US climate bill under study

17 May, 2010 12:56 PM
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THE long-awaited Senate climate and energy legislation has US analysts studying the fine print and has practical politicians asking two questions: Are there 60 votes to move forward on debate, and does the Senate have the time - and the will - to act on the bill before the end of the session?

Sen. Tom Harkin (D., Iowa) called the bill - introduced by Sens. John Kerry (D., Mass.) and Joe Lieberman (D., Conn.) - a "great start," but his reaction, even for a key Democrat, was lukewarm.

"We must ensure that it includes even more provisions to promote the production and use of renewable sources of energy as well as promote energy efficiency," Harkin noted.

He posed the two questions in a statement and added, "We'll now have to evaluate whether we can garner sufficient support to pass this as well as whether there will be sufficient time yet this year to give it full consideration on the Senate floor."

Sen. Mike Johanns (R., Neb.), who has taken a lead role in Republican concerns with the climate bill, said in a statement, "A few sections immediately cause me concern. The cap-and-trade provisions are similar to the devastating Pelosi-Reid cap-and-trade proposals that tax every American who owns a car or flips a light switch."

Johanns, a former Bush Administration agriculture secretary, criticized the proposed bill's impacts on "agriculture, small businesses and other job creators". He noted that the costs would prevent such enterprises from "growing and hiring".

While promising additional study of the more than 1,000-page bill, Johanns initially pointed out that it would "require a 17 per cent reduction of 2005-level carbon emissions by 2020 and an 83pc reduction by 2050, similar to previous cap-and-trade bills offered in the Senate and House".

A briefing paper on Kerry's web site notes special provisions for farmers. As currently proposed, the bill exempts farmers from carbon pollution compliance. It also would establish a new multibillion-dollar revenue stream for the agricultural sector through a domestic offset program that promises incentives to farmers to reduce emissions on their land, the paper explains.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture would have the primary authority over agricultural and forestry projects, according to the summary.

Emissions issues

Jon Scholl, president of the American Farmland Trust (AFT), a Washington-based land conservation organization, said the Kerry-Lieberman proposal "indicates that they have incorporated many, if not all, of the items brought forward previously by Sens. Debbie Stabenow (D., Mich.) and Max Baucus (D., Mont.) in the Clean Energy Partnerships Act of 2009 to address the concerns of farmers and ranchers."

Scholl noted that AFT also is still analyzing the bill.

The Stabenow-Baucus proposal, which appears to be included, was endorsed by many farm and forestry organizations, including the National Cattlemen's Beef Assn., National Corn Growers Assn., National Milk Producers Federation, National Farmers Union and National Alfalfa & Forage Assn., as well as AFT.

The Stabenow-Baucus proposal would invest in an offset program for agricultural and forestry practices that reduce carbon emissions without harming jobs and the economy, Stabenow explained when she introduced it.

"As we work to develop new technologies to reduce emissions in the future, we also need to find cost-effective ways to limit emissions in the short term that do not cost us jobs," she said.

The bill particularly addresses investments in new technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

"For example, methane is more than 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide and can be produced from landfills, coal mines, farms, natural gas systems and oil pipelines," Stabenow said, citing the need for federal investments to reduce methane emissions or to build facilities that use methane to generate electricity.

The Kerry-Lieberman bill, entitled the American Power Act, which is the product of months of negotiations with Senate colleagues, contains some similarities to another bill previously introduced by Sen. Maria Cantwell (D., Wash.) and Susan Collins (R., Maine) that proposed returning 75pc of revenues from the sale of carbon allowances to consumers in monthly payments.

In a sharp difference from the House's Waxman-Markey bill, the Senate version refunds two-thirds of all revenues raised to American consumers and American businesses. The remaining third would go toward deficit reduction, investments in new technology and helping businesses transition to a low-carbon regime.

Resources for the Future, a Washington nonprofit organization that has been a leader on climate issues, explained the revenue stream, saying, "Allowances associated with a cap-and-trade system represent an asset with considerable monetary value, perhaps $100 billion or more annually.

"There are two major approaches to allocation: giving allowances away freely or auctioning them," the group explained. "If given away freely, allowances are often 'grandfathered' to regulated entities based on past emissions or related historic benchmarks. ... In an allowance auction, the government receives the auction revenue from the firms that purchase the allowances."

"This is not a plan that enriches Wall Street speculators," the Kerry-Lieberman discussion draft pointed out, "and it is certainly not a plan to grow the government."

