Tuesday, June 3, 2008

CORKER ANNOUNCES AMENDMENTS TO CLIMATE SECURITY LEGISLATION

Corker Seeks to Return More Money Directly to American Citizens, Prevent Massive Government Expansion, Keep More U.S. Dollars at Home

May 28, 2008, JASPER, TN – U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-TN), a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, today announced his plans to introduce three amendments to the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act of 2008, S. 3036, when it comes to the Senate floor for debate next week. The crux of the Corker amendments is to get more money returned directly to the pockets of the American people who will bear the brunt of the costs associated with cap-and-trade.

“I believe we should return more money directly to the pockets of American citizens, prevent massive government expansion, and keep more U.S. dollars at home rather than sending them overseas,” said Corker.

Specifically, the Corker amendments would (1) provide direct relief to American consumers bearing the brunt of the cap-and-trade program’s costs; (2) increase direct reimbursement to the American people by eliminating free allowances—worth over a TRILLION dollars—to entities that have nothing to do with reducing carbon emissions; and (3) eliminate the use of international offsets to meet emissions reductions.

“Since day one, my goal has been to support a bill that addresses climate security AND energy security in a balanced way. This bill is not that and, in my opinion, is not ready for prime time,” said Corker. “While it does focus on climate change, unfortunately it is also a huge spending bill that uses non-discretionary spending—funded in essence by a tax on the American people—to spend TRILLIONS of dollars on new and existing government programs.

“If a cap-and-trade bill becomes law, every single American will pay more for gasoline, more for electricity, more for food, more for everything they buy as a result. I believe that any money generated from a cap-and-trade system should be put back in the pockets of American citizens burdened with these additional costs. Additionally, I believe we need to increase the amount of allowances that are auctioned, rather than giving them away for free to other entities who are supposed to use the value of those allowances to benefit the public. In my view, American citizens would be better served receiving relief directly rather than relying on middlemen to provide that relief through a massive government expansion."

Corker has joined with U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) to offer a third amendment which will eliminate the use of international offsets to meet emissions reductions. “We should eliminate all international offsets as a way for emitters to comply with the U.S. carbon cap,” said Corker. “There are serious questions about the integrity of many of these projects, and it is difficult to determine whether these projects would have occurred anyway. In addition, these offsets would have a distorting affect on the U.S. cap-and-trade market and would lead to even more American dollars being spent overseas in countries like China, instead of in America.”

Noting that climate change and cap-and-trade would be significant issues facing Congress, Corker has spent his first 16 months in office delving into the complexity of the policy. Last May 2007, he traveled to Europe with Energy Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) to meet with European Union officials, carbon traders, representatives from the utility industry, and cement manufacturers. In July, Corker went to Greenland with Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-CA) to view the effects of climate change. He has also spent countless hours with Tennessee-based industry, conservation groups, and experts discussing the impacts of climate change legislation, and in April, Corker began making presentations to his colleagues outlining his concerns with the bill.

Commentary
Congratulations to Senator Corker for proposing these common sense amendments to the Cap and Trade bill. Maybe you can make a purse out of a sow's ear.

It is clear that a Cap and Trade bill will not pass this year. The House has not even taken up the measure and President Bush has said he will veto a Cap and Trade bill if it does pass Congress. At this time, their does not appear to be 60 votes in the Senate to bring any Cap and Trade bill to a vote. With gas approaching $4 a gallon and politician talking about cutting the gas tax and with general concern about the economy, we cannot expect politician to have the courage to pass a bill that will acutally increase energy cost. Also, we can expect an outpouring of opposition once the public becomes aware of the pocketbook impact of a Cap and Trade bill. In addition, the environmentalist community has not been aggressive in selling the concept or rallying the trooops.

Despite the grim outlook for this session of Congress, a Cap and Trade bill may very well be in our future. McCain, Obama and Clinton are all supporting some version and Democrats, who have been more friendly to environmental causes, will more than likely gain seats in the next Congress. Working on the bill now, even though it will not pass this year, is an extremely important part of the process so that the final bill is a bill that will actually achieve the goal of reducing greenhouse emissions without destroying the economy.

Cap and Trade as now drafted is not a bill worth passing. It would be extremely costly and probably accomplish little. Also, there are numerous amendments pending which, if passed, would weaken the bill and benefit special interest and actually make this bad bill even worse. One of the major problems with the bill is that it gives away too many credits rather than selling them. Corker's amendmends will correct some of the major defects of the Cap and Trade proposal. It is my hope that the final bill is a bill that is worthy of supporting.

Keep up the good work, Senator.

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