Lieberman-Warner Bill Moves to Full Committee

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 01 Nov 2007 14:41:00 GMT

At today’s markup of Lieberman Warner (S 2191), changes were made to win the support of Sen. Lautenberg (D-N.J.), ensuring passage by a 4-3 vote (Sanders, Isakson, and Barrasso voting no) to send the bill to the full Committee on Environment and Public Works.

The changes, according to CQ:
  • Extending the scope of the bill to cover all emissions from the use of natural gas. The introduced bill covered natural gas burned in power plants and industrial processes but not in commercial and residential buildings.
  • Requiring the EPA to make recommendations to Congress based on periodic reports from the National Academy of Sciences. The bill already would direct the academy to evaluate whether changes in the law are necessary, based on the state of the environment and available technology.

These were two of the four specific changes called for by NRDC at the initial hearing on the bill.

Amendments were introduced by Sen. Sanders (I-Vt.) and Sen. Barrasso (R-Wyo.). Changes made by amendments adopted at the markup:
  • Advanced tech auto funding limited to vehicles with minimum of 35 mpg (Sanders 3)
  • More allocations given to states, taken from international forest protection (Barrasso 4)
  • Definition of lower-rank coal eligible for 25% of CCS funding changed from “for example, bituminous and lignite” to coal with a heat content below 10000 BTU/lb (Barrasso 3)

Sen. Isakson reiterated his passion for nuclear power, and Barrasso argued for stronger coal subsidies, a sentiment supported by Sen. Baucus. Lautenberg compared their role to that of doctors faced with a sick patient who could become terminal, asking why anyone would withhold the necessary medicine. The Senators often laughed about their needs to compromise and balance each others’ parochial interests.

Sanders and Barrasso introduced several other amendments which were not adopted. Here are some:

Sanders Update: See this post for more on the Sanders amendments
  • Amendment 1 would have designated most of the funds in the zero/low-carbon emissions fund for solar, wind, and geothermal energy. Sanders pointed out that the bill has explicit funding for coal, cellulosic ethanol, and the auto industry but none for renewables.
  • Amendment 2 would have replaced the advanced tech auto funding with funding for local and state energy efficiency grants. Sanders argued that the auto language was too weak to ensure any benefits, saying “If we do not act aggressively Detroit will be shutting down and moving to China.”
  • Amendment 4 would give EPA authority to revise targets. Withdrawn after suggestion to work on issue by Lautenberg to have EPA action with Congressional veto
  • Amendment 5 would have moved to full auction of allowances by 2026
  • Amendment 6 would have put a moratorium on new coal-fired power plants that do not capture and sequester at least 85% of their emissions.
  • Amendment 8 would have replaced the 15% offset allowance for companies with a system-wide cap on total offsets purchased. The amendment was supported by U.S. PIRG, UCS, and NRDC.
  • Amendment 9 would have required economy-wide cuts by 15% by 2020 and 80% by 2050. Lieberman voted no, arguing that the 63% cuts would keep concentrations below 550 PPM by 2100 and saying “Your amendment would break the coalition and have possible other negative impacts.”
  • Amendment 1 would have set up the Rocky Mountain Center of Coal Studies at the University of Wyoming.
  • Amendment 2 would have supported high-altitude Western state (Wyoming) coal gasification demonstration projects.
  • Amendment 5 would have pushed back coal capture and sequestration targets.
  • Amendment 8 would have sunset the bill in five years. Barrasso said that China and India need to implement cap-and-trade programs in that time period.

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