from any water body, or that drains into any water body, that supplies drinking water, or provides habitat for any commercially harvested seafood, that I or my family have been, could have been, or may continue to be, exposed to.

The electric power companies will say they have permits. However, I say that neither the State of Florida nor the government of the United States of America has the legal authority to grant a permit to poison and thereby put in eminent danger, the life, liberty, or pursuit of happiness of any Citizen of the State of Florida or and/or of the United States of America, and any governmental employee, who, under color of his or her authority, did so, violated the civil rights of me, my children, and all the Citizens of Florida and any Citizen of the United States of America in Florida.

The Citizens of the United States and the State of Florida have the inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, as enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, and adopted, engaged, and agreed to by the Continental Congress; as acknowledged by the "Full Faith and Credit" clause in Article IV of The Articles of Confederation; as acknowledged by the "All Debts contracted and Engagements entered into" clause in Article VI of the US Constitution; and as guaranteed under the Ninth Amendment to the US Constitution.

Is anybody interested? Can I get some help? It's not just for me. It's for all of us, our children, and our children's children.

M. E. Hubbard

It is important that we note the restrictions and improvements that must be made to the coal industry. However, it is also imperative that everyone understands that the processing of coal takes enormous amounts of fresh water that would better be used for safe drinking. All chemicals should be 'banned' from water, as it is necessary sustenance for all life. Since the 'clean air technologies' have been hidden since the 1960s, let us also note that people are in need of jobs. Opening up the technological opportunities and general labor required to create these models are a necessity. It would improve the quality of air as well as the quality of living standards, which are beginning to suffer in the U.S.. We need to reduce emissions; however, the Climate Change that is now taking place IS an all natural event. We 'are' at the ending of a 26,000 year cycle. The Axis of the Earth 'has tilted,' which the scientists and governments have 'not told people' but is obvious by the exceptionally enormous Sun that is currently visible in the Northern States. Folks must keep in mind, that during this time of change it is 'not' going to assist the planet to pass a treaty, which will put many people below poverty level. There is 'not' a treaty, or a tax that can reverse this situation. I can only hope this is understood, and that people realize that a greenhouse affect is 90% cloud vapor and water. The other 10% being Co2, hydrogen, helium, nitrogen and O2, with the quantity of Co2 @ a mere 0.038%, which is a little over 1/3 of 1%. This amount is very, very minute and is necessary to sustain the life of trees and plants, in order that they can produce the O2 that we breath. In other words...oxygen. I understand that many terms and conditions are also within this treaty for global governance. I choose not to be taxed for the air I breath. I was born on this planet with the divine right to exist on it, without having to pay for something that is in more than abundant quantity, and is not 'owned by governments or special interests.' Who do they 'think' they are to do such a thing? I have not seen signatures from the Divine Creator turning the Earth and Universe over to them to own and tax. I do, however, reject and condemn the continuous spraying of the atmosphere with chemicals such as Barium, magnesium, copper, aluminum crystals and sulfur dioxide in such massive quantities, that they're choking the life out of this planet; not to mention the millions of metric tons of 'fuel emissions' from the jets spreading it around. At the cost of 'killing off' what is left in the oceans, and by suffocating all life with chemicals, I choose to promote a sustainable future 'without geo-engineering' the Earth. This was a very horrendous decision, and one that REQUIRES immediate reversal. I also reject and condemn the use of HAARP as weather and electronic control, for weather and all else. These experiments, which have been taken over by the military using secretiveness and procedures not approved of by the American people, and can only harm the Ionosphere surrounding this planet, as well as the natural electromagnetic energy that makes mother Earth what she is. We are 'not' the divine intervention...but we have been part of the bleak circumstances we see, and it needs to stop. There are too many issues to contend with at Copenhagen without losing the freedom that our independence has brought us, and fought for by our servicemen. We do not need global governance and tax demands, which will make us 'slaves' to a cause...we need the freedom to make decisions and carry them out amongst ourselves, setting a 'time stamp' for urgency. This will force the technology out of hiding, and out of the hands of massive corporate interest and the oil barrons, creating smaller groups of companies, with the new blood for creating a sustainable future.

what kind of kool-aid have you been drinking??? or are you an Oil or Coal investor???
I'll take the science gathered from CLIMATE scientists from around the globe over your mish-mash rhetoric any day. Just sit back, relax and let the professionals handle the serious issues.....

