Senators Jeff Bingaman, Democrat of New Mexico and Arlen Specter, Republican of Pennsylvania are making a serious attempt to walk the tight rope that is the US ‘global warming’ debate by bringing in what has been dubbed the ‘Low Carbon Economy Act’.
Like other so-called cap-and-trade schemes, it would allow companies to buy and sell the right to emit carbon dioxide, which is seen as the chief culprit in global warming. But to secure labor and corporate support, the measure also places a limit on the price industry would have to pay for such permits. And to win the endorsement of Alaska’s two Republican senators, the bill contains billions of dollars in new money to help their state cope with the effects of climate change on roads, bridges and coastal areas.
The Bingaman-Specter bill faces opposition from some environmental groups who say it does not go far enough. The White House, which so far has opposed any mandatory system of caps on carbon emissions, is also expected to resist the measure. It was written in conjunction with the National Commission on Energy Policy, a privately financed group formed in 2002 to try to find a bipartisan solution to climate change.
“The goal was to put forward a proposal that takes into account the current science and encourages the technology that will be needed to address this problem,” Mr. Bingaman said in an interview. “We also think this proposal can get broad enough bipartisan support that we can actually enact it in this Congress.”
The bill won the endorsement of the A.F.L.-C.I.O., the United Auto Workers, the United Mine Workers and several other unions, who have all been reluctant to support any far-reaching climate change legislation because of fear that it would drive up the price of energy and force manufacturers to move operations outside the United States. Union officials said they were satisfied that the Bingaman-Specter plan would make costs bearable for carbon emitters and penalize foreign countries that did not take adequate measures to control carbon emissions.
“We’ve never even stood up and said yes to one of these things,” said Bob Baugh, coordinator of the A.F.L.-C.I.O.’s energy task force. “This one we have. We think it’s an important step forward.” Utility executives who will participate in the unveiling of the plan on Wednesday called it a workable alternative to more draconian measures now before Congress.
The new proposal would grant permits to all emitting industries, including oil refineries, natural gas processing plants, manufacturing facilities and coal-burning power plants. Cars, trucks and airplanes are not covered, but owners would face significantly higher fuel prices passed on by oil and gas companies.
More on the US ‘global warming’ battle here.