EDITORIAL: ACES is aces

The U.S. House of Representatives can take the first step towards saving our planet and reviving our economy by passing the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES).

This bill has the broad support of labor and environmental coalitions, including the Blue-Green Alliance, SEIU, Sierra Club, League of Conservation Voters and many more.

The bill, if implemented, would do three basic things.

First, it would create an auction system for selling carbon emission credits to companies that emit the most greenhouse gases that are known to cause global warming.

Much like the successful 17-year-old auction system on acid rain-causing pollution that has reduced sulfur dioxide emissions by 50 percent, this new system would help reduce carbon emissions by an estimate 17 percent over the next decade and much more further down the road.

The auction system would generate billions in revenue designated for investment in renewable energy alternatives and green jobs. The Center for American Progress estimates that with investments in ACES and in the president’s recovery act, an estimated 1.77 million jobs in the renewable sector could be created.

With 6 million jobs lost since the Bush recession began in December 2007, these investments are needed to put Americans back to work. Many of these jobs will be in the manufacturing and mining sectors. Auto plants closed in the Midwest could be easily converted to build solar panels, wind turbines, new energy efficient batteries and the various parts for the industry. A single wind turbine, for example, has approximately 8,000 parts, much of them steel.

Third, the bill reduces U.S. dependence on oil and other fossil fuels, weakening Big Oil and Big Coal’s monopoly on energy. The investments in renewable energies will speed up the manufacture of green vehicles. With new energy efficient batteries, for example, plug-in hybrids might rapidly replace gas-guzzling cars. Wind and solar power generated electricity would reduce reliance on coal-fired electricity plants.

In the end, a diversity of energy resources reduces the threat of global warming and provides for investments in new, innovative economic activity. It would also make the United States more energy self-reliant, making the imperialist tactic of securing energy sources with military interventions overseas increasingly obsolete.