Yesterday, Rep. Jan Schakowsky joined Environment Illinois and the Center for Neighborhood Technology in calling for an "all hands on deck"
effort by Illinois environmentalists and public health advocates to
push for passage of cap-and-trade legislation. ...
Yesterday, Rep. Jan Schakowsky joined Environment Illinois and the Center for Neighborhood Technology in calling for an "all hands on deck" effort by Illinois environmentalists and public health advocates to push for passage of cap-and-trade legislation. That effort is only made more difficult by Republican members of Congress such as John Shimkus and Peter Roskam who are working to distort the facts about this plan to curb carbon emissions.
As a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Schakowsky has been involved in the behind-the-scenes negotiations over a cap-and-trade bill, which proponents estimate would generate $646 billion over 10 years to cover the costs of the ambitious environmental agenda outlined in President Obama's first budget. Today the White House sent their own message to Congress: One way or another, carbon regulations are coming. That's because the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has officially determined that greenhouse gases pose a severe environomental threat -- a fact long understood by the science community. The agency will now take the lead in pushing for regulations under the Clean Air Act.
Here's Grist's Kate Sheppard's synthesis of the decision:
Rather than wait for Congress to act, it appears that the EPA will move forward with its own rules, even though they may eventually be superseded by a new law. “Until Congress acts, EPA is going to go full steam ahead. That’s the bottom line,” said [Sierra Club chief climate counsel David] Bookbinder. “They have a legal duty, and they know they have a legal duty. And it will certainly create some pressure on Congress.”
The EPA's action underscores Schakowsky's contention yesterday that "the time is now" for environmental regulation, even though Congress itself has yet to move forward on the issue in a substantive way. If they did, Environment Illinois' Max Muller tells us that cap-and-trade legislation would spell good news for Illinois, contrary to industry friendly critics. He points out that without the $646 billion increase in estimated revenue generated by such a plan, pollution permit fees, renewable energy investments, and environmental clean-up projects will continue to be neglected.
After crunching the numbers, Environment Illinois released a report yesterday highlighting what Illinois stands to gain under Obama's budget proposal*:
- $27.4 billion over 10 years from making polluters pay for global warming pollution, if the revenues are apportioned by population;
- $1.5 billion in Illinois taxpayer dollars that will no longer subsidize profits for Big Oil;
- 90 sewage treatment plants that exceeded clean water permits in 2005 could be eligible for a statewide total of $90.2 million in funding for repairs and upgrades;
- 6 toxic waste sites could see accelerated clean up from reinstatement of a polluter pays fee expected to generate $17.2 billion in revenues over 10 years.
As Sheppard points out, nearly everyone -- "from the deepest greens to industry lobbyists" -- agrees that even with the EPA pushing for carbon regulation, it really is Congress' responsiblity to draft and pass legislation to guide the emission reduction plan. A strong response to Schakowsky's "all hands of deck" call will be needed to ensure that the forthcoming regulations aren't manipulated by those seeking to protect the heavy polluters.
CLARIFICATION (4/19): This post originally suggested that the "highlights" from the Environmental Illinois report applied specifically to a cap-and-trade program. In fact, they apply to President Obama's overall budget proposal, which includes a cap-and-trade program.