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Clearly America needs to reach for, and achieve, a Clean Energy Future.

Not so Clear is the Road we will take, if any, to ultimately get there ...


Kerry says Obama intends to move votes on energy
Reporting by Timothy Gardner and Richard Cowan, Editing by Sandra Maler, Reuters -- June 22, 2010

WASHINGTON - [...]
Obama is slated to meet leading Republican and Democratic senators on Wednesday to discuss a way forward for the energy legislation.
[...]
Kerry said the bill must include ways to price carbon but was not "locked into any one single way of doing it."

"The fact is if we don't price carbon, we will create one tenth of the jobs and reduce only one tenth of the emissions," he said. "It would essentially be an energy-only bill."

As far as Clean Energy plans go, here is ''New kid on the block' ... and it clearly has a few advantages -- not least of which is Simplicity.

The CLEAR Act, from Cantwell & Collins, Get Its Close-up
By Michael van Baker, Editor thesunbreak.com -- 06/21/10

[...] One striking thing about the CLEAR Act formulated by senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Susan Collins (R-ME) is its lack of heft: It's 39 pages. Another is that it would (in theory) pay a family of four an estimated $1,100 per year in dividends, to offset any extra costs in clean energy prices.

Senators can really appreciate a climate change bill that comes in under 1,000 pages (Waxman-Markey weighs in at 1,428, Kerry-Lieberman at 987), and the person-in-the-street tends to perk up at the idea of getting a check for $1,100. Who cares what it's for! (Cantwell and Collins call it a "cap-and-dividend" bill, and say it will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050, while driving the free market to seek out and implement clean energy options.)

80% by 2050 -- THAT, I did not know!

Maybe this plan will create incentives for individuals, to Go Green?  and not just the Millionaire movers and shakers?


A cap-and-dividend way to a cleaner nation and more jobs

By Maria Cantwell and Susan Collins
Washington Post Friday, June 18, 2010

Our concept is simple: Instead of cap-and-trade, our approach is "cap-and-dividend," with the dividends going where they belong: into the pockets of hardworking Americans.

The legislation would set up a mechanism for selling "carbon shares" to the few thousand fossil fuel producers and importers through monthly auctions. Seventy-five percent of the auction revenue would be returned to every citizen and legal resident of the United States through equally divided rebate checks -- averaging $1,100 for a family of four each year.

The remaining 25 percent would finance clean-energy research and development; help reduce emissions in agriculture, forestry and manufacturing; and provide transition assistance for workers and communities in carbon-intensive regions.

The legislation aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 20 percent by 2020 and 83 percent by 2050.

Researchers at the New York University School of Law found that the legislation would generate good, "green jobs" in areas such as construction, solar power and mass transit because a predictable carbon price spurs investment in efficiency and cleaner-energy solutions.


US families get a $1,100 Dividend Check every year?

Sounds like the Oil-based Dividend checks, that Residents of Alaska get from the The Permanent Fund, just for being Alaskan Citizens -- and for letting Big Oil, have first dibs to their National Treasure.

Wouldn't it be nice to get a Check -- for making Big Oil, take a hike, from our future?  ... No more Gulf of Mexico's -- No Thank You!

Sen. Cantwell to Meet with Obama Wednesday
By Josh Feit, Monday, June 21, 2010

Asked what Cantwell would tell the president, Cantwell’s office told PubliCola this morning:

Her message for the President will be the same one she’s been delivering to her Senate colleagues: the CLEAR Act offers a simple solution for climate legislation—weighing in at 39 pages compared to 1,500 pages or more for some of the other bills;

it is the only Senate bill with Republican support (Susan Collins of Maine);

it puts a predictable price on carbon, which we need to incentivize growth of clean-energy alternatives,

but it keeps most Americans whole by paying dividends out of the funds raised in auctioning carbon shares;

it steers clear of creating yet another speculative market that could create instability in the energy field -- exactly the opposite of what we’re trying to achieve;

it focuses ... that is, on producers and importers of coal and oil, not users.

You can find the details on Sen. Cantwell’s CLEAR Act here, but the basic is this: As opposed to "Cap and Trade" -- a system in which the government auctions off a limited number of carbon permits to fossil fuel producers, with the money going to the government (while polluters trade their permits in a separate carbon market),

Cantwell’s "Cap and Dividend" would use the money to give rebates to utility customers, whose bills will certainly go up under the auction system.


