This should be an interesting week for global warming legislation that has been bounced around the Congress since 2007. The Climate Security Act, written by Senators Joe Leiberman and John Warner, will be debated in the Senate starting today.
The bill is very long, coming in at almost five hundred pages. It is the first piece of legislation introduced in the Congress that outlines a serious infrastructure for confronting global climate change in the United States.
It does have serious enemies in both the left and right ends of the spectrum. Those enemies are fairly predictable. Businesses that make their money manufacturing products or energy are unhappy about new regulations that would limit their carbon emissions. Environmental organizations say that the legislation does not go far enough in setting tough standards and strictly enforcing those standards.
The Climate Security Act boasts carbon dioxide emissions cuts of about 70% over the next four decades. The main thrust of the bill is a cap and trade emissions program that sets a specific emissions cap but allows regulated parties who exceed that limit to buy "pollution credits" from those who do not. Over time, the federal government lowers the limit more and more, hopefully encouraging innovative technology that are more efficient and less polluting.
No one knows for sure the exact impact the bill might have on the economy. A report released by the EPA earlier this year shows the impact to be negligible, perhaps just a 1% difference in the overall growth of the economy (read more HERE). One source of revenue from the bill that should help pad any costs associated with its passage is the $6.7 trillion raised over the next four decades from the sale of those carbon emission credits. According to Senator Barbara Boxer, those funds will be used to help consumers deal with energy costs that might increase because of the new law.
The cost not taken into account by many conservative enemies of the bill is the cost of inaction. By doing nothing to lower our nation's carbon emissions, we face the real possibility of having to engineer systems to fight flooding, diseases, drought, etc. that will result from global climate change. Those systems will be very expensive.
The word in the Senate is that the bill will not pass, or will not pass by enough votes to override the inevitable Bush veto. Supporters of the bill are merely viewing this as a test run for the real attempt when a new President and Senate take over in 2009.
To read more in the Washington Post, click HERE.