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The Climate Change Bill = The American Power Act

May 13, 2010

It would be nice to think that the much awaited Climate Change Bill, actually called The American Power Act, were just that: a powerful act towards mitigating environmental damage to our country and its resources. But that may be wishful thinking.

“This bill is more industry-friendly, very different from the bill that passed in the House,” stated Washington Post’s reporter covering the issue, who says this Climate Bill “is an Energy Bill.” The Act was introduced today by U.S. Senators John Kerry (D-MA) and Joe Lieberman (I-CT).

For one, this bill, backed by zero Republicans, makes expanded drilling possible in Gulf of Mexico, Alaska and South Eastern U.S.  It would not open up drilling off the Coast of California.

The American Power Act also provides R&D funding for carbon capture and sequestration, a technology that the coal and oil industries are fond of pointing to as a means of lessening their industries’ environmental impact but which is as yet an unproven technology, for the most part. The Bill also provides for a Cap And Trade system for the Utilities.

The photo was taken in the Vanderhoef Studio Theater at the Robert and Margrit Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts in Davis, California, 5/12/10.

Governor Schwarzenegger had this to say about it today,

“I am encouraged by this new effort by Senators Kerry and Lieberman to address the challenges of clean energy and climate change at the federal level with a comprehensive energy policy. California has been an unparalleled leader in clean energy, pioneering policies that have benefited the entire nation, and we must be able to continue our important, groundbreaking work that will both improve the environment and help our economy.

I continue to believe we need a bipartisan, national climate change commitment that will reduce our dependence on oil, protect our environment, grow our economy and put Americans back to work. I look forward to reviewing the American Power Act and working with Congress and the Obama Administration to ensure it builds on the progress states have made, like here in California.”

Governor spoke today at a University of California (UC) Davis Graduate School of Management Dean Steven C. Currall as part of E3: Economic Prosperity, Energy and the Environment — A Roundtable to Set the Agenda on Clean and Sustainable Paths to Economic Prosperity, an event hosted by The CTO Forum’s Energy Council and UC Davis.

Noteworthy is Minister of The Environment, Canada, Jim Prentice’s response to the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill: “I think it’s always been clear that the oil sands provide a safe, stable, secure supply of energy and they need to be developed in an environmentally responsible way. The risks associated with the oil sands, the environmental risks, are significantly different than, and probably less than the kind of risks associated with offshore drilling,” he said.”But we still have to be on our game in terms of the environmental regulations for the oil sands as well.”

The business supporters backing the American Power Act include:  Honeywell, Dow Corning, Duke Energy and the Edison Electric Institute, BP and Shell. BP is the oil company involved in the Gulf Oil Spill.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. May 13, 2010 16:41

    Despite what Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach and other supporters of the carbon-intensive tar sands industries are saying these days as oil gushes from the wounded BP rig in the Gulf Coast, Canada’s tar sands are not a solution to offshore drilling. They leak 2.74 million barrels of toxic tailings waste into the Athabasca watershed every DAY. The industry permanently destroys the boreal forest (the world’s largest carbon sink), destroys the habitat for migratory animals like caribou and birds, contaminates aquifers through SAGD drilling, and creates miles of pipelines to bring oil to the US – any one of which could leak and contaminate water and agricultural land.

    First Nations living at the edge of the expansion see the damage, taste it in their water and smell it in the air. And the Beaver Lake Cree Nation has launched a plucky legal action that is a REAL chance to slow or stop the expansion of the tar sands. They are suing the federal and Alberta governments, using their Constitutionally guaranteed right to hunt and fish on their ancestral lands as the basis for the battle. If they win, the 17,000+ permits issued to every mega-oil company become illegal. But it’s costly and they are running out of money – and if the legal action fails, we all lose. Bottom line is with the permits currently issued, the tar sands will triple in size in the next ten or 12 years.

    In a recent NRDC Switchboard blog, Susan Casey-Lefkowitz pointed out that we “need to end our addiction to fossil fuels so that this type of accident and the dangers of the climate change that fossil fuels bring will be a thing of the past.” At the same time she acknowledges that, “oil companies are putting dirty, dangerous and expensive sources of fuel such as tar sands oil forward as a ‘transition’ fuel to the clean energy economy. This is a wrong choice given the very real risks and liabilities of tar sands oil.”

    ‘Legal action is the only way’

    As tar sands promoters, including the Alberta government, ramp up their public relations campaigns to promote this type of industry as safer than the horrific mess spreading throughout the Gulf, remember the Beaver Lake Cree as a point of sagacity and simple truths. Chief Al Lameman was quoted in the April issue of the New Internationalist as determined to stop the tar sands. “This is our home. This is where we live. We have a responsibility to our children to see that these lands remain inhabitable. A legal action is the only way to make our voices heard.”

    But to win, the small band of 900 needs an angel. Or a few angels. Because the governments named in the legal action – Canada and Alberta – have deep pockets. And the strategy (in addition to using catastrophe in one ecosystem to promote commerce in another) is to delay and outspend. And in that effort, they are being immensely successful. The band has put up $500K, no small undertaking. The Co-Operative Bank signed on as the first angel. Woodward & Company (the legal firm leading the case) is another angel. They have both donated several hundred thousand dollars to keep the case alive. This case can succeed. It’s real.

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