Diary

Letter from Senator Ben Cardin on Cap and Trade

Dear Mr. Adams:

Thank you for contacting me about your concerns over a cap-and-trade bill. As a member of the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee, I believe that global warming is a major threat to both our nation and the world and that bold action is needed. Dramatically reducing our greenhouse gas emissions is essential to protecting the planet, the public’s health, and our national security. The good news is that a well designed cap-and-trade program can be a cost effective way to address this threat and help us to develop a clean and sustainable economy.

Many of American’s leading companies, including major manufacturers and utilities support cap and trade. The United States Climate Action Partnership is an alliance of major businesses that have come together to call on the Federal Government to quickly enact strong national legislation to require significant reductions of greenhouse gas emissions. They believe this step is necessary for our future economic prosperity even in our current economic circumstances. This partnership includes major companies such as General Electric, Deere and Company, DuPont, and PepsiCo.

The general consensus of the scientific community is that the effects of global warming are largely caused by increased carbon emissions produced by human activity. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change‘s (IPCC) most recent report confirmed this finding. The IPCC is a non-partisan organization comprised of top scientists from around the world. If left unchecked, the impacts of global warming – increased hurricane damage, real estate loss, energy and water costs – will cost our economy $1.9 trillion annually by the end of the century. While too numerous to list here, the national security and public health risks associated with climate change are troubling. The short and long term threats this poses to our economy and standard of living must be taken very seriously.

Unlike a carbon tax, the cap-and-trade model provides businesses and corporations with the most flexibility, enabling market-driven forces to minimize overall costs and achieve maximum efficiency in reducing emissions. This model has been successful in curbing other pollutants in the past. The Acid Rain Program, established under Title IV of the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments, utilized a cap-and-trade program and dramatically reduced sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions. The Environmental Protection Agency under President George W. Bush estimated the benefit-to-cost ratio of the sulfur dioxide cap-and-trade program at 40-1. Praised by businesses and environmental groups alike, cap-and-trade programs offer a pragmatic approach that meet both our economic and environmental goals.

This market driven program would provide incentives for businesses to invest, create jobs, and save Americans billions of dollars in the long term. Investments in clean energy will generate approximately 3 times as many jobs as the equivalent amount spent on carbon-based fuel. A recent report released by the Union of Concerned Scientists found that if emissions are reduced by 56 percent by 2030, the resulting savings on energy bills from reductions in electricity and fuel would produce net annual savings for households, vehicle owners, businesses, and industries of $255 billion. New incentives will lead to fruitful innovations, and help America become a world leader in a new manufacturing sector, allowing us to export our expertise, intellectual property, and products worldwide. The Political Economy Research Institute estimates that the passage of a cap-and-trade bill would produce 1.7 million new jobs 26,605 in Maryland alone. These jobs will be permanent, good paying, and will help rebuild our manufacturing sector.

I believe it is critical to Marylanders and all Americans that we pass legislation that moves our nation towards a greener economy and begins to reverse global warming. A cap-and-trade program offers a pragmatic, market-driven solution. I know that this crisis will allow Americans to do what we do best – overcoming a challenge through imaginative innovation. I believe that these policies will transform our economy, and position us to continue our global leadership for decades to come.

Again, thank you for sharing your concerns with me. Please do not hesitate to contact me again with this or any other issue of concern to you.

Please visit my website at http://cardin.senate.gov to sign up for my e-newsletter.