Media contact: Eric de Place, 206-447-1880, ext. 105, [email protected]

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In 2009, Washington and Oregon legislators will be writing comprehensive climate policy for their states.  If done right, it has the potential to speed the region’s transition to a clean energy economy and set real limits on global warming pollution.

But how do you do it right? How do you make it effective? How do you make it fair to low-income folks who are most vulnerable to the effects of global warming and to volatile energy prices? Can it be a progressive economic strategy?

That’s the topic that Sightline climate policy expert Eric de Place covers in this 20-minute webinar on “Cap and Trade in 2009,” originally recorded for an audience of Northwest journalists.

Key quotes from Cap and Trade 2009:

  • On what cap and trade is: “Cap and trade is policy to reduce the emissions that cause global warming. But it’s a mistake to think that that’s all it does. Because the emissions that cause global warming are emissions from fossil fuels. When we put a cap on fossil fuels, we are embarking on energy policy, an energy policy that gets us away from volatile fossil fuel prices and changes our energy economy to be more about efficiency and clean energy sources”
  • On fairness:“When we evaluate any public policy, we should bear in mind that the public interest should be number one. If we want to make public interest number one in cap and trade, the way we want to distribute permits is a very important question. And the fairest way to do it is through an auctioning system.””If we give away permits for free and if corporations that take those permits reap windfall profits, it’s possible that cap and trade will be economically regressive on the other hand, if we auction those permits and return those proceeds to consumers, cap and trade can be the most progressive economic policy since the New Deal. It can be very good for low-income consumers. It can also be good for the middle-class.”
  • On cap and trade done right:“When cap and trade is done correctly, we can see all kinds of terrific benefits. When it’s done right, it is the most progressive economic strategy since the New Deal. Dirty energy can get more expensive in a cap and trade program, but clean energy gets cheaper when we invest in cleaner, renewable sources of power—wind, solar, geothermal, etc.””Most importantly, perhaps, it puts the public in the driver’s seat of energy prices. We cannot control global fossil fuel commodities now. It’s whiplashing family budgets and our economy. We can move away from volatile fossil fuel sources and begin to transition ourselves away from dependence on fossil f and toward local sources of power.”
  • On energy and purchasing power: “What we’re seeing in the fossil fuel economy is a steady erosion of purchasing power. People are falling behind and those burdens are falling very hard on lower and middle income people. Unless you are truly in the ultra rich category, energy prices have been quite harmful to most peoples’ purchasing power. It’s in that context that we need to evaluate how we transition away from fossil fuels. Because business as usual is not a strategy for protecting economic equity.”
  • On the importance of the cap: “The cap is a policy commitment to steadily reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and it’s a platform for launching a green energy economy. Once we’ve made legally binding commitment to get away from we can being to make serious and long term and predictable investments in a cleaner energy future and one that is also fair for the middle class.”

More information

January 21, 2009