Given the track record of 'Speculators', in the creatively demolishing the Mortgage Market, and given their herd-like behavior to blindly chase up the price of a Barrel of Oil, beyond what energy users could 'reasonably' bear  -- Do we really want such 'Speculators' driving the demand for Green Technology and Jobs -- or the lack thereof -- depending on their 'trading whims' of the moment?


'Cap and Trade' -- or 'Cap and Tax' as the GOBP likes to call it -- has all the of Pain of Going Green, with none of 'pay back' to working Americans, except for maybe the knowledge of "having done a Good Deed" -- whenever they get to pay one of their higher Energy Bills, again.

The 'Cap and Dividend' relies on Carrots however, in addition to some classic Carbon Pricing "Sticks".  SO that Energy Consumers get some help paying those inevitable higher Energy Bills.

The Cantwell-Collins 'Cap and Dividend' Bill, if passed, would have the Clean Energy Windfall Profits Checks being made out to The American Consumer -- NOT to the want-a-bee Carbon Futures players.  Wall Street Speculators who couldn't give two wits, about preserving the planet -- if recent history is any guide.


The Clear Act: An explanation

http://www.youtube.com/...


Is the Clear Act perfect?  Hardly!

Is it easy to explain, and easy to understand?  Most Definitely.

Afterall what good is it to have ambitious Green Energy Goals, if they never get off of the Legislative Drawing Board, and out into our Energy Economy, in the first place?


Will 2020 pass us by -- with STILL No Progress, in preventing all that Carbon from being dumped into our Skies --

What Then?   Perhaps a few more "sticks" then [as opposed to the Diviidend "carrots" now]  will bring about the energy change, we will still need, even then?  

But then again, Perhaps not.


For without the will to change, without the means to change, not much ever does ... They call it:  Protecting the 'Status Quo' for a reason ... and until WE the Energy Consumer becomes 'part and parcel' to that Future Energy equation --

Until then ... 'Change' is just another Ideal ... in search of a Champion.

'Change' and a few bucks found in your Car Cushions, just might get you a Mocha Latte at your local Coffeeshop -- if you're lucky, that is.

Originally posted to Digging up those Facts ... for over 8 years. on Wed Jun 23, 2010 at 12:56 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

    •  Excellent diary (5+ / 0-)

      I was an early backer of Cantwell's clear proposal. Here's my diary from exactly one year ago today, (Wednesday June 23rd, 2009): Cantwell's CLEAR Gamechanging, Simpler + Fairer CO2 Reduction Senate Approach

      "These old Wall Street boys are putting up an awful fight to keep the government from putting a cop on their corner." - Will Rogers

      by Lefty Coaster on Wed Jun 23, 2010 at 01:21:51 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Oops I meant Oct. 3rd 2009 (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ivote2004, journeyman, jamess

        "These old Wall Street boys are putting up an awful fight to keep the government from putting a cop on their corner." - Will Rogers

        by Lefty Coaster on Wed Jun 23, 2010 at 01:26:49 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I read your diary (0+ / 0-)

        Please see my comment elsewhere and answer my questions if you can. I don't see how this is a game-changer at all. The only benifits I see are that it sets floor and ceiling levels on carbon pricing and sells credits by non-profit auction, an improvement over carbon credit commodity markets (which are a corrupt mess), but it otherwise has the same problems with othere cap and trade schemes which function more to maintain the status quo then force change (vis a vis the 75% payback which can be used to off-set the cost of producrs credits as much as to offset higher pricing for renewables).

        Futhermore, the 25% share for carbon reduction is rediculously inadequate and poorly focused to facillitate the scale of change required to meet the targets (which are admirably high). If you look at the detials of what this 25% is supposed to cover, it's completely incridicble that the funds generated (based on their estimates) would be adequate. And I also forsee the divison of such funds would become a political quagmire.

        A far simpler approach is carbon taxation with one share of proceeds going to feed-in tarrifs for carbon neutral power (until such time that market pricing stablizes, when subsidies can be phased-out) and the remainder going directly into programs to develop and deploy mass-transit and clean power infrastructure (including R+D).