Given the state of American politics - lobbying and what not - it seems to me that the 'rest of the world', by which I mean the global environmental and policy community, would be well-advised to be pro-active and intervene pre-emptively so its voice is heard on the Hill as the ACES takes final shape.

Ain't it more prudent to prevent the harm at the Hill than to cry over spilt milk at Copenhagen?

ps: .......and I was blaming the Chinese for building coal plants at a frenetic pace!

[...] and my guess is that the outrage won't stop there. This story, coupled with the unprecedented lobbying efforts coming from industry, illuminates the contentious debate that this legislation has stoked. At [...]

Phasing out coal powered generating plants certainly is required. However, they are but a symptom of the problem which is a nation living far beyond its means. Per capita we use more energy than any other nation. This consumption is exacerbated by the fact we have the third largest population. Our economic "premise", largely endorsed by the public, is that we must have an expanding population with each member consuming ever more of increasingly limited resources including the "free" ones - air and water. As seen in the recent economic twist, such a model is not sustainable. Reducing our consumption would allow time for alternative sources of energy to demonstrate their value which, as the Germans and DOE Secretary Chu suggest, is much more potent than most realize. History suggests that this nation could reduce its energy consumption ~20% without major economic ramifications. That would largely require individuals taking some responsibility to reduce. While such reduction can be easily done, I see little will on the part of the American public to change their ways. Therefore, we need more electric generating plants.

I am not right or left.
I am not wrong or right.
We live within a circle.
Therefor people with an angle must be confused.
I care about pollution and people.
Slow down on both or the world is doomed.
Even a child knows that when their room is a mess
they have to clean it up or takeover someone else's space.
Mom will not stop the overly aggressive or
the selfish short sighted children
from invading the clean space of the rest of us
like it or not
that is our job.

While I agree we need much more to keep toxic emissions as low as possible, we have to be carefull not to technologically put the cart before the horse. It doesn't work well that way! First we need to develope the technology so its practical and economically sound, then develope the mandates. We (you) seem to always get that backwards in our (your) haste. You would think by now we would have developed solar to a viable, practical, cost effective level by now, if not nuclear fussion. Lacking viable alternatives, we need to improve what we have, rather than all adopt an Amish life style, tempting though that may be for some. Since coal is our principal energy resource we need to do what we can to improve on how this is utililzed since there is plenty of room for improvement and probably still be economically viable. Then when viable, bring on the new clean technology and new regs.
As for anthropogenic global warming, while there is much unknown here, there is alot known and well established. Most of this points to natural repeated cycling causes related to solar forcing issues. Of perhaps of more concern though is that politics has impinged on our science converting it to politics as it always does. The bias demonstrated here is extrodinary and the facts are being fixed to effect the political policies. (Bush II ?) It's not just that the numbers don't add up, it's that the numbers are being apparently contrived, something easier to do with computer modeling used in the absence of complete and accurate science. The whole process seems corrupted. If we don't care about this (if true) we are in a more immediate threat. Check "Climate Change Revisited" before drawing too many hard conclusions.

deny all you want but I hanging with the rest of the world......we want to LIVE!!!!

try your glossy-eyed nonsense on the ppl who live on the islands that are going under and see if they believe your nonsense.

I hardly think there is any discussion anymore about what the overwhelming majority of scientists agree on. its not for you to deny anymore. you just choose what you _want_ to believe in, what is easier for you. sure its easier to not think about it, to not do anything.
(what about mercury pollution, lead and all other toxic levels going up and up in the waters around the world? is that cyclic too do you think? what about coral death? does corals that have been around millions of years die off every couple of hundred years and then just pop back to life again? )

solar power IS viable. it is massively implemented on private home scale to power plant size. as is wind power. there is no further need for research to determine that these sources are "viable". you just have to invest the money to build them.
and if coal is so goddamn profitable and "viable", why does the taxpayers always have to pay for the investments in carbon capture technology for example? (as is happening in australia, spain, germany, sweden...) is it because the coal power companies wants to get better or is it because they want to make as much money as possible short-term and F everything else, including the planet and all children. they are clearly not going to take the responsibility.

and reducing emissions doesnt necessitate living "amish" either. in sweden we have about 1/4 of the carbon emissions per capita compared to the US and almost exactly the same lifestyle. its only _slightly_ more effective and better regulated. but I guess you dont even want to hear how easy it is.
Im not saying we couldnt do better as well. we could and we are going to.
please wake up!

