Press Release | June 26, 2009

House Passes First U.S. Effort on Climate Change

Passage of this House bill signals a seismic shift in U.S. policy on climate change—from ignoring the problem to attempting to solve it—but the bill needs strengthening by the Senate.  We appreciate all the representatives of the Southeast who stepped forward to tackle the problem of global warming through this monumental effort. Now we look forward to working with the Senate to strengthen the bill.
The legislation establishes a strong cap for heat-trapping gases, and provides a clear path for decreasing the emissions cap based on evolving science. It also includes a broad range of measures that promote energy efficiency and clean energy.
Unfortunately, concessions on biofuels, biomass, offsets and clean air protections threaten to seriously compromise the bill’s ability to achieve its goal of reducing heat-trapping gases.
The Southeast has many opportunities for power from renewable energy including biomass, but last minute deals eliminating key safeguards for forests threaten some of America’s great public forests and our private forest lands in the Southeast.
Effective oversight of carbon offsets should be the responsibility of the Environmental Protection Agency, not the Department of Agriculture as in the version of the bill that passed the House.
This climate legislation should not be used as a vehicle to erode existing health and environmental protections under the Clean Air Act.
With so many in need and the enormity of the challenges before us, the Senate now has the opportunity to restore money to the public’s wallet and encourage cleaner, more efficient industries by auctioning off more credits that make pollution and inefficiency costly. Policymakers should be wary of repeating Europe’s mistake of giving away too many credits to polluters.
About Southern Environmental Law Center The Southern Environmental Law Center is the only regional nonprofit using the power of the law to protect the health and environment of the Southeast (Virginia, Tennessee, North and South Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama). Founded in 1986, SELC's team of 40 legal experts represent more than 100 partner groups on issues of climate change and energy, air and water quality, forests, the coast and wetlands, transportation, and land use.

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