Industry reactions on Kerry Lieberman American Power Act

May 12, 2010 — Industry groups, utilities and advocacy organizations are already sounding off following the release of the draft legislation put forward by Sens. John Kerry and Joe Lieberman.

Summaries of the act spell out a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050. To achieve these cuts, the act will reportedly use a carbon cap-and-trade program.

Here is a sampling of what energy sector groups have to say about the American Power Act:

AWEA statement:

The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) issued the following statement from AWEA CEO Denise Bode on the bill outlined by Senators Kerry and Lieberman:

“The wind energy industry appreciates the efforts of Senators Kerry and Lieberman to address climate change in their proposal. We look forward to seeing provisions on renewable energy like a strong renewable electricity standard as well as energy efficiency to create new clean energy jobs and avoid carbon in the near term in any package considered by the Senate. We urge Senate leadership to move quickly on strong legislation.”
Duke Energy statement:

The following is a statement from Duke Energy Chairman, President and CEO Jim Rogers about energy and environmental legislation proposed today by Senators John Kerry and Joe Lieberman.

“Senators Kerry and Lieberman’s energy bill will create jobs, protect electricity consumers, make our nation’s energy supply more secure, and protect our environment. Their leadership — and the efforts of Senator Lindsey Graham to craft this legislation — is extraordinary. 

“The legislation can help the U.S. get its economic ‘mojo’ back. It also sends a clear signal to our nation’s innovators that there will be markets for their products and services. 

“One of my first jobs after law school was as a consumer advocate in Kentucky, challenging utility rate cases in the 1970s.

“Today, I am here as an advocate for Duke Energy’s 4 million customers in five states in the Midwest and Carolinas who depend on coal for the majority of their electricity. I am also here as an advocate for the tens of millions of electricity customers in the 25 states where more than 50 percent of their electricity is generated using coal.

“Senators Kerry and Lieberman’s bill helps ‘get our transition right’ to clean modern energy in a manner that protects American families and protects American factories, both of which depend on affordable power.

“It also gives our electric industry the policy roadmap we need to invest tens of billions of private capital to retire and replace aging power plant fleets with modern, efficient and clean plants.

“The sooner senators from both parties weigh in to constructively debate and move this legislation forward, the faster the private sector can put people to work and help get our economy moving again.”

Dow Chemical Co. statement:

The Dow Chemical Co. commends Senators Kerry and Lieberman for their hard work in developing draft legislation (The American Power Act) for a comprehensive energy and climate change plan. We also commend Senator Graham for his bipartisan contribution to this legislation.

Dow supports a sustainable energy policy for the United States. We urge Congress to pass legislation this year in order to create American jobs, enhance national energy security and lower greenhouse gas emissions.

The certainty of a comprehensive, sustainable energy plan will allow manufacturing companies like Dow to make investments in clean energy that will power the American economy, foster innovation, optimize our domestic energy resources and allow the U.S. to capture the lead in the global clean energy market.

This bill recognizes the need to maintain and enhance the competitiveness of American manufacturers. We look forward to working with Senators Kerry, Lieberman, Sherrod Brown and others to ensure that the provisions in the bill are workable and effective in preventing the shifting of carbon emissions to other parts of the world.

Today the Senate begins a process of additional deliberation to produce final legislation. Dow will continue to support this process with the aim of passing a bill that garners bipartisan support that creates new jobs, improves our energy security, drives innovation and protects our environment.

FPL Group CEO, Lew Hay statement:

“Senators Kerry and Lieberman deserve tremendous credit for crafting a proposal that would move the country in the right direction on energy and climate issues. After years of debate and half measures, the United States still lacks a long-term national energy strategy, leaving us behind other countries in building and exporting the clean energy economy of the future. If we are to continue to lead the world in technological advances, job creation and economic security, we need a new approach. The most essential step — which is at the heart of the American Power Act — is to set a price on carbon dioxide emissions. With a gradually escalating price on carbon that begins to reflect the full social costs of emitting greenhouse gases, the country will make a smooth transition from the high-carbon fuel sources of the past to the next generation of low- and zero-emitting domestic energy sources. No legislation is ever perfect, this bill included, but Sens. Kerry and Lieberman have shown true leadership in their efforts to reach a balanced solution that all parties to this debate should be able to support. We applaud their efforts and look forward to working with them to get a bill signed into law.”

