Climate bills offer real benefits

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The United States needs comprehensive clean-energy and climate legislation to reduce carbon pollution, create jobs and increase our national security. Laurie Williams and Allan Zabel, the authors of the Oct. 31 op-ed "Cap-and-trade mirage," argue that extensive use of emission "offsets" will undermine these goals. But their argument ignored critical provisions of the bills moving through Congress.

Both the House-passed bill and the Senate bill would establish strict environmental criteria to limit offset credits to emission reductions that would not have occurred otherwise, and exclude credits for the most questionable practices. Credits for preventing deforestation specifically require accounting for any shifts in deforestation to other areas. Equally important, both bills include important requirements for energy efficiency, renewable energy and carbon dioxide capture, in addition to the overall emissions limit.

These provisions will help achieve cost-effective domestic emission reduction and reduce reliance on offsets. Finally, both bills include robust requirements to review and strengthen the offsets program over time.

Daniel A. Lashof, Washington

The writer is director of the climate center of the Natural Resources Defense Council.

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