        "Life immitates art, but takes license." - ko

        by koNko on Wed Jun 23, 2010 at 04:30:34 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I agree initial reduction targets are too low (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ivote2004, koNko

          It's the elegant simplicity of the mechanism that's most attractive, and unrealistically low targets can be adjusted upward once the mechanism with its rebates is in place and becomes familiar, and the critical nature of climate change become more apparent.    

          "These old Wall Street boys are putting up an awful fight to keep the government from putting a cop on their corner." - Will Rogers

          by Lefty Coaster on Wed Jun 23, 2010 at 12:06:17 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Actually, I agree with progressive targets (0+ / 0-)

            Because a lot of pumps need priming to ramp-up green technology and production capacity for infrastructure (unless the US is going to buy most of the hardware from foreign sources) and to build renewable generation capacity and smart grids.

            What I don't see is how the cap and divedend scheme promotes use of the proceeds to promote clean energy and in fact it could have exactly the opposite affect; if 75% of the value of credits is passed on to consumers it makes it that much eaier for the purchasers of credits to pass the cost down to consumers, which is possibly worse than cap and trade, which has already proven to be counter-productive. I've read through the bill and nothing stops that; also, the amount channeled to clean energy funding is small and spread so thin as to be virtually useless.

            A more diret means would be to tax carbon and split the proceeds into feed-in tariffs for clean power and technology/deployment funding of clean energy and mass transit.

            That has proven to work and is far more simple.

            I think the main attraction of this bill is to try to create a system that would be, in theory, "painless" for consumers, but I simply don't see how it will work to facillitate the actual creation of infrastructure by giving money to private citizens to spend as they wish - I don't see citizen groups banding together with their $1200 to build mass-transit.

            The bill has many good ideas and features in the detials, but the basic pricipe sounds like pie in the sky.

            "Life immitates art, but takes license." - ko

            by koNko on Wed Jun 23, 2010 at 09:11:32 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  CLEAR is simple, and would be very effective (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              koNko, Lefty Coaster, jamess

              All forms of carbon-based energy will become progressively more expensive.

              So there will be progressively more incentive for energy consumers to switch away from carbon-based energy supplies to alternatives.

              Producers of non-carbon alternatives will have the advantage of never having to buy carbon shares.

              So non-carbon alternatives will be progressively more attractive, as they become relatively less expensive.

              Because this dynamic will be predictable and reliable, investors will channel their investments toward where they believe future profits will be: in the non-carbon alternatives.

              The the genius of grassroots and entrepreneurial capitalism will be be able to recieve clear pricing signals, and allocate capital in a vastly better way than that of the existing centralized/entrenched/largescale-corporate capital markets, with their highly-dstorted pricing signals.

              The key to the whole enchilada is building the true costs into the price.

              As Moore's Law kicks in -- and it definitely will for photovoltaic electricity generation technologies and for intelligent electricity storage and transmission technologies -- renewable costs will fall exponentially, the relative advantage of solar power over fossil/fissile power will skyrocket, and the market will shift dramatically.

              During all this, the price of the old, polluting approaches will go up. Which is wonderful.

              But it takes time for investments in alternatives to ramp up, for production to ramp up, for distribution to ramp up, and for consumer adoption to ramp up.

              So during the transition, as prices rise for the old way and the new way is not yet sufficiently cheaply available, there is a need to cushion the impact on consumer pocketbooks. So the $1100/yr rebate to families will do exactly that -- take the pain out of the transition.

              Now, we can talk about the other side of the genius of this plan:

              If you are an average energy consumer, you'll approximately break even. So no big pain or worry.

              If you consume more energy than average, you'll see your costs go up -- incentivizing you to cut your energy use. Which is exactly what we want.

              If you consume less energy than average, you'll make money on this deal. You'll be paid (incented, bribed, rebated.... pick your word) to consume less energy. The less energy you consume, the more you profit.

              And at the greenest end of the spectrum - if your family bicycles and walks and doesn't use a car, and spends your time in nature and being with each other using energy-efficient technologies like computers and phones ... instead of driving all over suburbia from fast food joint to Walmart and going off to carbon-hog pastimes like dirtbiking and NASCAR, then you could pocket the entire $1100. Sweet.