I have to congratulate Marla on her steadfast adherence to arguments against climate change. Also, I'd hate to be in her shoes -- having to read these lefty posts that disagree with her stand and then having to write just to take up space so that lefties will not forget she's there. I even hate having to read the few posts that represent right-wing ideas, let alone going to a blog I disagree with and spending my time there. It's not easy being a plant!

I feel like we're all kind of in the same boat here: fear. Some people are afraid of change and losing their place of power in the coal industry, while others are afraid of losing the environment I really hope everyone can find it in their hearts to work together, have EVERYBODY face their fears and make real positive change. That being said, I do love our planet and all this coal business needs to stop.

It's amazing that coal can still be thought of as a viable fuel, when it is the cause of so much lung illness. We must impress upon Congress that coal is not the way to go!!


Come on guys, do you really want the inept, and incompetent Congress, and their likewise experts telling americans what electricity they can use, when and how? I certainly dont since global warming is a hoax and the earth hasnt warmed in 10 years. Government is skewing statistics on global warming, to tax us, and so they will all get a kick back from it, by investing in al gores new investment firm which will sell us carbon taxes. Do you actually believe many of these guys , voting for this bill are honest, moral, upright, honorable statesmen? I dont!!! I think they are goosling, waterlogged, demented and demoralized, less than men, beings who only care about money and power. They only care about themselves and NOT the American people. I dont believe in their analyzation of the situation, doubt their mental capacity and do not trust them to vote in my or your, best interest. Anyone who votes for the bill, needs to be thrown out on his behind, whether republican or democrat!!!

Um, YIKES. Oh dear, won't you feel silly when the polar ice caps have melted completely? Obviously you will not be "thrown out on your behind" due to your stance, however, you might find it prudent to remove your head from your behind and catch up with reality.

The energy future does not lie with soot and smoke, but with alternative, renewable sources of energy. We simply can't go on as we have since the industrial revolution began. The world we live in can't tolerate it.

Environmentalists are not of one mind on whether industrial wind energy is "clean" and "green." In the northeast, local environmentalists are consistently opposed to wind developers' efforts to hide the science about noise impacts: rural communities where turbines would be sited enjoy background sound levels of about 25 dBA, while wind farms emit about 50 dBA up to about 1 km. An increase over background of 20 dBA or more is considered "intolerable" by the NYS environmental agency. Visual impacts are expected to substantially devalue property such that it would take decades for host towns to recover the loss in declining assessed property taxes from host benefit payments (most of which are simple transfers of state and federal tax breaks). And industrial has yet to prove it can displace sufficient conventional power (in the northeast it generates at 10-20% of rate capacity) to justify its cost. However, the large enviro orgs like Sierra support wind energy carte blanche, without seeming to care about relatively densely populated rural areas (as distinct from deserts, or off shore areas). It's time for Sierra to step up to the plate and get involved in the dirty details of industrial wind.

Besides the threat to our ozone layer ,then we have mercury toxicity going on in Michigan in Indiana at way higher rates than safe,if there is such a thing as safe clean coal! Mercury is a neuro toxin and leads to such things as M.S.,Parkinsons disease and children being born autistic!

The world runs on energy, and that energy must come from somewhere. Obviously, the cleanest approach is always the best approach, but it's impractical for all the coal, oil, gas, etc. power plants in the world to shut down simultaneously.

Oops, meant that as a comment to all, not as a reply...

Coal plants need to be denied new permits and the existing ones need to be shut down. Everyone who knows about climate change knows this. The question is how to do it. And the answer is certainly not ACESA.

How can you fix something as wrong on coal (and other things) as that in the Senate? How about starting over with a new bill, one for cap and dividend, or revenue-neutral carbon tax where the American people get a rebate from the polluters. A price on carbon would cause business to immediately conserve and stop their wasteful practices and it would snowball from there.

