Physicians Take a Socially Responsible Stand on Lieberman-Warner

The Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) have stepped in with a strong statement about the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act's inadequacies and requirements for strengthening it.

"In June the U.S. Senate will begin debate on legislation to address global warming. The Climate Security Act, S. 3036, fails to meet the scientific targets that will be necessary to avoid the worst affects of climate change".

Absolutely. The Coal Subsidy Act fails to meet any reasonable definition of scientific targets, despite Barbara Boxer's misleading claim that this follows scientific advice. Even while PSR comes out stating that Lieberman-Warner is inadequate, they fall short of its true inadequacy. From PSR:

"The bill would have the U.S. reduce emissions at affected facilities by approximately 19 percent in the next decade and then continue on a declining path after that. Unfortunately, this would be well short of the earlier goals of reaching a 20 percent reduction below 1990 levels that PSR has supported based on the best modeling data and scientific information available".

Sadly, this is not the case, this is the propaganda rather than reality of the implications of Lieberman-Warner. PSR hints at this:

"In addition, there are several mechanisms that would allow the president to suspend the bill but no direction for the EPA to strengthen pollution controls if the U.S. discovers it is falling behind in reducing greenhouse gas emissions".

Just how bad is Lieberman-Warner? New analysis suggests that it is quite possible (if not probable) that the LW CiSA would not cut US CO2 emissions until after 2025. This is not as disastrously bad as Bush's laughable (despicable) concept of voluntary constraints for ending the growth of US emissions by 2025, but it is disastrously close to it. Rather than the claimed (and inadequate) reduction of emissions by 20 percent from today's levels by 2020, the BLW's offset provisions and cost-containment measures would enable pushing off (ANY) reductions until almost two decades from now. A 20 year delay in meaningful reductions is beyond insanity, it would be reckless endangerment of our collective future (as Americans and humans). If enacted into law, Lieberman-Warner would almost certainly doom us to catastrophic climate change. Now, PSR is calling for stiffening of the bill.

• Fewer giveaways to polluters — too many free allowances are given to the fossil fuel industry, especially coal. PSR will support amendments to reduce these allowances and require tighter pollution controls as criteria for being eligible for allowances.

How many fewer giveaways to serial polluters would make this acceptable?

• Scientific certainty — the greenhouse gas reductions called for in the bill are a starting point, but they fall short of the necessary goals. PSR is calling on the Senate to include a certainty provision that would allow the EPA to tighten controls and shorten reduction periods in order to avert the catastrophic consequences of climate change.

Excellent idea, this directly addresses inadequacies and Lieberman-Warner's provisions that only allow weakening the cap on emissions and no path for strengthening it.

• Public health adaptation — though the bill has a focus on international adaptation needs, little is done to protect public health in the U.S. PSR is working to have language added to the bill that would provide funding for emergency management, public health needs and hospital services necessary as a result of global warming.

It is certainly appropriate that PSR should raise this point. Sadly, this statement comes at a late moment, just days before this bill (sadly) goes to the Senate floor. And, people might have reason to be confused ... Several months ago, PSR leadership stood behind Barbara Boxer as part of an environmental organization phalanx seemingly giving support for Lieberman-Warner. While PSR states that Lieberman-Warner's targets are inadequate, suggest that its inadequate targets might be undercut, and make suggestions as to what Senators can do to strengthen the bill, they are still calling for actions to strengthen the bill ... as if that has any chance of occurring with the current political situation.

"While the bill and likely substitute amendment offered by Senator Boxer would initiate the first step in placing a declining cap on greenhouse gas emissions so the United States can do its part to reduce the impacts of global warming", ...

No, this bill is not a reasonable first step, but a disastrous trap that would inhibit meaningful action while providing windfall profits to serial polluters, picking the pockets of ordinary citizens.

"This legislation needs to be the cornerstone for U.S. efforts and it must be effective if we are to confront climate change in a serious manner".

This statement is simply contradictory. "This legislation needs to be the cornerstone"??? Even with its utter inadequacies? Oh, "it must be effective". Does anyone seriously expect serious strengthening of the bill in the coming week? Thus, even within the physicians' socially responsible statement, PSR fails to take the full step of stating the utter inadequacy, no, the reckless endangerment that Lieberman-Warner represents. This bill is beyond fixing, it is time to follow Friends-of-the-Earth's advice: Ditch It! This bill is worse than simply a distraction. The right move for the Senate leadership is to ditch Lieberman-Warner, before it goes to the floor, stating the utter inadequacy of this bill in light of the challenges the nation and globe face. We should DITCH IT and give Senator Barbara boxer the chance to work with Congressman Markey and President Obama to figure out a saner approach toward navigating this nation (and the globe) through the perfect storm of Peak Oil and Global Warming. Further Reading:

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  • Posted on June 1, 2008. Listed in:

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