Letter to Congress from 22 environmental groups in support of cap-and-trade bill, preparedness

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22 national environmental organizations, representing millions of members, sent a letter June 22 to members of the House of Representatives urging a vote in support of the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009, the Waxman-Markey greenhouse gas emissions cap and trade bill currently set for House floor debate on June 26.  The groups urged that the bill be strengthened between now and final passage, including “amendments that increase investments that help…prepare for the impacts of climate change to natural resources and vulnerable communities that can no longer be avoided.”  See Details for full text and list of signers.

We are pleased to see the language of preparedness, which we have steadily emphasized as a key component of any meaningful climate policy, moving forward in the public discussion.

The letter:

The Alliance for Climate Protection * American Rivers
Center for American Progress Action Fund * Clean Water Action
Climate Solutions * Defenders of Wildlife * Environment America
Environmental Defense Fund * Environmental Law & Policy Center
Interfaith Power and Light (IPL) * League of Conservation Voters
National Audubon Society * The National Hispanic Environmental Council (NHEC)
National Wildlife Federation * Natural Resources Defense Council * Oceana
Oxfam America * Pew Environment Group * Sierra Club
Southern Alliance for Clean Energy
The Wilderness Society * Union of Concerned Scientists

June 22, 2009

House of Representatives Washington, DC 20515

Dear Representative:

On behalf of the millions of members and volunteers that our organizations represent, we write to urge you to support final passage of the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (ACES).

We also urge you to do everything possible to strengthen the bill between now and final passage, and along its journey to the President’s desk.

ACES will help build America’s clean energy economy and launch the United States’ first national plan of action to address the growing threat of climate change. ACES offers our country the most important opportunity in generations to jumpstart our economy, create millions of new, well-paying jobs, and set the stage for America to compete and prosper in a 21st century economy.

We believe this is one of the most important votes of our time. There are rare moments in American history when the urgency to act is clear, the stakes are high, the costs of inaction are untenable, and the need for courageous leadership is paramount. Now is one of those moments. An opportunity like this may not come again for many years.

ACES will deliver important benefits for consumers, workers, and businesses, while protecting public health, national security, and the parks, forests, and coastlines that define America’s natural heritage. Specifically:

•  ACES launches the first national plan of action to address climate change. The legislation includes a steadily declining cap to reduce pollution from major sources such as power plants and oil refineries, and launches a new, large-scale program to protect tropical forests. The legislation includes a clear scientific process for evaluating the plan over time and recommending updates.

•  ACES creates and funds programs to helps states, communities, public health officials and wildlife professionals prepare for and respond to those impacts of climate change that can no longer be avoided.

•  ACES includes an energy efficiency plan that includes new standards and incentives to use smarter energy technologies and save energy where we live and work. The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy estimates that ACES will save consumers billions of dollars annually on energy bills.

•  ACES creates new incentives for clean energy and provides states with allowances worth billions of dollars annually to promote energy efficiency and clean energy in every part of the nation and in all communities, with specific measures targeted at low-income communities. The Center for American Progress estimates that, combined with the already-enacted American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, ACES can help create 1.7 million clean energy jobs.

•  ACES includes several important programs to save oil by investing in the next generation of vehicles, supporting the development of smarter transportation plans, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions from heavy trucks, construction equipment, trains, and airplanes. In addition, it creates energy efficiency programs that will reduce oil consumption from homes and businesses.

•  ACES delivers cleaner energy with an affordable framework that is fair to Americans across all income groups. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the 20% of households with lowest income in America will see an average net economic benefit of $40 annually. Overall, CBO estimates that the net cost to the average household will be under 50 cents per day, and this estimate doesn’t include the energy bill savings potential from the legislation’s energy efficiency measures.

•  CBO has determined that ACES reduces the national budget deficit, lightening the financial load on future generations even as we begin to reduce the environmental debt we will leave behind.

The window of opportunity to act is short. Although ACES is just the beginning of an effective long-term national strategy on climate change, the science is clear that we must get started now and have already delayed far too long. By passing ACES, the House will create vital momentum for action this year by the Senate and the President, as well as for global action. As we approach the December 2009 deadline for climate treaty negotiations in Copenhagen, Denmark, we must show the world the U.S. is ready to commit to action toward solving this global problem.

As ACES is considered on the floor, we urge that you oppose any amendments that weaken the bill’s clean energy incentives and environmental goals. We urge you to support amendments that strengthen the bill, particularly those that create more clean energy jobs with stronger renewable energy and energy efficiency provisions, as well as amendments that increase investments that help foster a fair and effective global agreement and help prepare for the impacts of climate change to natural resources and vulnerable communities that can no longer be avoided.

Most importantly, we urge that you vote “yes” on final passage to get started now on a national effort to address climate change, and that you reach out to your colleagues to build a strong coalition of support for a clean energy future.

Our members, partners and allies are mobilizing as never before to capture this historic opportunity. Now it’s time for Congress to act.
Sincerely,

The Alliance for Climate Protection
American Rivers
Center for American Progress Action Fund
Clean Water Action
Climate Solutions
Defenders of Wildlife
Environment America
Environmental Defense Fund
Environmental Law & Policy Center
Interfaith Power and Light (IPL)
League of Conservation Voters
National Audubon Society
The National Hispanic Environmental Council (NHEC)
National Wildlife Federation
Natural Resources Defense Council
Oceana
Oxfam America
Pew Environment Group
Sierra Club
Southern Alliance for Clean Energy
The Wilderness Society
Union of Concerned Scientists

 

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