America's Climate Security Act of 2007

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Background

Following the introduction and debate of several bills aimed at combating climate change, Sens. Joe Lieberman and John Warner announced in August 2007 they would introduce a bill containing a cap-and-trade system for limiting greenhouse gas emissions.[1]

On October 18, 2007, Lieberman and Warner introduced S. 2191, America's Climate Security Act of 2007. The bill was the ninth to be introduced since the beginning of 2007.[2]

Bill Summary


  • Capping greenhouse emissions: The bill would impose emission limits on electric utility, transportation, and manufacturing industries.[2]
    • Between 2005 and 2012: The bill caps emissions at 5200 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent, the estimated levels during 2005.[3]
    • Between 2012 and 2020: Further reductions of 2 percent per year should result in a 15% reduction below 2005 levels.[3]
    • Between 2020 and 2050: Emissions should be reduced by 70% by 2050.[3]
  • Transition assistance: To smooth the way for companies and individuals, the Lieberman-Warner bill includes financial incentives for reducing emissions
    • Low- and middle-income families: The legislation calls for $350 billion in assistance for low- and middle-income families though 2030.[4] The money would come from programs such as the Low Income Weatherization Assistance Program.
    • Modernization assistance: The legislation provides $500 billion through 2030 for investments in zero- and low-carbon technologies.[4]

Bill Progress

Subcommittee Passage

On November 1, 2007, the Subcommittee on Private Sector and Consumer Solutions approved the measure, and recommended it to the full Committee on Environment and Public Works. During the subcommittee hearing, Sen. Bernard Sanders tried unsuccessfully to modify substantial portions of the bill, with only one proposed amendment accepted. He had attempted to "strengthen the auction of pollution allocations, lower the cap on emissions, earmark subsidies for renewable energies, demand accountability from the auto industry, and diminish industry's capacity to stall simply by buying carbon offsets."[5]

Approval in Environment and Public Works Committee

Warner joined Democrats and Lieberman in approving the legislation on December 5, 2007, following a day of debate in the Environment and Public Works Committee.[6] According to one report, Republican Sens. Jim Inhofe (Okla.) and Larry Craig (Idaho) offered 150 amendments to the act.[7] In addition, The Mercury News reported that opponents "failed to amend the bill with a provision that would end the emissions caps unless China - about to become the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases - adopted similar restrictions within 10 years." Inhofe said the bill would cost 2.3 million during the next 10 years.[8]

Some groups and lawmakers remained skeptical that the bill would do enough to curb emissions. A representative of the Union of Concerned Scientists said the bill was a "strong foundation" but, expressed a desire for tougher measures:

If we are to have a fighting chance to avoid the worst effects of climate change, the United States has to cut emissions by 80 percent from current levels by the middle of the century.[8]

The committee approved the legislation by a 11-8 vote. However, S.2191 never came to a vote in the Senate. [9]

Boxer introduces similar bill

On May 20, 2008, Sen. Barbara Boxer introduced a related bill, the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act of 2008 (S.3036).

Summary

Debate centered on a version of the bill introduced as an amendment in early June. According to Project Vote Smart, this bill would:

  • Starts to cap carbon emissions at 5,775 million units in 2012 and reduces that amount by 70 percent to 1,732 million units by 2050 (Sec. 201).
  • Establishes a Greenhouse Gas Registry to monitor emissions in the U.S. that includes methods for avoiding the double-counting of emissions, protocols to prevent any avoidance of reporting requirements, and methods to verify and audit submitted data, and establishes consistent policies for calculating carbon content and greenhouse gas emissions for each type of fossil fuel reported (Sec. 102).
  • Establishes a market for carbon emission allowances that provides holders with the ability to freely trade, transfer, or sell allowances (Sec. 401, 402, 411, 412).
  • Allows owners or operators of entities that fall under the emissions caps to borrow up to 15 percent of their emissions allowances from the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) (Sec. 511).
  • Requires the Administrator of the EPA to hold an annual carbon emission allowance cost-containment auction from 2012-2027 that is separate from other emission auctions and limits prices to $22-$30 per allowance for 2012 with readjusted prices each subsequent year (Sec. 522, 523, 526).
  • Requires states that rank in the top 20 for annual usage of home heating oil to use at least 5 percent of the state's emission allowances to prevent consumers from suffering hardship due to increases in home heating oil prices (Sec. 614).
  • Allows the Climate Change Technology Board to auction a percentage of emissions allowances to fund awards to pay up to 30 percent of manufacturer costs for reequipping, expanding, or establishing manufacturing facilities in the U.S. that produce qualifying advanced technology vehicles, qualifying components, or engineering integration of qualifying vehicles and components (Sec. 1115).
  • Establishes the Efficient Buildings Grant Program to provide grants to owners of buildings that are newly constructed highly efficient buildings with a minimum score of 75 from the Energy Star program or to owners of existing buildings that have been renovated to increase efficiency by 30 points or more until 2012 when emissions allowances start being distributed to reward construction or improvement of high-efficiency buildings (Sec. 111, 801, 802).
  • Creates the Super-Efficient Equipment and Appliances Development Program to provide grants to retailers and distributors for increasing sales of high-efficiency building equipment, consumer electronics, and household appliances until 2012 when emissions allowances start being distributed to reward retailers and distributors for increasing sales of high-efficiency products (Sec. 112, 811, 812).
  • Authorizes $2 billion in appropriations from fiscal years 2009-2011 for funding international capacity building programs that develop methods and programs to measure greenhouse gas emissions and reductions, assess technology and policies for greenhouse gas mitigations, and provide other forms of technical assistance; and requires the Administrator of the EPA to regulate the acceptance and issuance of carbon emission allowances to foreign countries or entities (Sec. 114, 202, 302, 321, 322 ).
  • Allows the auction of a percentage of carbon emissions allowances to grant additional funding to programs to help people transition to a fuel efficient economy, create a tax initiative program to prevent higher energy costs, and fund EPA programs for habitat conservation, species protection, and non-emergency wildland fire suppression (Sec. 532, 535, 541-542, 561-562, 581-582, 585, 1202, 1211-1212, 1222, 1231, 1233-1236).[10]

Cloture vote fails

On June 6, 2008, an attempt to invoke cloture on the amendment failed by a vote of 48-36.