              Doing well by doing good. That's how things ought to work! And the CLEAR act strikes me as simple solid way to make it so.

              -----

              Disclosure -- I came up with a very similar idea on my own, and was going to start pushing for it. Then to discover that 2 US Senators already were already steps ahead of me --- woot!

              #3: ensure network neutrality; #2: ensure electoral integrity; #1: ensure ecosystemic sustainability.

              by ivote2004 on Wed Jun 23, 2010 at 10:25:29 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Woot! (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                jamess

                "These old Wall Street boys are putting up an awful fight to keep the government from putting a cop on their corner." - Will Rogers

                by Lefty Coaster on Thu Jun 24, 2010 at 12:18:53 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  thanks ivote2004 for your enthusiam (0+ / 0-)

                I just tried to break it down into "plain English",  on another site.

                The basic concepts of the Clear Act, for the Average American:

                Imagine you had a chance to buy a 100 shares of Microsoft,
                back in the 70's when it was just a few bucks a share --

                Would you have become "share holder" in Microsoft then,
                given its obvious huge growth since then, until now?

                Well, we have such an opportunity again, with the Clear Act.
                People would become the "stake holders" in the newly-created "Carbon Shares" market,
                that dirty polluters must finally start paying for, by bidding and buying Carbon-permits, up front.

                Carbon-based fuel producers now must pay up front,
                for their right, for their Privilege to Pollute --
                that or figure out how to clean up their CO2 act.

                75% of what THEY pay, would go back to US,
                their customers, their ultimate "stake holders",
                to help us bear the costs of those Higher Prices,

                Energy producers will, no doubt, try to pass along to us,
                in the form of higher prices of Gas and Electric, etc.

                Any individual citizen that can reduce their Energy Consumption,
                gets to pocket the remainder of the Carbon Dividend "rebate" checks,
                for what ever else they might want, besides legacy energy.

                Carbon Reduction, will become the Next Microsoft, of this New Century --
                Do you want to get in on the "ground floor", of this huge new market --
                Or would you rather just let Wall Street, "handle all the details" again?

                We all know, how Wall Street can turn Gold, into Tinsel, if we let them --
                So why should we let them, screw up the Carbon Reduction Market, of the next century, too.


                The Kicker: Alternate Energy Companies, will get an instant competitive advantage,
                NOT having to bid on, and pay for, or pass along, the disgusting Right to Pollute!

                Pollution is NOT part of their Business Model -- so they get rewarded.

                And their foresighted Carbon-free customers -- still get to keep those Carbon-Dividend Checks that the Annual Carbon Auctions, will just keep on generating, until that future day when most Carbon-based fuels end up as a ancient bad memory ...

                Simply priced out of the Market.

                And then finally, the Planet can begin to heal.

                The press is impotent when it abandons itself to falsehood. --Thomas Jefferson to Thomas Seymour, 1807

                by jamess on Thu Jun 24, 2010 at 08:49:06 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  Please see my reply (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                jamess

                To your other post quoting the above.

                Appreciate furher discussion if you are inclined.

                "Life immitates art, but takes license." - ko

                by koNko on Thu Jun 24, 2010 at 09:27:43 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

    •  Cap and Trade (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ivote2004

      don't mean nothing

      if we never start Capping

      and we never start Trading.


      I'll "trade you" Park Place, for Marvin Gardens --

      any takers?

      The press is impotent when it abandons itself to falsehood. --Thomas Jefferson to Thomas Seymour, 1807

      by jamess on Wed Jun 23, 2010 at 08:38:48 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  asdf (0+ / 0-)

      80% by 2050 -- THAT, I did not know!

      Nobody knows that, and there is no reason to believe it.

      There is nothing in the bill to reduce emissions.

      That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt -

      by enhydra lutris on Wed Jun 23, 2010 at 08:45:10 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Close, but not perfect (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    koNko, journeyman

    I propose that the one string attached to the "rebate checks" is that the funds must be spent on things like solar panels.

    If the funds from a carbon tax are coming back to home owners, that money should not be spent on stretch Hummers and air conditioners.