T. Boone Pickens statement:

“Senators Kerry and Lieberman are to be commended for a plan that recognizes the economic and national security threat of our ever-increasing dependence on foreign oil, particularly OPEC oil. Achieving energy security is not easy and I applaud their focus on a broad energy package that includes replacing foreign oil/diesel/gasoline with cleaner, abundant domestic natural gas in America’s heavy duty vehicle fleets. I look forward to working with them in the coming weeks to focus attention on that aspect of their legislation. More than 1.6 million Americans have signed on to my campaign to solve the foreign oil crisis, and I’m going to see to it that this objective is achieved as the legislative process evolves. Using natural gas as a transportation fuel is a non-partisan issue. The time to act is now.”

Natural Resources Defense Council statement:

Today, Senator Kerry and Senator Lieberman released comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation. The bill provides a good starting point, and we look forward to working with Senator Majority Leader Reid and President Obama to build on this foundation without delay to deliver legislation that puts Americans back to work, reduces our dependence on oil, and creates a healthier future for our children.

We need that legislation now more than ever. As the Deepwater Horizon disaster continues to unfold with tragic consequences, it has become painfully clear that America needs a safer, cleaner approach to energy development. Congress must enact a comprehensive clean energy and climate bill this year that puts America back in control of our energy situation.

This draft legislation gets us moving in the right direction.

It is too soon to say where NRDC stands on every aspect of the bill. As I write this, NRDC experts are combing through the document, and I imagine they will discover things in it that NRDC likes and things we don’t. Here’s where we stand on what we’ve seen so far.

* The bill’s core carbon pollution limits are solid. These emission limits get tighter every year and will drive investments in clean energy that create jobs, cut pollution, and end our addiction to oil from dangerous locations, both offshore and overseas. 

* The bill would be more effective if its overall pollution limits were backed up by minimum performance standards for the largest polluters. We will work to strengthen the bill to preserve more of the Clean Air Act’s proven approach to cutting air pollution.

* The bill must not create incentives for offshore oil drilling or push forward drilling before we understand the risks involved for specific areas. The current presidential moratorium does not go far enough, and does not, for example, stop the drilling planned for this summer in Alaska.

* The subsidies for nuclear power in the draft bill are excessive and the proposed weakening of safety and environmental licensing reviews is ill-advised. NRDC will oppose these provisions.

* The energy efficiency and forest protection provisions should be more robust, and NRDC will work to strengthen these provisions as the process moves forward.

Senators Kerry and Lieberman have done a remarkable job of building the foundation for clean energy and climate action and overall, I believe the bill is a good start. But to realize the promise of the bill, we need leadership from the top.

We need President Obama and Majority Leader Reid to guide a process that brings Senators of good will from both sides of the aisle together around a comprehensive clean energy and climate bill — one that draws on the best elements of this bill as well as other proposals so the Senate can pass effective legislation without delay.

United Steelworkers statement:

Leo W. Gerard, International President of the United Steelworkers, issued the following statement:

“The USW has long believed that the goals of stopping the threat of climate change and creating thousands of clean energy jobs can and should be two sides of the same coin. To do this, a climate bill must ensure that emissions are actually reduced and not simply off-shored along with millions of American jobs.

“A well-constructed approach should limit the amount of carbon “Ëœleakage’ — the incentive for production of goods and jobs to simply move to countries that fail to address global climate change. This leakage of emissions and jobs has the potential to undermine both the economic and environmental goals of energy and climate legislation, and it is critical that any climate bill include a comprehensive and fully-funded package of policies to prevent it.

