The US ‘global warming’ debate continues with the Bingaman-Specter bill.

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.

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8 Responses to The US ‘global warming’ debate continues with the Bingaman-Specter bill.

  1. As you know, Clinton/Gore signed on to the Kyoto treaty way back in 1998, but the Senate has never taken any action toward ratifying it. Sure the treaty is flawed (like everything politicians do), but it’s a place to start. Why don’t we all contact our senators (I have) and simply ask them to re-visit it?

    Also, it sure would be good if Al Gore would ‘man up’ and have a public debate with his detractors. If he indeed has science behind him, which it seems that he does, a public debate would once and for all silence some of the dissent. He just needs to do it. Why hasn’t he done it?

    Here is the email for main spokesperson – kalee@carthagegroup.com – Drop her an email and tell her you think Al Gore needs to grow some cahones and have this debate in public.

  2. earthpal says:

    A Technology Accelerator Payment! They will be allowed to buy additional emissions permits in the first year and rising above the rate of inflation each year after. What’s that about? How on earth will they reach any useful emissions reduction target when they allow themselves such safety valves?

    They are binding themselves to ridiculously low targets. Maybe it’s just me but I can’t forsee any real progress from this.

  3. the Grit says:

    Hi Stephen,

    Actually, the Senate did do something about the Kyoto treaty. They passed a resolution, 90 something to 0, telling President Clinton not to send it to them.

    Hi earthpal,

    I doubt it will pass the House in its current form, if it gets that far, and by the time they loaded it with enough pork to make it acceptable, it wouldn’t have enough support to override a Presidential veto.

    the Grit

  4. matt says:

    I like the bit about pumping funds into Alaska to mitigate the affects of sea level rises resulting from Artic ice melt which in turn results from ‘global warming’. I mean, what’s that about!!

    Someone somewhere in the US government is accepting that climate change is happening. They just don’t seem to know how to plan for it. Look at New Orleans.

  5. inel says:

    matt & friends,

    Bingaman-Specter is one of the least-effective of a clutch of climate relevant bills being considered by Congress. I think you might find this June 26 2007 report ‘MIT model compares environmental, economic effects of emissions bills‘ interesting. Here’s the start of that article for you :

    While Congress considers seven bills that aim to limit America’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, MIT researchers have offered an analysis of the legislation based on a powerful model they created.

    The MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change applied its model to the seven bills to determine how costs associated with each might affect the domestic economy. While the program does not endorse any individual bill, the analysis could lend insight into potential climate consequences and the rough effects on prices and consumers, said Henry Jacoby, co-director of the joint program and a professor of management. “The objective of the assessment is to help policy-makers move toward a consensus,” he said.

    The current proposals span a wide range of future emissions targets for the country. The Bingaman-Specter and Udall-Petri bills, for instance, would keep U.S. emissions near current levels, while others sponsored by McCain-Lieberman, Kerry-Snowe, Waxman and Sanders-Boxer call for emissions reductions of 50 to 80 percent below the 1990 level by 2050.

    “All of these bills would substantially reduce United States GHG emissions from what they would be if nothing were done and would, if other countries follow suit, substantially reduce the risk of very serious climate change,” said John M. Reilly, associate director for research for the joint program.

    The MIT model predicts that if no action is taken, U.S. greenhouse gas emissions will double by 2050, with global levels growing even faster and continuing to rise for the rest of the century. Global temperatures would rise by 3.5 degrees to 4.5 degrees above current levels by 2100. “The more ambitious of the Congressional proposals could limit this increase to around 2 degrees Centigrade, but only if other nations, including developing nations, also strongly control greenhouse gas emissions,” Jacoby said.

  6. matt says:

    Thanks for this summary inel.

    There’s a lot of activity over there in the US at the moment around the various climate change bills being proposed. The jockeying for position around these different bills must be confusing for the senators and congress men and women, let alone for the public!

    I guess that’s US democracy in action. Here in the UK we have the discussion going on around just one bill, called naturally enough The Climate Change Bill. I suppose the bargaining goes on within that one framework proposal.

    The US debate has to be considered with China’s emissions now at a high level and building up at speed like a steam train out of control and with no serious chance of reversing for decades to come. Many in the US have used this as an excuse therefore to do nothing with US emissions. With this in mind I would think it important to get even the Bergaman-Specter bill onto the statute books so as to get the ball rolling on placing emissions reductions systems in place within the US governance & market strategies. This is the only bill after all, it is claimed, that both unions and business are actually committing to.

    Of course some leeway should be built into the bill to provide the chance to tighten the screws with tougher emissions targets as all parties begin to adjust to the idea of administering and costing in such targets. Otherwise another bill would need to be brought in later.

    I guess the serious prospect of a Democrat government kicking off January 2009 is causing all this more committed horse trading at the moment. Business knows the Democrats would bring in far tougher legislation.

  7. the Grit says:

    Hi Matt,

    We planned for New Orleans being hit by a hurricane, and gave the local government many billions of dollars to prepare for the event. What we didn’t plan for was the massive level of corruption at the state and city level, that managed to siphon away most of the funds without producing any useful results. The history of corruption in Louisiana is long and sordid and sounds like it would make a good blog post. Thanks for the idea!

    As to CO2 caps and the US, the ball is already rolling, without Congress doing anything. At least a couple of states, New Jersey and California if memory serves, have already passed laws along those lines. I suspect that our Federal Government will delay action long enough to see how these work out. Of course, we’re also waiting to see if the countries that adopted the Kyoto treaty actually live up to it. Last I looked, that’s not going so well.

    the Grit

  8. matt says:

    Yes, the ball is rolling along in the right direction and yes, it is a very bumpy road!

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