Same for all scorecards:

Scored vote

Scorecard: Americans for Democratic Action 2008 Senate Scorecard

Org. position: Aye

Description:

"Motion to invoke cloture and limit debate on the Boxer (D-CA) amendment to cap greenhouse gas emissions nationwide and set up a trading system for companies to buy and sell emissions allowances. Failing to receive 60 votes, Motion rejected 48-36. June 6, 2008"

(Original scorecard available at: http://www.adaction.org/pages/publications/voting-records.php)

Scored vote

Scorecard: Drum Major Institute 2008 Senate Scorecard

Org. position: Aye

Description:

"Human-caused climate change increasingly threatens Americans’ standard of living. The scientific consensus is that Americans risk more heat-related deaths, increased risk of disease, more extreme weather, and disruptions in population growth at the local level due to climate change. An American economy built on greenhouse gas emitting fossil fuels is unsustainable. By setting meaningful, yet achievable, goals for emissions reduction, the Climate Security Act is an important step to reorient the American economy towards sustainable growth. Though change will likely bring increased energy prices, the legislation appropriately directs funds to programs that will mitigate the pain felt by consumers and individuals working in affected industries. In particular, the creation of the Climate Change Worker Training and Assistance Fund is a forward-looking measure that will help American workers adapt to jobs that not only support energy efficiency, but pay solid wages as well. Funds to encourage energy efficient technology and mass transit projects are a further demonstration of a commitment to a sustainable and efficient economy."

(Original scorecard available at: http://www.drummajorinstitute.org/library/report.php?ID=87)

Scored vote

Scorecard: League of Conservation Voters 2008 Senate Scorecard

Org. position: Aye

Description:

"Today, America faces the unprecedented challenges of confronting global warming as well as solving the current energy crisis. Both problems require a rapid transformation of our energy future to greater energy efficiency and clean, renewable energy. Scientists warn that we only have a brief window to act in order to stave off the worst impacts of global warming, such as increases in hurricane intensity, forest fire frequency and intense rain storms. Global warming is endangering water supplies, public health, agriculture, infrastructure, our natural environment, and threatens to reduce the world’s economic output by up to 20 percent if left unchecked. In June, the Senate took up consideration of S. 2191, the Climate Security Act, comprehensive legislation to cut global warming pollution and drive rapid investment in the clean energy economy. The Climate Security Act would have reduced global warming pollution 17-19% below 2005 levels by 2020 and 57–63% below 2005 levels by 2050. Through a flexible market mechanism, the bill allowed major polluters to choose the most cost-efficient way to reduce pollution and buy pollution allowances to cover each ton of pollution that they continue to emit. The bill would have diversified America’s energy supply, ensured America leads the clean energy revolution, reduced our dependence on foreign oil and recharged America’s economy. Opponents of the Climate Security Act mounted a filibuster against it. On June 6, the Senate voted to continue the process towards the bill’s final passage. Six senators who couldn’t be at the vote entered statements into the record that they would have voted “yes” had they been present, bringing the total to 54 senators who spoke up for the need to advance serious legislation on global warming. Supporters included 10 senators who had not supported global warming legislation in prior votes (2003 and 2005)."

(Original scorecard available at http://www.lcv.org/2008-pdf.pdf

Support, opposition and critiques

Support

The following people and organizations endorsed the Lieberman-Warner bill:

Opposition

The following people, companies and organizations were opposed to the bill:


Articles and resources

See also

References

  1. Steven Mufson, "2 Senators to Unveil Climate Bill," The Washington Post, August 2, 2007.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Stephanie I. Cohen, "Is the latest climate change bill getting warmer?," The Washington Post, August 2, 2007.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Daniel Lashof, "Global Warming Pollution Reductions under the Lieberman-Warner Bill," National Resources Defense Council, October 16, 2007.
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Assessment of America’s Climate Security Act of 2007," National Wildlife Federation, October 30, 2007.
  5. Brian Beutler, "Tracking Lieberman-Warner: What's next?," Gristmill, November 1, 2007.
  6. Frank Davies, "Major global warming bill headed for Senate", The Mercury News, December 6, 2007
  7. "Don't Say We Didn't Warner You", Grist, December 6, 2007
  8. 8.0 8.1 John M. Broder, "Senate Panel Passes Bill to Limit Greenhouse Gases", The Washington Post, December 6, 2007
  9. OpenCongress bill page for S.2191.
  10. Project Vote Smart page on S Amdt 4825.
  11. "The Boxer-Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act Substitute Amendment (pdf)," NRDC, May 2008.
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 Ted Barrett, "Global warming bill faces stiff GOP opposition," CNN, June 2, 2008.
  13. Alert, "Senate Climate Change Bill Could Give Billions of Taxpayer Dollars to the Nuclear Power Industry," NIRS, May 12, 2008.
  14. Press release, "Response to Lieberman-Warner substitute," Friends of the Earth, May 21, 2008.

External resources

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