Thursday, February 28, 2008

S.2191-- America's Climate Security Act of 2007

You would be hard pressed to find a popular bill that has more varied and passionate opponents than S.2191, America's Climate Security Act of 2007. Introduced by Senator Joe Lieberman (I-Ct) on October 18, 2007, and currently sponsored by Sen. Benjamin Cardin [D, MD], Sen. Robert Casey [D, PA], Sen. Norm Coleman [R, MN], Sen. Susan Collins [R, ME], Sen. Elizabeth Dole [R, NC], Sen. Thomas Harkin [D, IA], Sen. Amy Klobuchar [D, MN], Sen. Bill Nelson [D, FL], Sen. John Warner [R, VA] and Sen. Ron Wyden [D, OR], S.2191 (informally called the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act) embodies a very serious and comprehensive commitment to significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Section 3 states that its purposes are:

(1) to establish the core of a Federal program that will reduce United States greenhouse gas emissions substantially enough between 2007 and 2050 to avert the catastrophic impacts of global climate change; and

(2) to accomplish that purpose while preserving robust growth in the United States economy and avoiding the imposition of hardship on United States citizens.
Among many other things this "Cap and Trade" bill sets emission allowances for 2012-2050, with a declining cap on greenhouse gases (GHGs) and establishes a market for selling, exchanging, transferring, submitting, retiring, or borrowing emission allowances. The bipartisan bill has a lot of support among members of Congress including Presidential candidates Obama, Clinton and McCain, who like its moderate approach.

More after the break.

In fact the three candidates seem to be fighting for the label of preeminent greenhouse gas warrior. Myron Ebell in a post for called Cap&Trade 101 notes that
Senator John McCain (R-Az.), now the presumptive presidential nominee of the Republican Party, said this week . . . that he had shown stronger leadership on global warming than the two leading Democratic Party presidential candidates, Senators Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and Hillary Clinton (D-NY). He noted that both Obama and Clinton are now co-sponsors of his climate bill, S. 2191, the Climate Security Act.
This universal commitment by the three candidates has lead the blog the "Conservative Common Man" to call them "Global Warming Hysterics."
There may be subtle differences between the top three presidential candidates but when it comes to saving the planet from the impending inferno created by the planet’s arch enemy, man, they are birds of a (red) feather. They see climate change as imminent doom and as they are in the elite class of super-citizens that can leap common sense in a single bound, they know it is up to them to take a stand. They must lend their illustrious names to whatever loony legislation is penned to cripple U.S. manufacturing and displace even more American workers.
As part of a blistering assault on Lieberman-Warner the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has produced a funny if utterly uninformative video. The Chamber's take is that the bill calls for change beyond the current technology and that will make energy prohibitively expensive.

Conservative opposition on the web has also been ferocious. A typical example of conservative opposition is Vincent Gioia's post entitled Global warming dupes on both sides of the aisle want to change how we live and bring down our country in the process. The title accurately summarizes his opposition.

A very well reasoned response to the conservative argument that Lieberman-Warner will lead to the end of America's economy can be found in an article by Daniel J. Weiss. Writing for the Center for American Progress, he examines the economic arguments and concludes
Studies examining the economic effects of the Lieberman Warner Climate Security Act (S. 2191) will be released in the coming months leading up to Senate consideration of the bill. Many of these studies will likely predict that the reductions of greenhouse gases required by the cap-and-trade system will lead to huge hikes in electric rates, reductions in jobs, and all sorts of other economic havoc.

But these studies also have one other common element: They will eventually be proven wrong once the program is underway.

These studies base their cost assumptions on existing technologies and practices, which means that they do not account for the vast potential for innovation once binding reductions and deadlines are set.
Opposition to Lieberman-Warner isn't limited to the Chamber and their allies on the right. There is plenty of opposition on the left, especially from groups who oppose nuclear power. A post in sums up the opposition of the anti-nuclear power faction.
It’s too weak on climate…. It’s too strong on nuclear…. STOP THE LIEBERMAN/WARNER CLIMATE CHANGE BILL!

An aide to Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) says the Lieberman/Warner climate change bill (S. 2191) “would be the most historic incentive for nuclear in the history of the United States.” (E&E Daily, February 8, 2008).

He’s not kidding: the bill’s complicated “cap-and-trade” carbon system could give billions of dollars—perhaps $500 Billion (no, that’s not a typo--$500 Billion)--to “zero or low-carbon” energy technologies, including dirty energy like nuclear power.

Moreover, the bill falls far short of the carbon emissions cuts necessary to address the climate crisis: a cut of only about 60-65% by 2050. There is a better way: we need to go carbon-free and nuclear-free, and it can be done by 2050—but only if we all act to make it happen.
ProgressOhio doesn't explain what that better way might be beyond saying it should include non-carbon and non-nuclear renewable energy.

Broader "lefty" opposition to Lieberman-Warner is lead by the Friends of the Earth. Their position is that
Corporate polluters will hit the jackpot if global warming legislation proposed by Sens. Joe Lieberman and John Warner becomes law. With key amendments supported by Friends of the Earth failing in committee, the bill now on its way to the Senate floor would hand them pollution permits worth hundreds of billions of dollars. Stick with Friends of the Earth as we try to stop the giveaways again on the Senate floor.
Bryan Beutler of Grist has written an excellent article outlining the struggle over Lieberman-Warner in the environmental movement. Shorthand summary:
Friends of the Earth are calling for no "half-measures" or compromises, while more establishmentarian groups like Environmental Defense are embracing moderate legislation on the grounds that it might actually pass. Other green groups are staking out their ground in between, praising bipartisan progress while stressing that moderate legislation needs to be strengthened.
The blog Eco-Pragmatism recently took on the argument that the bill is a giant giveaway to polluters.
One man’s “giveaway to polluters” is another man’s “transition assistance.” The Lieberman-Warner bill (S.2191) devotes 8% of the cumulative value of allowances from enactment though 2050 to transition assistance (“giveaways to polluters”). The remaining 92% goes to state governments, energy consumers, wildlife adaptation, farmers and foresters, etc. The attached chart (also posted here: shows three snapshots of the allocation system over time (2012, 2022, and 2031).

By 2031, polluters are not receiving any free allowances. The economic modeling shows that if you do not provide regulated entities with a substantial amount of free allowances in the early years of the program, before the advanced energy technologies have had a chance to deploy widely, then the program will be substantially more expensive for energy consumers and others.
You would think that a bill that could either wreck the American economy or save the world would be front page news every night. According to OpenCongress the bill has produced over 221 blog comments but only 67 news articles and nearly all of those articles have been in trade publications. I am sure that once the Britney Spears story is finished the mainstream media will be all over this little "destroy the economy/save the world" story like white on rice.