Commentary

Jackson Discusses American Clean Energy and Security Act

 
Photo courtesy of the EPA
 
On April 22, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson spoke before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce on the draft American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009. What follows is an excerpt from her testimony:

"President Obama has called on Congress to pass forward-looking energy legislation.

That legislation should create, here in America, millions of the clean-energy jobs that cannot be shipped overseas. It should catapult American innovators past the foreign competitors who, due to aggressive investments by their governments, now enjoy a head start in the advanced energy technologies that represent the new Internet revolution, the new biotech wave. It should reduce our dependence on oil and strengthen America’s energy security. And it should start, in a real and tangible way, to tackle greenhouse gas pollution, which threatens to leave to our children and grandchildren a diminished, less prosperous, less secure world.

The American Clean Energy and Security Act would introduce a clean energy requirement for American electric utilities and new energy efficiency programs for American buildings. Those initiatives aim to create good American jobs that cannot be shipped overseas.

The legislation would launch programs to promote electric vehicles and deploy technologies for capturing, pipelining, and geologically storing carbon dioxide produced at coal-fueled power plants. Those incentives aim to help American companies make up for lost time in the advanced energy industries that will be to the 2010s what Internet software was to the 1990s.

The legislation would institute new low-carbon requirements for vehicles and fuels and programs to help reduce vehicle-miles traveled with increased transportation options and help for communities that want to plan for sustainable growth. Those proposals aim to reduce America’s dependence on oil and cut back on the hundreds of billions of dollars that Americans send overseas every year.

And the legislation would put in place a declining cap on greenhouse gas pollution. That market-based system aims to protect our children and grandchildren from severe environmental and economic harm, and great threats to national security while further invigorating advanced, American energy industries.

We look forward to working with Congress as this bill moves forward to ensure that it meets the President’s objectives in the areas of an efficient and comprehensive approach that creates jobs, leverages our tremendous capacity for innovation, reduces our dependence on oil, and prevents the worst consequences of climate change.

I would like to note that the Waxman-Markey discussion draft tracks many of the recommendations put forward by the U.S. Climate Action Partnership, a coalition that includes American manufacturers such as ALCOA, John Deere, Caterpillar, Dow, Ford, General Motors, and General Electric. Those employers of American workers recognize, as they declare at the outset of their Blueprint for Legislative Action, that:

'The United States faces an urgent need to transform our nation’s economy, make the country more energy secure, and take meaningful action to slow, stop, and reverse [greenhouse gas] emissions to address climate change.'

"I believe that the leadership of this committee is stepping up to provide the kind of “new vision and policy direction” that those companies talk about.

Now, the “no, we can’t” crowd will spin out doomsday scenarios about runaway costs. But EPA’s available economic modeling indicates that the investment Americans would make to implement the cap-and-trade program of the American Clean Energy and Security Act would be modest compared to the benefits that science and plain common sense tell us a comprehensive energy and climate policy will deliver.

I ask the members of this Committee to recall the Acid Rain Trading Program, drafted by this committee and signed by a Republican president in 1990. Beltway corporate lobbyists insisted that the law would cause “death for businesses across the country.” But as the members of this committee who worked hard on that legislation know well, it ended up delivering annual health and welfare benefits estimated to be over $120 billion at an annual cost of only $3 billion. Our economy grew by 64 percent even as the program cut acid rain pollution by more than 50 percent."

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