Coal plants need to begin the conversion to clean energy. Any monies being put into energy should be required to convert to solar, wind, or hydrogen power. If they have the money to build, it should be a requirement to build only clean, renewable sources of energy, and at least 25% of any money spent should be used to begin the conversion of existing plants.

I hope those deciding not to be respectful of the earth and what we were given are prepared for the a uncertain future. Is it not better to carefully consider that "going green" is the best path. It will be good for America. We can have our beautiful earth and live well. New jobs for Americans can be created. It can benefit everyone...even those in denial.

truth is we are poisoning ourselves with our exploitive methodology. physically, metaphysically. philosophically, practically. one way or another the climate is changing and we need to learn to live better. live with. we must create a regenerative cycle of living. give and give.
for the empircist in us, the practical reallity is 'fossil fuels', from gathering to processing to consuming, is a destructive, poisoning, event. with far reaching effects. far reaching. please listen to your heart when researching these areas of knowledge, and allways let your conscience be your guide.
love, (thats right, love)

Right on, Seth!

There is no global warming u ignorants! every one who thinkgs there is global warming happening because of us the people is either an ignorant or is part of the brainwash process that threatens our great country!!!!!


Poor thing. Cling to your illusions and cast your aspersions where ye may. You got it all wrong, pal.

If you ("Anonomous") are willing to read just a couple of balanced scientific journal articles I can e-mail to you, I think you might just crack open your mind a bit. Otherwise, I suspect you're one of those information consumers that shops around for whatever feels best to believe in. None of us WANT to believe in climate change! But it's a pretty bad gamble to stake your own family's future on some belief that a vast variety of scientists and their interlocking data bases may just be part of some great 'conspiracy'(?) There's just no money in it!!!

I'll be checking back to see if you want to read some reports.

Anyone who does not understand the reality of the crisis facing the earth due to climate change is truly uninformed and probably a devotee of Glen Beck or Sean Hannity.

The most prestigious scientists from NCAR and NOAA are fully aware of the serious consequences if we do not change the direction of the polluters who care little about the future of the earth. Only those who are short-sighted and selfish, who are not willing to make some sacrifices to make the world habitable for future generations, would deny the existence of this problem.

Thank you, Anonymous 1 and 2, for those articulate and well-reasoned responses, as eloquent as they are informed.

climate change is not caused by fossil fuels. it is normal fluctuations caused by nature being blown completely out of proportion to get into your pockets and create fear. with fear they can control you. there is plenty of REAL, SUBSTANTIAL EVIDENCE that proves global warming is a lie. i am sure both sides have valid points and issues. however, one can not ignore the planes spraying the air and the global weather control taking place. laugh if you will, but the weather is completely controlled at this point in time. EVERYWHERE. in a tlc show i saw chemtrails in the sky of antartica. explain to me how a normal contrail would have been made in antartica? chemtrails=weather control. wake up people. look in the sky and pay attention to what the hell is going on right in front of your very eyes!

At this point climate deniers could be tried for treason. They are paid shills for the fossil fuel industries,

Welcome to the new religion.

The problem with the whole global warming discussion is that sound scientific procedures are NOT followed. Anyone who opposes the global warming theories is seen as traitors.
Yes, we need to care for the environment, but this global warming theory MUST allow scrutiny from BOTH sides, and NOT be just taken as a religious dogma. Sound Science dictates that. However, that wouldn't sell the story. We're just spoonfed through the media what the powers that be want us to believe.

While we should stop polluting the earth we borrowed from our children, we need to step back and look at REAL evidence. I invite everyone to watch "The Great Global Warming Swindle", and think about the aspects presented there.

Nothing is black and white in life, it is time that we get along with each other and look around, and take our life into our OWN hands, and not hand it away to the governments of the world who do not represent us, they represent the corporations and banks of the world.

I'll bet it's the Wicked Witch of the West up there flying around on her broom and spraying an unknown chemical in the air that is causing the icebergs to melt. Go bite her ankles, Toto.


That will be Sarah "Barracuda" Palin herself, in top form I might add. Bite hard Toto!

It is entirely possible that we have already passed the tipping point in being able to halt catastrophic climate change within the lifetimes of our children and grandchildren.

