$500 Million in Waxman-Markey Goes to Clean Coal Administrative Expenses?!?
All thanks to this man... Joe Hall via flickr
If you've followed the progress of the American Clean Energy & Security Act (aka Waxman-Markey) you're probably aware that after all the political wrangling, the bill that recently got passed by the House Energy and Commerce Committee isn't quite as robust as many environmentalists would like. As a prime example of the sort of influence the coal industry has had on the bill, Solve Climate highlights the $500 million in "administrative expenses" allotted to a new clean coal research center:David Sassoon points out that Rep. Rick Boucher (D-VA) managed to get the full text of a bill he proposed last year (which other than a few hearings went nowhere) that would establish the Carbon Storage Research Center inserted into ACES.
It fills section 114 of the Clean Energy Title of the Waxman-Markey bill, and it is a giant gift to the utility industry. It would create the Carbon Storage Research Corporation and funnel $10 billion to support the corporation over the next 10 years, with up to $500 million designated simply for "administrative expenses" to be spent at the discretion of its officers.
The most curious part is where all that money is going to come from. The answer: from every ratepayer who uses electricity, in the form of an almost invisible tax that would average 50-cents-a-month, conveniently referred to as an "assessment."
Republican opponents of climate legislation have been telling the public that a cap-and-trade bill would impose a "light switch tax." It was a witty and effective slogan used to scare voters during a recession.
The political irony is that Boucher, together with 20 co-sponsors including Republican climate-bashing Reps. Joe Barton and John Shimkus, have imposed a light switch tax of their own, with 100% of the proceeds earmarked as an enormous hunk of pork for coal-fired utilities.
The bigger thing in all this, beyond the fact that this is another hand out to the coal industry, is that as Sassoon also points out, no similar assessment will be made to support the development of renewable energy sources.
In financial terms for the average family an additional 50¢ a month isn't going to break anybody, so why not have a renewable energy assessment? The equivalent of a federal feed-in tariff (modeled on Germany's, not Spain's...) to spur adoption of wind and solar power, reducing risk by establishing long term price predictability, for example.
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