- On May 15, HR 2454: American Clean Energy and Security
Act of 2009 (ACESA) was introduced in the House purportedly "To create
clean energy jobs, achieve energy independence, reduce global warming pollution
and transition to a clean energy economy."
- In fact, it's to let corporate polluters reap huge windfall
profits by charging consumers more for energy and fuel as well as create
a new bubble through carbon trading derivatives speculation. It does nothing
to address environmental issues, yet on June 26 the House narrowly passed
(229 - 212) and sent it to the Senate to be debated and voted on. More
on that below.
- On March 31, Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry
Waxman and Energy and Environment Subcommittee Chairman Edward Markey released
a "discussion draft" of the proposed legislation and falsely
- -- it's "a comprehensive approach to America's energy
policy that charts a new course towards a clean energy economy;" it
- -- create millions of clean energy jobs....that can't
be shipped overseas;
- -- put America on the path to energy independence;
- -- reduce our dependence on foreign oil;
- -- save money by the billions;
- -- unleash energy investment by the trillions;
- -- cut global warming pollution;
- -- strengthen our economy;" and
- -- make "America the world leader in new clean energy
and energy efficiency technologies."
- Strong-arm pressure, threats and bribes got the bill
through the House. Forty-four Democrats opposed it. Eight Republicans backed
it. Over 1200 pages long, few if any lawmakers read it.
- After passage, Chairman Markey said:
- "It's been an incredible six months to go from a
point where no one believed we could pass this legislation to a point now
where we can begin to say that we are going to send President Obama to
Copenhagen in December as the leader of the world on climate change."
- Speaker Pelosi praised the bill as "transformational
legislation which takes us into the future" and added that after passage
she took congratulatory calls from Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry
Reid and Al Gore. The former vice-president has long-standing ties to Goldman
Sachs (GS), and in 2004 he and David Blood, CEO of GS's asset management
division until 2003, co-founded Generation Investment Management LLC, a
firm likely to profit greatly from cap and trade schemes.
- In a prepared June 25 statement ahead of the House vote,
- "Right now, the House of Representatives is moving
toward a vote of historic proportions on a piece of legislation that will
open the door to a new, clean energy economy."
- After citing the same false claims as Waxman and Markey,
he called the legislation "balanced and sensible" and "urge(d)
every member of Congress - Democrats and Republicans - to come together
and support" it.
- Polluters love it. So does Wall Street and corporate-friendly
environmental groups like the Environmental Defense Fund. The opposition,
however, includes Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and Public Citizen.
- In a joint May 13 press release, they were "extremely
troubled (about) compromises to the already flawed American Clean Energy
& Security Act."
- It contains enough loopholes to make its claimed performance
standards worthless, one of which prohibits the EPA from using the Clean
Air Act to regulate future greenhouse gas emissions. That alone means they'll
proliferate beyond what new technology reduces on its own, and only then
if it's profitable to do it.
- On June 23, Friends of the Earth president Brent Blackwelder
- "Corporate polluters including Shell and Duke Energy
helped write this bill, and the result is that we're left with legislation
that fails to come anywhere close to solving the climate crisis. Worse,
the bill eliminates preexisting EPA authority to address global warming
- that means it's actually a step backward."
- A June 25 Greenpeace press release stated:
- "As it comes to the floor, the Waxman-Markey bill
sets emission reduction targets far lower than science demands, then undermines
even those targets with massive offsets. The giveaways and preferences
in the bill will actually spur a new generation of nuclear and coal-fired
power plants to the detriment of real energy solutions."
- On June 27, Public Citizen (PC) called the bill "a
new legal right to pollute (that) gives away 85 percent of (its) credits
to polluters. (It) will not solve our climate crisis but will enrich already
powerful oil, coal and nuclear power companies." PC wants polluters
to cut their emissions 80% below 1990 levels by 2050 and pay for credits,
not get them free. It also cited the American Wind Energy Association saying
that the renewable standard will deliver "effectively zero" new
- PC wants consumers protected, not charged a "carbon
tax....The bill doesn't, but should, provide money to help homeowners pay
for such things as weatherization or to receive rebates for rooftop solar."
Its main "consumer protection provision distributes free pollution
allowances to electric and natural gas utilities (on the assumption) that
the 50 different state utility commissions will redirect all that money
back to consumers." In fact, HR 2454 is a thinly-veiled scheme to
let companies profit from polluted air, in part financed by a consumer
- Big Coal gets a waiver until 2025. Agribusiness is exempt
altogether even though it's responsible for up to one-fourth of greenhouse
gas emissions. The nuclear industry will benefit hugely from the free allowances
provision. A leaked memo had Exelon, the nation's largest nuclear power
company, bragging that it will reap a $1 - $1.5 billion annual windfall.