The text of the American Power Act and briefing papers are online at www.kerry.senate.gov

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READER COMMENTS

My Kids Matter
17/05/2010 5:48:58 PM

Farmers, see what can happen if we stop denying the science & start getting involved in the solutions. Note the special provisions for farmers above.
Qlander
18/05/2010 7:57:45 AM

Don't hold your breath waiting for it to pass. Those special provisions for farmers, are for the US farmers only they have a long history of looking after their farmers. Australia is a different kettle of fish altogether.
Loc Hey
18/05/2010 11:48:16 AM

" Denying the science" MKM, what science was that, the science that has to fabricate evidence and tell lies to fool the sheeple. Oh and totally ignore any one elses views that does not suit you. Thats not science thats brainwashing, lets call it what it is ! Your kids are in danger from being led down the garden path more likely.
My Kids Matter
18/05/2010 3:13:00 PM

The IPCC identify a small possibility they may be wrong, unlike you Loc Hey who is prepared to gamble every thing because you couldn't possibly be wrong. I hope your right Loc, because with people like you, Fielding & Abbott standing in the way hope of implementing solutions fade every day.
Let us pay, in the name of the farter, the sun and the holy gas
18/05/2010 7:33:40 PM

MKM, it’s great to see the zeal of the true believers has not all completely evaporated after the blasphemies of the KRunt government. Prostrating yourself before the incantations of the IPCC is a sacred act that the consecrated global warming believer must commit to remain a sanctified member of the holy gaseous church. Let us pay
Loc Hey `
18/05/2010 8:38:19 PM

So now you refer back to the IPCC, this crowd has about as much credability as the mafia, less in fact. the mafia will tell you they are robbing you. Why is it that the IPCC is never wrong, ohhhh they are part of the UN, they would not lie to us would they, Nooo not half. i am not gambling anything , because nothing is happening exept in your over worked imagination. What solutions are you sugesting?? a great big tax on a harmless trace gas??? So the IPCC has you brainwashed into believing the sky is falling, Its not my fault you are gullible. Try to think for youself for once and not rely on what the IPCC or the media are so desparatly trying to ram down your throat. The louder they shout and try to intimade those that wont believe the new relgion you can be sure the bigger the lie is. As gobbels said "tell a lie often enough and they will believe it". Sorry but I am not as easly swayed by fairy tales.
My Kids Matter
19/05/2010 5:23:44 PM

IPCC represents the views of thousands of scientist all of whom are human, just like Tony Abbott & the rest of us. Some have been found to be overzealous yes, but the majority are hard working honest people, who present the facts as they find them & do their best to determine what might happen in the future. No, the media are not biased toward climate change action, because their revenues come from promoting consumption of things we don't need, produced at great cost to the environment. That's why the sceptics are winning the debate!!!!!!!!!!!
the lorax
20/05/2010 11:23:39 AM

Seeing as Loc Hey believes CO2 is a harmless trace gas I suggest we fill a room with it and leave him in it. Again he cannot grasp the fact that CO2 is ONE OF THE GASSAES and that the TRACE GAS has a large effect on the regulation of the global temperatures and that changing the balance of the TRACE GASSES will affect the climate. If you LOC HEY want 100% proof that it is occurring why is unreasonable to ask for 100% that it is not occurring. I look forward to LOc Heys peer reviuewed thesis on the AGW debate - but where will it be published and who would review it -
My Kids Matter
20/05/2010 11:51:13 AM

Another factor in Loccy's 'harmless trace gas' is that, while plants need it, an Australian study recently presented on ABC's Catalyst, shows that with increasing CO2 the protein content of food crops decreases and plant toxin levels rise to dangerous levels. Hardly a solution to feeding the world's growing population!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Loc Hey
20/05/2010 2:22:33 PM

Ok MKM then this needs to be shown to be true. It may or may not be. If it is what do you suggest, we plug all the volcanoes? I hope you have some very high tech way of finding and plugging them because most are on the ocean floor. I can't wait to hear your suggestions. MKM our co2 emissions are tiny compared to these.
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Neither JFT, it is just to expose the lack of credibility in your shallow attempts claiming that
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Geronimo: You will also note that FMD stands for Farm 'Management' Deposits. Their main purpose
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Geronimo; Several thousand other farmers, who haven't dug themselves into a debt hole they can't