Cantwell, Collins Meet with President Obama, Senate Colleagues, on Clean Energy Legislation

Cantwell-Collins CLEAR Act only bipartisan climate bill under consideration

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Susan Collins (R-ME) joined Senate colleagues in a White House meeting with President Barack Obama to discuss a way forward on comprehensive energy and climate legislation. Cantwell and Collins are cosponsors of the Carbon Limits and Energy for America’s Renewal (CLEAR) Act, the only clean energy and climate legislation under consideration in the Senate with bipartisan support. Their bill, introduced last December, 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.


Under discussion at the meeting was the urgency of enacting energy and climate legislation this year in light of the pressing need and profound benefits of shifting to a clean-energy economy – urgency underscored by the ongoing oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The President told the Senators he believes the best way to transition to a clean energy economy is a bill that puts a price on pollution, making clean energy the profitable kind of energy for America’s businesses.   


“The CLEAR Act should be the basis for any comprehensive energy proposal because it is bipartisan, makes polluters pay, and protects all low and middle income families in each and every state,” said Cantwell.  “The CLEAR Act ensures that the free market, not government or special interests, is empowered to find the least cost ways to transition to a clean energy future.  I know that every Senator believes we need to act on energy, I am confident that the CLEAR Act’s principles of simplicity, transparency, and equity will appeal to key swing Senators and their constituents.”


“To achieve success in the Senate, clean energy legislation must be bipartisan,” said Senator Collins.  “Our bill positions the U.S. to be a leader in renewable energy and energy conservation technologies by placing predictable, straight-forward prices on carbon. It also helps protect consumers by returning 75 percent of revenues directly to American families and preventing speculation in the carbon market.”


At the end of the meeting, the President said that there was a strong foundation, with a consensus on some key policies and the President urged the Senators to come together based on that foundation.  Additionally, there was some agreement on the sense of urgency to move forward with the legislation. 


After the meeting, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid issued a statement saying, “Our resolve to act on energy legislation this summer remains strong.  We understand that the cost of inaction is high – the continuing disaster on the Gulf Coast is the latest glaring evidence that our current energy strategy is unsustainable.” 


The Cantwell-Collins 39-page bill, S.2877, is a simple, transparent way to gradually shift our nation away from fossil fuels by:

  • Establishing a predictable price on the carbon embedded in fossil fuels, providing the business incentive needed to develop and deploy clean energy technology
  • Requiring 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
  • Reduces greenhouse gas emissions 20 percent by 2020 and 83 percent by 2050 (over 2005 levels), 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.