January 15, 2009

TO:             Members of the U.S. House of Representatives

FROM:         Mary G. Wilson, President

RE:             Climate and Energy Policy

The League of Women Voters strongly urges you to take quick and strong action against global climate change.  Based on the best available science, we urge you to support a cap on greenhouse gas emissions for the year 2020 that is at least 20 percent below 1990 levels, without loopholes that will undermine the cap.  We also ask that you support a cap for the year 2050 that is 80-100 percent below 1990 emissions.

Global warming is a catastrophic threat to our environment, our health and our economy.  The scientific evidence is clear that climate change, caused largely by human emissions of greenhouse gases, is here now, already causing increasingly severe droughts and heat waves in some areas, intensifying floods and hurricanes in others, and triggering more wildfires.  Climate change can devastate crops, create drinking water shortages, displace millions of people because of floods and increase the spread of diseases like malaria. 

We believe that the United States, as the world’s largest per capita source of greenhouse gas emissions, must set a firm limit, or cap, on these emissions.  The cap must decline over time to meet pollution-reduction goals based on the best scientific information.  Enforceable interim and long-term goals are needed to compel early and effective action and guard against irreversible damage. 

Establishing the declining cap, based on science and without loopholes, is the single most important issue in climate change and energy legislation.  While there are many additional significant issues, no other is at the core of the climate change problem.  Without a scientifically-based cap on emissions, other public policies cannot hope to succeed in protecting against catastrophic damage to public health, the environment and economies around the world.   

An effective control program must avoid loopholes or any weakening mechanisms that undermine or make the cap unattainable, such as unenforceable offsets or “cost containment” and “safety valve” provisions that would allow sources to continue emissions at dangerous levels. 

It is our nation’s responsibility to take immediate action to curb the environmental and public health damages we are already experiencing from greenhouse gas emissions, as well as those that threaten the future vitality of the Earth.  We strongly urge you to support a cap on greenhouse gas emissions that is at least 20 percent below 1990 levels by the year 2020 and 80-100 percent below 1990 levels by the year 2050, without loopholes that will undermine the cap.