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Finally, the Senate Takes On Climate Change

May 29, 2008 - by Donny Shaw

In case you hadn’t heard, when the Senate reconvenes next week, they’ll be taking up a bill that, for the first time ever, would mandate economy-wide reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. Though historic, the bill, known as the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act, is basically dead on arrival. It may no have enough of support to pass the Senate, and even if it does, President Bush has threatened to veto it. Nonetheless, it will establish a precedent for next year’s Congress to start their own climate change negotiations from. With Democrats likely to gain seats in the House and Senate, and very possibly the presidency, a similar bill will be passed and signed next year, so even if the the progress made in the debate next week gets shelved, it will probably be revived and carried forth in the bill that eventually does becomes law.

In the past week, Barbara Boxer (D-CA), chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, has issued a revised version of the Lieberman-Warner bill (more details here) to be used as the starting point in the Senate’s debate. Boxer’s version makes several changes to the original bill, the most important of which deals directly with the most contentious and fundamental aspects of cap-and-trade: how much we will have to pay to reduce emissions.

Boxer’s version replaces the bill’s original safety valve, which would release more carbon credits into the market if they reached a certain price ceiling, with a cost-containment plan to auction off credits borrowed from future what will be available in the future to help alleviate short-term increases in cost. Kate Sheppard of Grist explains:

>This is the mechanism, also called an “emergency off-ramp,” that will automatically release additional emission allowances onto the market to lower the price of carbon credits, should prices reach a certain level. The full text of the bill states that the initial range in which that mechanism could be triggered is “no lower than $22 and no higher than $30” in 2012. From 2013 through 2027, the price will be previous year’s trigger multiplied by the sum of the annual rate of inflation and 1.05. (If you’re thinking “WTF?” you’re not alone.) These additional credits would be auctioned, and the proceeds would be used for direct emissions reductions. This is the part of the legislation likely to give greens the biggest coronary. Though it’s short of a “safety valve,” some groups have already expressed concern that this trigger is too low.

But other groups think Boxer’s cost-containment measure is an improvement. Climate Progress, a project of the Center for American Progress, has supported the idea since it was orginally proposed by a bipartisan group of senators proposed it last summer:

>So you want to have greenhouse gas standards with teeth, but you want to minimize the risk they take too big a bite from the economy. And, of course, like Climate Progress, you don’t like the safety valve idea. What do you do? Banking and borrowing of course.
>
>With “banking,” the right to emit carbon can be saved for future use. With “borrowing,” current emissions are extended against future abatement.
>
>What is fascinating is that today a detailed banking and borrowing proposal, “Cost-Containment for the Carbon Market,” was put forward by four moderate senators — Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) and John Warner (R-Va.) — with the help of Duke University’s environmental program.

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Comments

  • Anonymous 05/30/2008 8:15am

    The bill is here because Air Force wanted a new intelligence agency. They worked in the arctic with a bunch of countries. Climate change had to be acknowledged because of the dems and Gore. They made it a security issue and the Air Force got its new intelligence agency.

    We made a food commitment and look at the mess and the cost. 2050 is a long commitment. Of course, all the budgets are five years now……

  • Anonymous 06/01/2008 12:20am
    Link Reply
    + -1

    We made a food commitment and look at the mess and the cost. 2050 is a long commitment. Of course, all the budgets are five years now……
    ************************************
    senthil

    Suffering from an addiction. This website has a lot of great resources and treatment centers.
    http://www.treatmentcenters.org
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  • Anonymous 06/01/2008 12:25am
    Link Reply
    + -1

    We made a food commitment and look at the mess and the cost. 2050 is a long commitment. Of course, all the budgets are five years now……
    ************************************
    sekar

    Suffering from an addiction. This website has a lot of great resources and treatment centers.
    http://www.treatmentcenters.org
    **********************************

  • Anonymous 06/01/2008 5:57am
    Link Reply
    + -1

    Someone should be humble simple in it’s dealings with divine and redoubtable Americans.

    OC records who and where you post. Maybe they will give the data to someone who can help.

  • Anonymous 06/01/2008 6:53am

    The credit system isn’t understandable. Are credits allocated for free or is there a charge? If the bill is international, who collects on the credit allowances? Isn’t this a way to tax people globally and have the money be collected by a foreign power?

    The bill has allot of employees in it. How many Americans are getting jobs out this like PEPFAR and the farm bill? What department do they work for? This seems to be a foreign policy issue, but it’s an American security issue. The environment and public works committee is international? They run these programs in foreign countries?

    The bill is allot like the farm bill. The farm bills used to be American, like we had to subsidize farmers. This has gone international with the UN and US subsidizing foreign farmers. The committee will be subsidizing foreign energy producers and collecting credit taxes for the UN or another group?

    The safety valve reminds me of commodities trading and safety valves. Should we put a cap on prices where the government will buy the crops and credits? Should we investigate the CFTC and the new departments under this bill? What if the credit prices increase to a point where the US government can no longer purchase them from foreign countries?

    Isn’t US energy considered a national security issue? Isn’t this why we have all the ‘energy consultants’ working with foreign countries? How will the bill affect our relations with foreign countries?

    The bill won’t pass because the jobs are already there. Air Force and ‘energy consultants’ got new work and jobs. There aren’t enough new jobs in the bill and it just justifies the creations of the new agency and ‘energy consultants.’

    These foreign policy bills have to hire existing agencies, create new ones or hire more Americans because we’re spending 50 billion over five years, etc. We justify the foreign aid money with American jobs and explain that is why the recipients only get like 10% and the person getting the aid gets not much.

    The bill is allot like the other bills the House has come up with as Bush leaves and Congress overrides. These bills’ budgets are all doubled or tripled from what is requested and are long term five years or on their second five years of funding. The original bills created by Bush were for ‘emergencies’ that were long term, five years. This was used by the House to justify other ‘emergency’ five year bill funding and the budgets doubled or tripled to justify the hiring of more Americans. The bills had problems and then there were emergencies that had to be taken care of immediately with billions of dollars and will not solve the long term ‘emergencies.’ The food problem. Will this bill have the same problems if it is not passed and overrided? The long term ‘emergencies’ are not worth funding if we always have short term ‘emergencies.’ The 100s of billions are just cash and so are the short term ‘emergencies.’ The foreign aid is just being thrown away. The aid money doesn’t get to the people. The bill is the same.

  • futurebird 06/02/2008 7:03am

    There is not enough in this bill about mass transit.

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