    "Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living."

    by Casual Wednesday on Wed Jun 23, 2010 at 02:04:15 AM PDT

    •  That is one of the problems (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jamess, Casual Wednesday
      The 75% can be used to finance the cost of the tax (therby removing the pain) as for productive purposes to actually lower emissions.

      And, in fact, this potential for mis-use is enshrined in the principle of the bill as it states the purpose of these dividends is to protect consumers from the increase in cost to reduce carbon.

      So it is no different that tradition cap and trade schemes that do more to protect the status quo then promote change.

      Do you trust the general public, as individuals, to band together to create smart power grids and mass-transit systems with those dividends?

      BTW, I'm not sure is compelling people to use those dividends for something like solar panels would be much better or more effective because this is only workable in the case of homeowners, and solar panels alone will never reduce carbon to the extent necessary. I think there are other, better ways to pass such incentives to homeowners (including landlords) which help them finance such improvements if they care to make them, but the big money green investments are in distribution and transportation systems, and those are not built by individuals.

      "Life immitates art, but takes license." - ko

      by koNko on Wed Jun 23, 2010 at 04:43:18 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  As I explained above.... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        jamess

        All forms of carbon-based energy will become progressively more expensive.

        So there will be progressively more incentive for energy consumers to switch away from carbon-based energy supplies to alternatives.

        Producers of non-carbon alternatives will have the advantage of never having to buy carbon shares.

        So non-carbon alternatives will be progressively more attractive, as they become relatively less expensive.

        Because this dynamic will be predictable and reliable, investors will channel their investments toward where they believe future profits will be: in the non-carbon alternatives.

        The the genius of grassroots and entrepreneurial capitalism will be be able to recieve clear pricing signals, and allocate capital in a vastly better way than that of the existing centralized/entrenched/largescale-corporate capital markets, with their highly-dstorted pricing signals.

        The key to the whole enchilada is building the true costs into the price.

        As Moore's Law kicks in -- and it definitely will for photovoltaic electricity generation technologies and for intelligent electricity storage and transmission technologies -- renewable costs will fall exponentially, the relative advantage of solar power over fossil/fissile power will skyrocket, and the market will shift dramatically.

        During all this, the price of the old, polluting approaches will go up. Which is wonderful.

        But it takes time for investments in alternatives to ramp up, for production to ramp up, for distribution to ramp up, and for consumer adoption to ramp up.

        So during the transition, as prices rise for the old way and the new way is not yet sufficiently cheaply available, there is a need to cushion the impact on consumer pocketbooks. So the $1100/yr rebate to families will do exactly that -- take the pain out of the transition.

        Now, we can talk about the other side of the genius of this plan:

        If you are an average energy consumer, you'll approximately break even. So no big pain or worry.

        If you consume more energy than average, you'll see your costs go up -- incentivizing you to cut your energy use. Which is exactly what we want.

        If you consume less energy than average, you'll make money on this deal. You'll be paid (incented, bribed, rebated.... pick your word) to consume less energy. The less energy you consume, the more you profit.

        And at the greenest end of the spectrum - if your family bicycles and walks and doesn't use a car, and spends your time in nature and being with each other using energy-efficient technologies like computers and phones ... instead of driving all over suburbia from fast food joint to Walmart and going off to carbon-hog pastimes like dirtbiking and NASCAR, then you could pocket the entire $1100. Sweet.

        Doing well by doing good. That's how things ought to work! And the CLEAR act strikes me as simple solid way to make it so.

        -----

        Disclosure -- I came up with a very similar idea on my own, and was going to start pushing for it. Then to discover that 2 US Senators already were already steps ahead of me --- woot!

        #3: ensure network neutrality; #2: ensure electoral integrity; #1: ensure ecosystemic sustainability.

        by ivote2004 on Wed Jun 23, 2010 at 10:27:53 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Maybe I'm missing something (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RunawayRose, enhydra lutris, jacey
    But I don't see how this will work any better than Cap and Trade; in fact, it appears to promise everything and do nothing.

    Let me explain my concerns and then someone please come back to me to correct me if I'm wrong and to explain how this would actually work.