“Energy-intensive, trade-exposed manufactured products will be more heavily impacted by a carbon price than others — and while this can be mitigated long-term by improvements in efficiency and cleaner processes — this will take time and requires the right combination of adopted policies. In the meantime, these industries could potentially face decimation and massive job loss at the hands of foreign competitors that do not face similar carbon costs, unless both a short-term and long-term program is put in place to ensure the cost disadvantage faced by US manufacturers is eliminated.

“At the beginning of the U.S. program, a robust and fully-funded transition assistance program of output-based allocations for at-risk manufacturers is necessary. These allocations will allow manufacturers the breathing room necessary to make investments in cleaner processes, but they should be considered temporary in nature. They must be backed up by a border allowance requirement on products from countries that do not share America’s commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions through effective, meaningful and comparable policies.

“Climate change legislation, done properly, has the potential to create new and expanding opportunities for revitalizing manufacturing and job creation in this country. This requires not only a comprehensive anti-leakage program, but a variety of other policies such as an ambitious Renewable Electricity Standard, an effective worker training provision, and incentives for clean energy product manufacturing. It must recognize that for the American economy to truly thrive, this bill must focus on the entire clean energy supply chain.

Shell Oil Co. statement:

“Shell commends Senators Kerry and Lieberman for introducing an energy and climate bill designed to strengthen our economy, create jobs and enhance our energy security while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”

“This legislation ensures America’s global competitiveness and recognizes the role clean natural gas can play in growing the economy and protecting the environment. The senators have taken a fresh approach to transportation emissions that encourages the development of home-grown energy, provides transparency for consumers and enables American refiners to compete against imports of diesel and gasoline.”

“We are pleased the senators engaged Shell, along with other energy companies and an array of environmental and business groups, in dialogue as the bill was developed. They have pursued an open and inclusive process and ensured that a range of views were taken into account. Shell recognizes the hard work and important contributions of Senator Lindsay Graham to this process.”

“The demand for energy continues to grow. All energy sources — oil, gas, wind, solar, nuclear, and energies yet to be discovered — will be part of our energy mix for decades to come. Shell continues to employ our people, technology and expertise in the environmentally sound development of existing and future energies. We remain committed to America’s energy security and global competitiveness.”

Westinghouse Electric Co. statement:

In commenting on the legislation, Westinghouse President and CEO Dr. Aris S. Candris said:

“The new nuclear energy plants that are being built, and will be built, over the next decades are clearly the most efficient and safest electricity-generating plants ever designed. The Westinghouse AP1000 nuclear plant, for example, makes use of naturally occurring, passive safety systems that rely on gravity, condensation and natural circulation to begin cooling the plant in the highly unlikely event of an accident even without human intervention.

“This unsurpassed level of safety of the new plants, and the proven track record of success of the existing operating fleet, will help to ensure that nuclear energy achieves its full potential and that the United States will be able to achieve higher levels of energy independence.”

NRG Energy statement:

“This bill marks another major step forward on America’s path to energy security, internationally competitive industries, new American jobs and a clean, healthy environment. Our country today faces new and sobering energy policy and national security threats, which need to be addressed through safe, clean domestic energy and ways to use it instead of imported oil,” said David Crane, NRG Energy President and Chief Executive Officer. “As a leading developer of new nuclear power plants and an innovative electric car charging business, NRG especially appreciates this bill’s strong and pragmatic provisions to ramp up the nuclear renaissance, while quickly deploying the infrastructure for electric vehicles. These steps, along with aggressive, budget-neutral funding for renewable energy and carbon capture and storage, are the most effective means to quickly give American drivers a safe, homegrown, competitive alternative to importing oil from unfriendly regimes—while squarely addressing our major sources of carbon dioxide emissions.”

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