Climate Change Bill Proceeds in Congress

by William Yeatman on November 19, 2007

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee held two more hearings this week on the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act, S. 2191.  Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) has announced that she wants to mark up the bill in full committee on December 5th.  Greenwire’s Darren Samuelsohn reported that Boxer said she had “some terrific ideas” for improving the bill, but wasn’t sure how many she could get adopted in committee.  As far as I can tell, most of her ideas would raise the targets that must be achieved by the cap-and-trade scheme that is the centerpiece of the bill.


Senator Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) has said that he isn’t against trying to raise the long-term mandatory targets in his bill, but doesn’t think it’s practical to raise the short-term target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 20 per cent below 2005 levels by 2020.  Lieberman here is being politically at least semi-astute.  The long-term target in 2050 has little real significance and poses no political risks, but Lieberman has already admitted that his bill will be very costly at least in the short term.


U. S. greenhouse gas emissions have been increasing at about one per cent per year since the Kyoto baseline year of 1990.  Population has also been increasing at about one per cent per year, which means that per capita emissions have remained steady.  During the same period, the U. S. economic has been growing by about three per cent for every one per cent increase in emissions.  I don’t see how the Lieberman-Warner cap-and-trade bill is going to reverse emissions growth without putting the U. S. economy into an ongoing recession, unless of course population starts to go down.    


House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said earlier this month that she still hopes to get a compromise (anti-)energy bill to the floor before the two-week Thanksgiving recess.  Greenwire reported the following astonishing statement by Pelosi: "The price at the pump is just staggering for America's families, and we would like to have had something by then.”  Since the House and Senate anti-energy bills together would raise gasoline, food, auto, appliance, and electricity prices, I’m pleased to report that the House was not able to bring a compromise bill to the floor before the recess.

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