Together -– Or Else (Rep. Jim McDermott)

In my opinion, no one member of Congress is going to produce the singular idea that solves the crisis we face as a country and world from climate change, but one Congress united behind a commitment to save the planet can meet the threat to our very survival.

It is going to take a lot of ideas and yesterday I introduced The Clean Environment and Stable Energy Market Act of 2009, HR 1683, that would reduce emissions 80 percent by the year 2050. As a Member of the Ways and Means Committee, I propose a solution that addresses the issue from the prism of financial impacts -- providing a price signal for producers of greenhouse gas emissions to change to newer, clean technologies, and at the same time, provide a stable market that encourages the significant investments that will be required to transform America.

In brief, here’s how it would work: Producers of products and resources that emit greenhouse gases would be required to purchase a Federal Emission Permit. We establish a cap through permits that would be available in an increasingly limited supply. The price for a permit would be established by the Secretary of the Treasury and periodically calibrated to ensure that demand for the permits does not exceed an annual, national allocation. My legislation would reduce greenhouse gas emissions and avoid creation of a carbon derivatives market that could turn a potential energy solution into energy market chaos.

Especially when you think about the Enron debacle and the sub-prime crisis, where market speculation and manipulation were rampant, I think it is imperative that we recognize the role a stable market, price signals and price certainty play in solving the crisis.  HR 1683 would enable producers of greenhouse gas emissions to plan and change, because they can calculate their costs and return on investment as they reduce their carbon footprint. At the same time as establishing a firm cap on emissions, we provide some price certainty would be an incentive for investors in renewable energy production projects.

I am pleased that upon introduction, Brent Blackwelder, president of Friends of the Earth said, "We offer our strong support for the approach presented in the Clean Environment and Stable Energy Market Act to set stable carbon prices while maintaining firm emission reduction targets." For my part I’m ready to participate in a vigorous and serious debate about my bill and the other ideas to address the crisis.

The clock is ticking down and we are dangerously close to a tipping point when reversing the effects of greenhouse gas emissions on the planet may be out of our control. If there was ever a time to stand together, this is it, because standing alone will not address the crisis or save the planet.