Sunday, May 16, 2010

Quiz: Is The Senate Climate Bill Right For You?

Dave Rochlin -

Is the recently released senate climate bill right for you? Take the quiz below to assess where you stand on the Kerry-Lieberman climate bill, AKA "The American Power Act", announced last week.

The bill's intent is "To secure the energy future of the United States, to provide incentives for the domestic production of clean energy technology, to achieve meaningful pollution reductions, to create jobs, and for other purposes."

It sounds like there's something for everyone, right? At almost a thousand pages, there should be! But opinions vary. In trying to placate enough constituents to get a viable bill, a lot of trade-offs have been made. Can you accept them? Take this handy quiz and find out....and tell us what you think and how you scored! If you don't want to do the math by hand, an interactive version is available here.

The Quiz:

1. I Believe 350 Is:
a. A great temperature for baking cookies.
b. A noble but unachievable goal.
c. The upper limit for a safe and just planet (e.g. 350 parts per million of CO2)

2. My View On Offshore Drilling:

a. States should be able to decide.
b. Three words: "Drill baby drill.
c. Two words: Deepwater Horizon.

3. Carbon Offsetting:
a. The best way to make an immediate impact on climate and support sustainable development.
b. A flawed tool, but with fixes should be part of the solution.
c. Is like paying someone else to not have an affair so you can.

4. Nuclear Power:
a. Three words: Fission baby fission.
b. Ugh. Painful to consider but necessary.
c. Think Chernobyl, and where exactly do you plan on storing the waste?

5. International Cooperation:
a. If China doesn't do their part, what's the point?
b. If we lead others will follow.
c. The free market will sort it all out.

6. Agribusiness:
a. US agriculture needs help, not regulation.
b. Paying farmers/ranchers to follow better environmental practices makes sense.
c. "Sustainable agriculture" does not mean subsidizing beef and big farms.

7. Climate Change and Jobs:
a. Green jobs are the future.
b. Climate legislation is a job killer.
c. The free market will sort it all out.

8. Pricing Carbon:
a. Let's discourage emissions, but without punishing consumers or businesses.
b. Fossil fuel is a's time for a sin tax.
c. The free market will sort it all out.

Your Results:

Give yourself 3 points for each "a" answer, 2 points for each "b" and 1 Point for each "c".

19-24 : This bill fits you like your favorite pair of blue jeans.
15-19 : Life's full of trade offs. You'll take the good with the bad.
0-14 : You take comfort knowing that the bill probably won't pass anyway.

If you scored 15 or more, you may want to encourage your senator to support the bill here.

More information on each question and how we based our scoring is listed out below.

How We Based Our Scoring:

1. 350: The bill seeks to cut emissions by 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020 and by more than 80 percent by 2050. These goals are consistent with what was promised by the President in Copenhagen, but fall well short of both UN targets and what is necessary to reduce CO2 concentrations to 350 ppm.

2. Offshore Drilling: The bill encourages off shore drilling, but the states can opt out if it is within 75 miles of their coast. It gives states over 1/3 of the revenue to protect their coastlines, and money for land and water conservation.

3. Offsets: Up to 2 Billion tons of offsets could be used for hitting reduction targets, emphasizing forest preservation and carbon sinks, and waste/agricultural changes both domestically and internationally. Includes additional oversight for offsets.

4. Nuclear Power: A very heavy emphasis is placed on nuclear power. Increased funding for nuclear loan guarantees to $54 billion, and provisions for tax credits for construction of new facilities.

5. International Cooperation: The bill stipulates that, in the event that no global agreement on climate change is reached, an international reserve allowance program would be implemented. This would require that imports from other countries that have not taken action on emissions pay a comparable amount at the border in order to avoid "carbon leakage."

6. Agribusiness: Farms are exempted from mandatory action. The bill would create agricutural revenue through a domestic program that lets agricultural interests receive credits if they make reductions in emissions, which could then be sold into the offset/permit market.

7. Climate Change and Jobs: While proctionalism has been a concern, offshoring of emissions intensive industries (aka "climate leakage") is also a concern. If no global agreement on climate change is reached, the bill would require that imports from other countries that have not taken action on limiting emissions pay a comparable amount at the border. In addition to protecting domestic jobs from climate leakage, the bill proposed spending on retraining of workers and developing "emerging careers and jobs in the fields of clean energy, renewable energy, energy efficiency, climate change mitigation, and climate change adaptation."

8. Pricing Carbon: The bill would set a price on carbon ($12-$25 per ton), but would give away plenty of permits to business, potentially send revenues back to consumers in the form of energy rebates (or use the money for defiect reduction), and protect low and middle-income families.

The full text of the bill can be found at

You can support senate action at

Photo Copyright: Question marks from: / CC BY-SA 2.0 American Power Act logo from the office of Senator John Kerry. Combined photo work by ClimatePath, all rights reserved.


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