    First, 80% reduction by 2050 would require a massive effort to rebuild the US power infrastructure and transportation systems. I support and urge that to be done, and think it is not only essential to the environment but also the US economy. However, to do so will required a great deal of strategic planning and policy, and this bill seems not to address that at all, leaving it up to the free market.

    Second, the Cap and Dividend scheme seems to be the almost perfect system to maintain the status quo; charge energy producers a tax on carbon, which they can then pass on to consumers who can then use the dividends to offset the increased costs due to carbon pricing. Am I wrong? Is there something in this plan that ensures otherwise?

    Third, taking such an approach almost gaurentees something like mass-transit will never be built since it would depend on free-markets or, um, individuals to decide to finance, build and use it.

    It may be that the bill is well-intentioned, but honestly, I don't see how it would ensure what it aims to accomplish would actually happen.

    "Please, explain it to me like I'm a 5 year-old, I don't get it".

    "Life immitates art, but takes license." - ko

    by koNko on Wed Jun 23, 2010 at 03:31:01 AM PDT

    •  BINGO!! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      koNko

      But I don't see how this will work any better than Cap and Trade; in fact, it appears to promise everything and do nothing.

      That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt -

      by enhydra lutris on Wed Jun 23, 2010 at 08:46:51 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  "Please, explain it to me like I'm a 5 year-old" (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        koNko, jamess

        5 year-olds can be pretty smart.

        Let's break it down, step-by-step, into the economic pieces.

        All forms of carbon-based energy will become progressively more expensive.

        So there will be progressively more incentive for energy consumers to switch away from carbon-based energy supplies to alternatives.

        Producers of non-carbon alternatives will have the advantage of never having to buy carbon shares.

        So non-carbon alternatives will be progressively more attractive, as they become relatively less expensive.

        Because this dynamic will be predictable and reliable, investors will channel their investments toward where they believe future profits will be: in the non-carbon alternatives.

        The the genius of grassroots and entrepreneurial capitalism will be be able to recieve clear pricing signals, and allocate capital in a vastly better way than that of the existing centralized/entrenched/largescale-corporate capital markets, with their highly-dstorted pricing signals.

        The key to the whole enchilada is building the true costs into the price.

        As Moore's Law kicks in -- and it definitely will for photovoltaic electricity generation technologies and for intelligent electricity storage and transmission technologies -- renewable costs will fall exponentially, the relative advantage of solar power over fossil/fissile power will skyrocket, and the market will shift dramatically.

        During all this, the price of the old, polluting approaches will go up. Which is wonderful.

        But it takes time for investments in alternatives to ramp up, for production to ramp up, for distribution to ramp up, and for consumer adoption to ramp up.

        So during the transition, as prices rise for the old way and the new way is not yet sufficiently cheaply available, there is a need to cushion the impact on consumer pocketbooks. So the $1100/yr rebate to families will do exactly that -- take the pain out of the transition.

        Now, we can talk about the other side of the genius of this plan:

        If you are an average energy consumer, you'll approximately break even. So no big pain or worry.

        If you consume more energy than average, you'll see your costs go up -- incentivizing you to cut your energy use. Which is exactly what we want.

        If you consume less energy than average, you'll make money on this deal. You'll be paid (incented, bribed, rebated.... pick your word) to consume less energy. The less energy you consume, the more you profit.

        And at the greenest end of the spectrum - if your family bicycles and walks and doesn't use a car, and spends your time in nature and being with each other using energy-efficient technologies like computers and phones ... instead of driving all over suburbia from fast food joint to Walmart and going off to carbon-hog pastimes like dirtbiking and NASCAR, then you could pocket the entire $1100. Sweet.

        Doing well by doing good. That's how things ought to work! And the CLEAR act strikes me as simple solid way to make it so.

        -----

        Disclosure -- I came up with a very similar idea on my own, and was going to start pushing for it. Then to discover that 2 US Senators already were already steps ahead of me --- woot!

        #3: ensure network neutrality; #2: ensure electoral integrity; #1: ensure ecosystemic sustainability.

        by ivote2004 on Wed Jun 23, 2010 at 10:30:27 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Any progressive carbon pricing system does that (0+ / 0-)

          In theory. Cap and Trade also uses that principle.

