For the most part, environmental groups in the U.S. are lauding the passing of the ACES (American Clean Energy & Security Act). After all, it is the first comprehensive piece of legislation to regulate greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, an achievement almost unthinkable 12 short months ago.
Many different environmental and climate advocacy groups worked hard to get last-minute revisions into the bill. Care2 members sent hundreds of thousands of letters to Congress. 1Sky sent 18,000 faxes and logged 1,600 phone calls in support of a revision that would give up to $30 billion in renewable energy and efficiency incentives. And Green for All rallied 1,000 phone calls in the last 48 hours to ensure an $860 million appropriation for Green Jobs.
We should be happy, right? Well, some groups -- including Greenpeace -- don't think so.
An analysis reveals that in the two weeks leading up to the vote, coal and oil lobbyists outspent environmental groups 16:1, resulting in a bill that may dissuade international support at the upcoming U.N. climate talks in Copenhagen.
It’s great that the U.S will be setting a higher than expected goal of a 17 percent reduction (below 2005 levels by 2020). But with a cap-and-trade program that offers 85 percent of its pollution permits for free, it is questionable how effective the bill will ultimately be.
Then there was the agricultural industry coup. Knowing full well that nary a single Republican would be voting for ACES, Democratic Rep. Collin Peterson used his clout to give full power to the Department of Agriculture in allocating its own carbon offsets. This means the EPA will have no jurisdiction over agricultural permits, even if they have environmental impacts.
In a surprising move, Greenpeace joined forces with the conservative group American Solutions for Winning the Future calling for a “no” vote. They believe the bill could do more harm than good by effectively encouraging environmentally destructive industries like nuclear, ethanol and that mythical beast, “clean coal.”
Here’s the scary video by Winning the Future.