Cantwell Briefs Democratic Colleagues on CLEAR Act

Reid asks Cantwell to brief colleagues on bipartisan climate legislation alternative


WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) briefed her Democratic colleagues on her bipartisan climate bill, which relies on the free market to find the least-costly ways to reduce greenhouse gases and build America’s clean energy economy. Part of her presentation included screening a two-minute video on the CLEAR Act. In the wake of the largest oil spill in U.S. history, President Obama and Senate leaders are focusing attention on the urgent need for legislation that sets out a path to a clean energy future. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) invited Cantwell – whose climate proposal is the only one introduced in the Senate with Republican support – to describe her proposal during today’s Democratic caucus meeting. Introduced last December with Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), the Carbon Limits and Energy for America’s Renewal (CLEAR) Act (S.2877), is a cap-and-dividend proposal that would reduce global warming pollution, spur job growth in clean energy technology, and return money directly to consumers. Majority Leader Reid has identified the CLEAR Act as one of three proposals that should receive serious consideration as the Senate moves forward with climate legislation. Senators John Kerry (D-MA) and Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) were also invited to present.
“Clean energy is a six-trillion dollar market opportunity and within five years China, Japan and Korea will be outspending the United States by three to one,” Senator Cantwell said. “Our goal is to pass legislation that helps us create jobs and puts the United States in a leadership position in clean energy technology.” Noting the Republican co-sponsorship of the CLEAR Act and the importance of reaching a 60-vote majority in the Senate,Cantwell said, “The fact that there is bipartisan support is a good indication that we can get there, but we have a lot more work to do.” 
Majority Leader Reid said: “I’m always focused on what is possible – that’s why I’m going to work with these ladies and gentlemen behind me.”
The Cantwell-Collins 39-page bill is a simple, transparent solution to our nation’s energy needs. It:
  • Establishes a predictable price on the carbon associated with fossil fuels, providing the business incentive needed to develop and deploy clean energy technology
  • Requires fossil fuel producers and importers to bid at auction for “carbon shares”, or permits, for every ton of fossil carbon sold into the U.S. economy
  • Regulates where it is most manageable – ‘upstream’ where it is produced by a few thousand entities, as opposed to downstream where it is emitted by tens of thousands
  • Achieves a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of 20 percent by 2020 and 83 percent by 2050, and
  • Provides fairness to consumers through monthly dividends which makes all low and middle income families whole.
CLEAR would set up a mechanism for selling “carbon shares” to fuel producers and would return 75 percent of the resulting revenue in checks to every American. This dividend would more than compensate for the increase in carbon-based fuel that producers would pass on to consumers. A typical family of four would receive tax-free monthly checks from the government averaging $1,100 per year, or $21,000 between 2012 and 2030. The remaining 25 percent would be invested in clean energy research and development.
For more background information on the CLEAR Act, click here.