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Congressional Climate Bills - Congressional Climate Bills

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Congressional Climate Bills
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Big coal will get generous loan guarantees and more. "Section 1412 establishes a (utility-collected) carbon tax paid by ratepayers....to fund carbon capture and storage (CCS) - with no money allocated to rooftop solar or energy efficiency investments." Under section 1431, coal companies are given (taxpayer subsidized) emissions allowances - "an untested, risky strategy that benefits (them) and is gobbling up a lion's share of subsidies" that should go for renewable energy development.

Merchant coal power plants (whose rates aren't regulated) will get about 5% of the handouts, "which will provide opportunities for them to gouge consumers."

Section 1604 says because "voluntary" renewable energy markets are efficient and effective programs, "the policy of the United States is to continue to support" them without the guarantees given fossil fuel and nuclear industry giants.

The bill also promotes carbon offsets trading - a scam to let polluters buy credits from countries or companies whose greenhouse gas emissions fall below their allowed quotas. However, shifting isn't reduction. It simply transfers pollution from one place to another, has no verification mechanism, creates a system wide open to fraud and mismanagement, and allows the same market manipulation shenanigans that created the housing and toxic derivatives bubbles - precisely why energy giants and Wall Street want it.

Utilities, not consumers, will benefit from free 2013 - 2029 allowances, "exclusively" for ratepayers purportedly. But instead of remitting directly to them, the Senate bill lets state utility commissions decide. They, in turn, can be more or less consumer friendly, but as their past history shows, ratepayers will end up losers.

As for Wall Street, the Senate bill is marginally less accommodative than the House version, but not enough to matter. For example, a new Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) Office of Carbon Market Oversight is created, letting the corporate-run agency regulate spot and futures emission markets.

It would require emissions traders to register, be approved, and have their transactions cleared through a CFTC-run Carbon Clearing Organization. It'll work the same way the Federal Reserve regulates banks - by letting the giants that own it make the rules.

Further, carbon trading lets Wall Street "control our climate future" by "mak(ing) the housing and derivatives bubbles look like target practice," as Catherine Austin Fitts explained.

If cap and trade is enacted, polluters will win. Consumers will lose, and Wall Street will get the mother of all speculative bonanzas. No wonder, they and the energy giants are lobbying ferociously for passage.

Connection to the Gulf Disaster

On May 9, Attorney General Eric Holder told ABC's This Week that he sent Justice Department officials to the Gulf to determine if any "misfeasance (or) malfeasance" occurred.

Is the Senate climate bill perhaps connected to the Gulf spill? - being used as a pretext to propose "protections," including a provision saying:

"Mindful of the accident in the Gulf, we institute important new protections for coastal states by allowing them to opt out of drilling up to 75 miles from their shores. In addition, directly impacted states can veto drilling plans if they stand to suffer significant adverse impacts in the event of an accident."

Don't bet on it, as House and Senate bills, in fact, assure more, not less, offshore drilling, thus far prohibited in oil rich waters Big Oil companies covet. But what they want, they generally get, free from regulatory oversight or not enough to matter. That won't change nor the chance for more spills, on or offshore. As one expert explained: "As long as we keep using this stuff, we're going to be spilling it. It goes with the territory."

Yet if the Gulf incident was deliberate, why so? On September 30, S. 1733: Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act was introduced, purportedly to "create clean energy jobs, promote energy independence, reduce global warming pollution, and transition to a clean energy economy."

On November 5, it was reported to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, remained stalled, and the December Copenhagen climate summit (COP 15) failed. Then after the April 20 Gulf incident, it was reactivated to take advantage of a good crisis - what White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel once told the Wall Street Journal saying:

"You never want to let a serious crisis go to waste. What I mean by that is that it's an opportunity to do things you thought you couldn't do before."

And a joint Kerry-Lieberman statement said ahead of the bill's rollout:

"We are more encouraged today that we can secure the necessary votes to pass this legislation this year in part because the last weeks have given everyone with a stake in this issue a heightened understanding that as a nation, we can no longer wait to solve this problem which threatens our economy, our security and our environment."

White House climate advisor, Carol Browner, told Bloomberg TV that:

"This accident, this tragedy, is actually heightening people's interest in energy in this country and in wanting a different energy plan."

Perhaps they, BP, Transocean and Halliburton know something we don't. In this case a possible false flag "accident" to jump-start passage of the Senate bill to enrich polluters and Wall Street, the only way they may have thought possible after Senate debate stalled.

Of course, to enlist enough public and congressional  support, a headline-making incident was needed, though doubtful one this grave was intended - according to some experts spewing from 40,000 - 100,000 gallons daily to continue for months, even years given the enormous underwater pressure at a one-mile depth - 40,000 pounds per square inch, the reason fixes so far tried have failed, and no one's sure what'll work. The latest BP tube insertion may be more a PR stunt than a solution, but don't look for its officials or Washington to explain it.

Extremely worrisome are the enormous deep water oil plumes, one, for example, 16 km long, five km wide, and 91 meters thick, suggesting permanent ecological damage with untold consequences. Already, oxygen in the Gulf is depleting, threatening sea life over a vast area and the livelihoods of area fishermen.

As for the industry's likely cost, it's pocket change, especially as others (including Washington and perhaps the states), not the offenders, will pay the most. Consider the Exxon Valdez disaster.

It occurred in March 1989. After years of litigation, plaintiffs got $385 million in compensatory damages and $5 billion in punitive ones. However, after numerous appeals, the Supreme Court (in June 2008) reduced the latter ones to $500 million - ten cents on the dollar or the equivalent of about 1.5 days profit from Exxon's Q 1 2008 operations, or hardly enough to matter.

As for Prince William sound and its residents, its beaches are still contaminated. The high-pressure hoses did more harm than good. They destroyed interlocking layers of gravel and flushed away fine sediments that protect beach areas, clams and mussels during storms. As many as 300,000 seabirds were killed plus other wildlife.

A Trustee Council study found 17 of 27 monitored species haven't recovered. Bio-accumulation of toxins affected the killer whale population. Clams are inedible from hydrocarbon poisoning. Shellfish damage slowed the recovery of otters that feed on them. The herring never returned. Salmon caught have abscesses and tumors, and the lives of about 32,000 plaintiffs were permanently disrupted economically, emotionally and culturally by bankruptcies, alcoholism, suicides, family violence, and divorces. And today the area still smells like a gas station and perhaps will for decades.

As for enacting Senate energy legislation, falsely called a climate bill, the battle lines are now drawn, including for offshore drilling, but given its importance to Big Oil, expect heavy-lifting lobbying for passage, whether or not this year. Whatever happens, expect the public to lose out to powerful corporate interests, especially energy and Wall Street ones spending millions to assure it.


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