Journal Express, Knoxville, IA

June 30, 2009

Boswell discusses "cap and trade" vote

Washington, D.C. — Editor's note: The paragraphs below come from Congressman Leonard Boswell. The Journal-Express had an exclusive interview with Boswell on Monday, regarding the American Clean Energy and Security Act, or "cap and trade" bill. Boswell voted in favor of the bill, which passed 219-212 in the US House of Representatives. Look for a full story on the bill and Boswell's interview in the July 3 Journal-Express.

My fellow Iowans, I would like to take a few moments of your time, if you will allow me, to talk to you about a very important issue – climate change.

I believe the science is clear: carbon dioxide emissions are contributing to unprecedented climate changes. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has warned repeatedly that unless the industrial world acts soon, projected increases in emissions over the next fifty years will lead to drastic ecological changes, endangering countless species and human health.

However, this challenge also presents an opportunity. Experts predict that by expanding efficiency strategies using existing technologies, we could eliminate more than twenty-percent of the world’s energy demand by 2020. In this time of economic uncertainty, we can put Americans back to work in green-collar jobs that reduce our energy use.

As many of you know the U.S. House of Representative recently passed the bi-partisan American Clean Energy and Security Act, also known as ACES. While this bill is not perfect, few usually are, I am proud that it will harness the most innovative workforce in the world to create a clean energy future, creating millions of jobs in the process. Energy independence is vital to our national security and economic future, and this legislation advances this goal while confronting the serious and real challenge of climate change.

While many have concerns with ACES, I believe Congress must act this year. In 2007, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that EPA was required under the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gases, including CO2. This spring, the EPA issued an "endangerment finding", signaling their preparation to comply with the court’s decision. Without Congressional action I believe EPA will move forward with regulation which would harm all Iowans, farmers, businesses, to include consumers.

Another reason I supported this legislation is we must break our bondage to OPEC. This bill uses market incentives to move away from carbon-based energy. It makes historical investments in clean coal and Smart Grid Technology. It will also help to bring more biofuels to the market place. In 2007, Congress passed an expanded Renewable Fuel Standard. This year EPA came out with the proposed rule to implement the RFS-2. In the proposed rule, the EPA opted to rely on unreliable assumptions and untested methodologies associated with international indirect land use changes to calculate the greenhouse gas emission profile of biofuels.

This proposed rule would penalize domestic biofuels production for unrelated land use decisions made abroad. ACES made a very important common sense change to ensure that the U.S. biofuel industry can continue to provide us with domestically produced renewable fuels.

Along that line, this legislation is important to national security. The Department of Defense is the largest user of renewable energy technology in the world. A report issued by 11 prominent former Generals and Admirals for the nonpartisan Center for Naval Analysis stated that climate change is a matter of vital national security.

This bill is also an economic issue for Iowa’s families. Estimates on ACES say more than 1.7 million new clean energy jobs will be created. We live in a global world and the future of that world will belong to the nation’s that develop renewable energy. China spends six times more on renewable energy than we do and Spain, Denmark, and Portugal produce more wind power than the United States. This bill incentivizes renewable energy production.

Finally, agriculture plays a pivotal role in ACES. After weeks of intense negotiations between members of the Energy and Commerce and Agriculture Committees a monumental deal was struck. There is a robust offset provision for agriculture and forestry producers which recognizes early adaptors. The offset program run by USDA creates a new market opportunity for farmers, ranchers and forestland owners who can play an important role in efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. Agricultural producers have been participating in conservation and carbon sequestration programs for many years, working to increase energy efficiency, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and support a renewable energy industry. This legislation recognizes those efforts and encourages these important activities.

News reports documented my early concerns with the bill. I made those objections known to Chairman’s Peterson and Waxman, and am pleased that over 90 percent were remedied. However, one key concern remains. As currently written, this legislation provides local distribution companies with allowances through a formula equally weighted between historic emissions and retail sales.

I fought to have the formula change to 100 percent of the allowances allocated to be based on historical emission. Since the intent of the legislation is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and the intent of providing allowances is to protect consumers from price increases, basing allowances on retail sales reduces the legislation’s effectiveness.

I have relayed my concerns to the Department of Energy’s Secretary, Secretary Chu and to Carol Browner, the President’s top advisor for Energy and Climate Change and while this issue was not fixed in the House passed version of ACES I have already been in contact with my colleagues in the Senate on this issue. I will continue to work to ensure Iowa is treated fairly by any energy and environmental legislation, and continue to work to ensure Iowa plays a prominent role in further negotiation.

I appreciate you taking the time to allow me to explain why I was proud to support the American Clean Energy and Security Act. I know it was quite lengthy. This legislation creates a new energy policy and address the global climate crisis. I am glad that this legislation preempts potentially devastating regulation by the EPA and am also proud that it would harness the most innovative workforce in the world to create a clean energy future, creating millions of jobs in the process. Energy independence is vital to our national security and economic future, and this legislation advances this goal while confronting the serious challenge of climate change.