          However, to restate the problems I see:

          :: Providing dividends back to consumers is very likely to have the unintended consequence of subsidizing the cost of carbon credits in the short to medium turm until carbon gets so expensive that it is cheaper to use renewables or a mix of renewables & nuclear/fusion/whatever. This is exactly what is happening with Cap and Trade; it becomes a system to support the status quo. In fact, this is one of he stated aims of the bill - to lower the cost of power to the consumer, but the question is, will we be sunsidizing carbon credits or clean energy? A far more simple and direct means to do this is to tax carbon - providing some releif to low income, low power consummers if needed, and to use the a significant fraction of the dividends to subsidize feed-in tarrifs until the price of clean energy becomes fundamentally cheaper (by increasing carbon taxation or technological development and scale of operation).

          :: Providing dividends to consumers will do little or nothing to promote the adoption of clean energy by consumers. At best, if consumers (in aggregate) receive only 75% of the value of carbon taxation, there is still a 25% short-fall so it cannot be looked at as a significant market stimulus or source of investment capital for clean energy or mass transit. At best, those consumers who consume very little power could realize a "profit" that could be applied to off-grid or grid connected renewables, weatherization or other conservation means but it is not going to finance an alternative system. Moreover, only a fraction of housholds actually have the opportunity to benifit from that; most city dwelers (who already consume less power) or renters would not have much opportunity.

          :: The 25% fraction devoted to promoting clean technology and deployment is, I believe, totally insufficient and spread too thin to be effective. If you read throught the bill (I have) you will find this fraction is allocated covering every concieveable need and hardship involved - are we really going to cover 90% of the problems with 25% of the budget? Also they way the bill reads, I forsee a quagmire of pork-barrel politics developing in the use of the proceeds, the scope is incredibly broad. A chicken in every pot is promised.

          :: The bill contains a lot of questionable loopholes including classification and exemptions for "proven carbon sequestering", something only pssible is carbon is extrated and reused, not stored.

          :: It is very weak on conservation and mass-transit is totally absent. Power conservation is the fastest and cheapist way means to reduce emissions in the short term and would benifit from targeted spending. And I have to say, unless the US builds a significant amount of mass transit, the power effciency of the transportation system will only incrimentally improve and if the general solution is EV Autos, the increase in demand for power will be prohibitively expensive in terms of power infrastructure required (only hydrogen can deliver the energy density required and localization of that is not yet proven to be viable). Perhaps transportation needs to be handled in other bills, but there is no consideration of transportation in this bill in terms of energy use and carbon emissions, and that is a very significant fraction of US emissions. So in veiwpoint of covering emissions, the only way it applied regulation is the credits required for production or importation of fossil fuel.

          It seems may people see this as a very progressive approach; give the people divendends from taxing the carbon they consume and they will solve the problem. I'm afraid I hold a contrarian view; this bill seems to be another case of blind trust in free markets. well, I don't trust consumers any more than corporations to manage that, in fact I trust them less because they have shorter attention spans, fewer resources and less organization.

          I think the reducing carbon emissions requires exactly the opposite; it needs a higher degree of government involvement in policy, planning and facillitation. Countries making better progress than the US are doing so for exactly that reason; they have created the strategies and programs to promote and deploy clean energy by government taking an activist and interventionist role, and doing so even without carbon taxation (at present) in many cases.

          All that said, I do find many good ideas in this bill that merit consideration and action; the authors have done a lot of homework to understand many of the issues and include them by reference or measures, so it could provide some valuable inputs. But I do feel the fundamentals are wrong; diverting the dividends to consumers doesn't provide them very much incentive to consume less power  and they are not equipped to use that money for viable solutions for the big problem, nor does it do any productive targeting. It is simply a tax cut to sugar coat a bitter pill.

          Will consumers build smart grids and mass-transit systems? Will power companies invest in clean generation as long as the dividends off set the cost of carbon credits?

          I seriously doubt it.

          One thing that must be understood about renewable energy is the financial fundamentals are completely different than fossil fuels; they have a high initial investment cost and a low operating cost because sunshine and wind and hyro are free. Thus, to build the systems, there needs to be policy to support short to mid-term investment in infrastucture on a fairly wide scale, and resructuring of invetment credits, capitalization and amoratization to incentivise utilities, because their downstream revenue streams are reduced because renewables are so cheap (not actually free, but very significantly cheaper then fossil fuels).