But that is no reason to give up the fight. To give gross polluters such as the coal industry a free pass for the next 15 years is not just stupid, it is criminal. These guys (big coal) are no more ignorant of what they are doing than the tobacco industry was for years. That industry, like the coal industry, is quite willing to let us die. Simply put, one might call it premeditated murder.

The health of the planet that supports us is at stake. If we don't get this legislation and all the related actions during these current years right, we will have set the course for a catastrophic world tragedy for our children and future generations--those of them that survive. And this goes for other species too.

Are we going to squander this awesome responsibility, for very short term gain by a few?

Those politicians and corporate executives, who don't believe in global warming need to be taken on conducted tours by senior climate scientists.

i sincerely hope that we also fight against the weakening of the Clean Air Act and the EPA. Thanks for your work.

Puget sound is dying. The now iconic Washington State salmon and The Southern Resident Killer Whales are probably all doomed to extinction. The Gig Harbor Peninsula's sole source water supply, essentially left from receeding glaciers may have been "mined" to a tipping point.

We have inherited a collective identity that ignores the multiple dimensions that have sustained life as we all know it on this planet.

there are so many reasons in addition to climate change to help clean up our world. we have been blessed to enjoy the planet in many ways no other generations have done and owe it to others to try and keep it for all future generations

Remember the blue-green world from the window of Apollo 11.

Love. Breathe. Evolve.

Lobbyist money is destroying the environment. It seems as if none of the polititians will take a stand to do the right thing to save the environment, our home, our planet. I guess it doesn't matter to them, the kind of world they are leaving for their children. Where is the honor and
conscience to preserve this beautiful country?

"...a loophole that exempts coal-burning utilities from changing their ways for at least FIFTEEN YEARS???" That's bigger than the ozone-layer hole above Antarctica!

We need 100% renewable energy, because it doesn't pollute, as all fossil fuels do. But these Republican-voting, suit-stuffing, briefcase-toting, prematurely balding, almightly-buck-worshipping, strip-club-frequenting, slave-driving, liquid-lunching, law-flouting, politician-greasing, shark-emulating, caffeine-binging, power-abusing, constantly-schmoozing, wheeling, dealing, profit-stealing, coke-snorting yuppies who run oil and coal companies can't see beyond their own life spans, even if they have kids -- they tell them "I dealt with my problems; you deal with yours". And that's essentially the difference between conservatives and liberals.

Spending $35 million to choke the planet with coal, is not economic recovery nor is it climate recovery. Well thought, well placed alternative energy makes cents! and sense. Support responsible energy solutions.

I am writing to oppose the provision in the ACES bill that allows coal plants to wait 15 years before reducing their CO2 emissions.

I am an engineer who makes his living extracts hydrocarbons from the ground for the world to use to power our industry and produce our food and do this for companies all over the world. So, I am a realist and know that we will need fossil fuels for decades and that "millions of green jobs" means millions of other people will loose their jobs. There is no free lunch and no easy solutions.

However, I also know that global warming will cost much more than just raising our electricity bill and that fossil fuels cannot last forever. I also know that we know of a 100 years supply of natural gas in tight rock in the United States (2,000 trillion cubic feet), we have 900 billion of barrels of shale oil oil and 100 billion barrels of left behind oil.

So, why are we tolerating the dirtiest form of energy left over from another era.

Burning coal is almost as bad as making ethanol from corn. At least we can use a lot of the CO2 released by fermentation to produce oil.

However, coal is just too easy to replace. For example, by sequestering the flue gas (not just the CO2) from one coal-fired power plant we can produce enough energy from coal bed methane to replace or refuel five plants. So there is no need to ever build another coal fired power plant. Moreover, we can convert coal plants to gas plants with our abundant supplies of natural gas.

We can build nuclear plants. Standardized designs will produce electricity cheaply.

We can expand wind energy and equip roof tops with solar collectors.

There are just too many things that we should be doing to tolerate coal fired power plants. They should be phased out within 15 years, not allowed to pollute for 15 years before they have to change anything. No new coal plants should be built. That is a no brainer.

Congress should fix this glaring loophole in the enrgy bill before it is too late.

This is ridiculous!! It is nothing but greed on the part of the fossil fuel companies with no regard whatsoever for the air that is breathed by the general public, as long as their is money going into their pockets.

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