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CU letter to Senator Boxer regarding S. 1733

November 5, 2009

The Honorable Barbara Boxer                                                        
Chairwoman, Environment and Public Works Committee
United States Senate
Washington, DC

Dear Senator Boxer:

Consumers Union, Consumer Federation of America and National Consumers League have worked for decades to protect consumers.  We applaud your leadership on S. 1733, The Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act (CEJAPA), and look forward to working with you to ensure this monumental legislation protects both environmental and consumer interests.  Consumers and the environment will benefit from a clean energy economy. 

S. 1733 provides important consumer protections.  We strongly support S. 1733’s inclusion of residential consumers in the direct pass-through of emission allocations from local distribution companies (LDCs).  Their inclusion dramatically strengthens consumer protection from potential abuse by LDCs and ensures that consumers actually gain from the allocation intended for their benefit.  We are also very supportive of the establishment of an Office of Consumer Advocacy and urge you to authorize dedicated funding for this important representation for consumers.

Returning revenue from allowance auctions directly to consumers via rebates or dividends is a critical means of moderating potential energy price fluctuations for consumers.  S. 1733 provides 15% of auction revenue directly to low- and moderate-income households to offset potential increases in the costs of energy and other goods and services.  While we strongly support the inclusion of moderate income households, we are concerned that the current allocation is insufficient to adequately protect low- and moderate-income households and should be increased.  

Increasing energy efficiency and diversifying the energy sector will provide consumers greater energy security and protect consumers against price spikes for energy derived from fossil fuels.  The public health benefits from cleaner energy generation also cannot be understated.  Efficiency and renewable energy mandates and funding for development of cleaner technologies will go a long way in easing the costs of a transition to a cleaner economy.  Strong building efficiency codes and appliance standards, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) funding and coordination, weatherization funding, and the Residential Energy Efficiency Project (REEP) program are all essential for moderating any increased energy costs for consumers and should be included in the Senate’s final energy package.  Your bill is a strong leap forward toward this worthy goal.

The costs of inaction are staggering—in contrast, a new comprehensive energy policy provides an enormous opportunity to develop a greener economy, increase consumer choice, and stabilize energy prices.  We thank you for your important work on these critical issues and hope to assist you in moving a strong bill forward in the coming months. 



Ellen Bloom, Director of Federal Policy, Washington Office     
Shannon Baker-Branstetter, Policy Analyst                            
Consumers Union, Washington Office                                                                

Mark Cooper
Director of Research
Consumer Federation of America

Sally Greenberg
Executive Director
National Consumers League


cc:     Senator John Kerry, Chairman of Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Senator Jeff Bingaman, Chairman of Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee
Senator Max Baucus, Chairman of Senate Finance Committee
Senator Blanche Lincoln, Chairwoman of Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee

For the letter in a PDF format, click here.