          Countries further down the path have learned this and their policies are worth study because some are succeeding to make the transition (but need to speed it up with carbon pricing).

          BTW, some here have criticized the bill as not having strict enough short-term targets, but I don't; I think they have got that about right because it will take a few years to hit the power curve on returns from investment in and development of infrastructure, so if the taxation is too heavey on the front end it's doomed to failure. If anything needs adjustment it might be the mid-term, but this aspect of the bill looks reasonable to me.

          Your thoughts?

          "Life immitates art, but takes license." - ko

          by koNko on Thu Jun 24, 2010 at 09:14:27 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  If you wish to decrease parking in red zones, you (0+ / 0-)

          raise the fines and increase enforcement. You do not tax tires on the theory that people will drive less, to preserve their tires, and thereby be at home more and hence in red zones less.  Now, read THIS

          Carbon goes into multitudes of things, and retail prices are not at all closely linked to costs of extraction. The statement that all forms of carbon based energy will increase in price needs to be corrected to "some carbon based products will increase in price". Probably pharmaceuticals, plastics and chemicals, initially. Producers and importers can pass the tax through in the wholesale price of bulk buyers from selected target industries only, and will.

          Nothing in the bill, whatsoever, imposes any limits on emissions, it only raises prices people will pay for some carbon based products, and or minutely reduces the profit margins of producers and importers.

          It also raises the specter that we will be taken to court (WTO) and be subjected to trade sanctions and trade wars, because this is clearly a revenue bill, not an environmental one. We will tax Nigerian oil and pay the proceeds to our citizens? That absolutely will not pass muster in the WTO. Anything we export to any country that sells oil to US will be reciprocally punitively taxed.

          That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt -

          by enhydra lutris on Thu Jun 24, 2010 at 09:55:38 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  PS - I forgot a couple of things (0+ / 0-)
          1. Adam Smith is dead and was wrong even when he lived
          1. Congestion pricing works some of the time, and fails miserably some of the time
          1. Non carbon based energy is currently very expensive for end users, and will become relatively more expensive as their disposable income decreases due to the inflation in the cost of pharmaceuticals, textiles, chemicals and the like. Any increase in energy costs will be multiplied so that the cost to the consumer will be several times the cost increase to the energy provider, all other carbon based goods will increase in price and also have a multiplier such that the cost to the consumer will exceed the cost to the producer, while the consumer will be rebated only a fraction of the base cost, which will be a much smaller fraction of the multiplied cost. The consumer will therefore have greatly reduced ability to buy the more expensive alternative energy. Meanwhile, there is no reduction in emissions. There might even be an increase in emissions, because they are not in any way limited.

          Here's how pass-throughs work. Company x (mfr) has a 20% markup on cost. It's energy cost goes up x$ and its material cost goes up y$. Its wholesale price then goes up by 120%(x+y). The retailer has a 15% markup, and the trucking company has a 10% markup. Trucker costs go up z$. Retailer sees 120%(x+y)+110%z increase in prices. Retailer increases prices, ignoring its own increased overhead and operating costs, 138%(x+y)+127%z. The consumer gets a rebate slightly in excess of 75%x, the excess consisting of 75% of the pure energy component, before all multipliers, of (y+z). Consumer disposable income plummets, because this happens to absolutely everything consumer purchases, from vitamins to underwear to carbon fiber windmill blades, which really skyrocket in cost.

          That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt -

          by enhydra lutris on Thu Jun 24, 2010 at 10:42:15 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  I would look for a bill that (0+ / 0-)

    promotes cheaper energy prices, not higher prices.  I didn't see any options for cheaper energy in your diary, only options for forcing hard working Americans to pay higher energy prices.  Now is not the time for that crap.  Maybe wait until employment and our economy is better before attempting to force us into higher energy prices.

  •  a comment (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jamess

    to help me track this down and read more slowly.

    I appreciate you parsing the details a bit. As you know, i'm still on the fence, but want something a helluva lot more than nothin.

    The best way to save the planet is to keep laughing!

    by LaughingPlanet on Wed Jun 23, 2010 at 06:55:58 PM PDT

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