- Overall, carbon trading is a scam, first promoted in
the 1980s under Reagan. Clinton made it a key provision of the 1997 Kyoto
Protocol. He signed it in 1998, but it was never ratified. As of February
2009, 183 nations did both, but independent scientists call it "miserable
failure" needing to be scrapped and replaced by a meaningful alternative.
- ACESA is about profits, not environmental remediation.
Its emissions reduction targets are so weak, they effectively license pollution
by creating a new profit center to do it.
- The Next Bubble
- Wall Street also will reap a huge bonanza through carbon
trading derivatives speculation exploiting what Commodity Futures Trading
commissioner Bart Chilton believes will be a $2 trillion market - "the
biggest of any (commodities) derivatives product in the next five years."
Others see a future annual market potential of up to $10 trillion based
on these schemes:
- -- government-issued cap and trading carbon allowance
permits to let polluters emit a designated amount of greenhouse gases;
those exceeding the limit can buy rights for more from companies below
- -- carbon offsets that let companies emit excess greenhouse
gases provided they invest in projects purportedly cutting them elsewhere,
either domestically or abroad; they can also fulfill their obligation by
stretching out investments for up to 40 years - far enough ahead to avoid
them altogether; and
- -- besides trading allowances and offsets, polluters
and Wall Street can play the derivatives game, including with futures contracts
for a designated number of allowances at an agreed on price for a specified
- According to Robert Shapiro, former Undersecretary of
Commerce in the Clinton administration: "We are on the verge of creating
a new trillion dollar market (through) financial assets that will be securitized,
derivatized, and speculated by Wall Street like the mortgage-backed securities
market" and all others that inflated bubbles that burst. If cap and
trade becomes law, this market will explode so Wall Street is pressuring
senators to pass it.
- According to the Center of Public Integrity (CPI), around
"880 total businesses and groups....reported they were seeking to
influence climate change policy" as addressed in HR 2454. Representing
770 of them are "an estimated 2340 lobbyists," a 300% increase
in the past five years, or more than "four climate lobbyists for every
member of Congress."
- In 2003, Wall Street employed none on climate issues.
CPI says it now has 130 representing the usual players like Goldman Sachs,
JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup and others, and why so is simple - to create
a huge new revenue stream to make up for ones lost with perhaps others
in the wings, thus far not revealed. Waxman - Markey delivered splendidly,
setting the stage for another bubble if HR 2454 becomes law with huge pressure
now on senators to assure it.
- Warning: Cap and Trade Bubble Ahead
- On July 1, Catherine Austin Fitts' Solari.com blog headlined
"The Next Really Scary Bubble" in stating:
- "If you think the housing and credit bubble diminished
your financial security and your community, or the bailouts, or the rising
gas prices did as well, hold on to your hat" for what's coming. "Carbon
trading is gearing up to make the housing and derivative bubbles look like
- She quoted Rep. Geoff Davis calling it "a scam,"
Rep. Devin Nunes saying it's a "massive transfer of wealth" from
the public to polluters and Wall Street, Rep. James Sensenbrenner stating
"Carbon markets can and will be manipulated using the same Wall Street
sleights of hand that brought us the financial crisis," and Dennis
Kuchinich citing "The best description to date (to) be found in Matt
Taibbi's....'The Great American Bubble Machine: From tech stocks to high
gas prices, Goldman Sachs (GS) has engineered every major market manipulation
since the Great Depression - and they are about to do it again.' "
- Taibbi calls GS the "world's most powerful investment
bank....a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly
jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money." It
operates by positioning itself "in the middle of (every) speculative
bubble, selling investments they know are crap."
- They control Washington and profit by extracting "vast
sums from the middle and lower floors of society with the aid of a crippled
and corrupt state that (lets it) rewrite the rules in exchange for the
relative pennies (it)throws (back as) political patronage."
- When inflated bubbles burst "leaving millions of
ordinary (people) broke and starving, they begin the entire process over
again (inflating new bubbles and) lending us back our own money at interest...."
They've been at this since the 1920s and are "preparing to do it again
(with) what may be the biggest and most audacious bubble yet" - a
new cap and trade derivatives scam written into HR 2454 with GS positioned
to profit most from it. Taibbi calls its market edge a position of "supreme
privilege (and) explicit advantage" ahead of all others on the Street.
- Contributing $4,452,585 to Democrats in 2008 (around
$1 million to Obama) was mere pocket change for what it can reap from scams
like cap and trade disguised as an environmental plan. The scheme was devised.
GS helped write it. The House passed it and sent it to the Senate. Unless
stopped, it will transfer more of our wealth to corporate polluters and
Wall Street on top of all they've stolen so far from derivatives fraud
and the imploded housing and other bubbles. And Goldman will lead the way
finding new ways to do it until there's nothing left to extract.
- Stephen Lendman is a Research Associate of the Centre
for Research on Globalization. He lives in Chicago and can be reached at
- Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and
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