From Green Right Now Reports

Public Citizen has had a few choice words to describe the Kerry-Lieberman American Power Act unveiled Wednesday.

Public Citizen argues that the American Power Act benefits corporations more than consumers

Public Citizen argues that the American Power Act benefits corporations more than consumers

Energy program coordinator Tyson Slocum called the draft legislation a  “nuclear energy-promoting, oil drilling-championing, coal mining-boosting gift to polluters bill.”

Slocum’s blog, posted yesterday is based on a broad outline released just in advance of the final draft of American Power Act. He itemizes what Public Citizen, a champion of citizen’s rights and an advocate for sustainable energy, sees as the APA’s numerous flaws:

Excessive nuclear power incentives that burden taxpayers

  • Favoritism toward the nuclear power industry, that “prioritize(s) the needs of nuclear power corporations over the right of citizens to have full, public hearings about the risks and dangers of locating nuclear power plants in their communities.
  • “A jaw-dropping $54 billion” in loans guarantees for the nuclear power industry, despite the high risk of defaults.
  • A 10 percent investment tax credit for new reactors.
  • Tax and bond benefits for municipal power agencies that invest in nuclear power

The expansion of offshore oil drilling

  • It strongly incentivizes states to endorse offshore oil drilling by allowing them to keep 37.5 percent of oil and gas royalty money. “That’s like saying because more rich people live in California and New York compared to Mississippi and New Mexico, those higher-income states should be able to keep more federal dollars raised from income taxes. Royalty revenue sharing is patently unfair – especially because the disaster in Gulf shows that an oil spill does not respect state boundaries.

It leaves clean energy development to the free market, while retaining supports for coal and nuclear power

  • Section 1604 states that “voluntary” renewable energy markets are “efficient and effective programs”
  • Section 1431 will provide valuable emissions allowances for free to coal utilities pursuing “carbon capture and storage” or CCS – an untested, risky strategy that benefits the coal industry and is gobbling up a lion’s share of subsidies that otherwise could go to renewable energy development.
  • Section 1412 establishes a carbon tax paid by ratepayers and collected by utilities to fund CCS  with no money allocated to rooftop solar or energy efficiency investments.

Failure to build in consumer protections

  • Rather than follow President Barack Obama’s cap-and-dividend plan, which would require polluters to pay and then distribute 80 percent of the money directly to families through a tax credit, or the Cantwell-Collins CLEAR Act, which calls for distributing monthly checks to households from carbon fee money, the Kerry-Lieberman approach leaves industry in charge of any public payback. Their plan involves distributing valuable free (carbon pollution) allowances to utilities from 2013-2029, then requiring that utilities use the money “exclusively for the benefit of the ratepayers.” Without Congress won’t be defining “benefit”,  50 different state utility commissions will have to — and most would allow utilities to structure energy efficiency programs that benefit shareholders more than consumers.

The Kerry-Lieberman bill, concluded Slocum, “represents a missed opportunity”.

“By meeting behind closed doors, the lawmakers empowered corporate polluters to play an oversized role in influencing the legislation to the detriment of the climate and consumers. President Obama had it right when he successfully campaigned on a theme of making polluters pay and delivering benefits directly to households.”