Democrats Hail, Republicans Attack Lieberman-Warner
Sen. Boxer (D-Calif.) successfully shepherded the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act (S. 2191) out of the Environment and Public Works Committee from yesterday’s markup with a 12-8 vote, Sen. Warner and the two independents (Lieberman and Sanders) joining the nine Democrats.
The vote of the Environment and Public Works Committee in favor of the Climate Security Act was a historic moment for our country and for my Committee.Ranking member Inhofe:
For me, it was the greatest legislative accomplishment of my political career of thirty years.
Finally, America is taking bold steps to avert the catastrophe that awaits our children and grandchildren if we do nothing.
Our bill has two goals…to fight global warming and to do it in a way that keeps our economy strong. That will be my focus in the coming weeks and months as we move the bill forward to the Senate floor.
This bill is the most far reaching global warming bill in the world and I am grateful to Senators Lieberman and Warner for breaching the partisan divide and unleashing a spirit of cooperation that puts the wind at our backs.
For the first time in history, a fatally flawed global warming cap-and-trade bill was passed out of committee. Not only is the entire cap-and-trade approach fatally flawed, but the Lieberman-Warner bill failed to improve today, as Democrat amendments were added. Instead of engaging in substantive debate, the Democrats chose to simply reject all serious efforts to mitigate the unintended consequences of this bill and ensure adequate future energy supplies for this nation.
The rejection of key amendments has guaranteed an enormous floor fight as many major issues were side-stepped. While the vote today was never in question, it did provide an opportunity for Republicans to expose the serious deficiencies of this bill. The full Senate now needs to look at a cost-benefit analysis of this bill. It is simply all economic pain for no climate gain. Numerous analyses have placed the costs at trillions of dollars. Even if you accept the dire claims of man-made global warming, this bill would not have a measurable impact on the climate.
Republicans, in a good faith effort, offered a conservative number of amendments [Ed.—150] to address the most important flaws in this bill. Unfortunately, they were rejected. As is, this bill will strike a devastating blow to American families, American jobs, and the American way of life.
We have had approximately 20 climate hearings on the impacts of climate change, but none on so called ‘solutions.’ [Ed.—other than this, this, this, this, this, this] Differing approaches to reducing emissions were never discussed. Instead, the Committee rushed to a single approach, without the aid of government analyses.
Within seven years, electricity prices are estimated to skyrocket 35 to 65 percent and will have a huge economic hit on households. These costs are far greater than the McCain-Lieberman bill that was voted down by the Senate two years ago. Additionally, the poor will be the hardest hit as they pay about five times more per month, as a percentage of their monthly expenditures, compared to wealthier Americans. By 2015 this bill is estimated to cost up to 2.3 million jobs [Ed.—by CRA International], and these lost jobs will go to China, India, and other emerging nations without carbon limits.
“With that kind of federal funding, sustainable energy will become far more widespread than is currently the case,” Sanders told The Burlington Free Press. A member of the committee, Sanders said the bill would spur “an incredible burst forward” toward greater use of cleaner sources of energy.
The bill also set more stringent emissions standards than an earlier version of the legislation.
“If we can overcome politics as usual, if we utilize the knowledge and technology that is available today, not only can we reverse global warming, but we can create millions of good-paying jobs,” Sanders said.
At the outset of what turned out to be a day-long the committee meeting, Sanders called the bill “an important step forward in the fight against global warming.” He continued:
What the leading scientists of the world are telling us in more and more urgent tones is that global warming is a catastrophic crisis facing our planet and that if we do not act boldly and aggressively our nation and the entire world face a very dire future impacting the lives of billions of people. It will be a future of massive floods, droughts, loss of drinking water and farmland, extreme weather conditions and international conflicts fought over limited natural resources. It will be a future of very significant economic dislocation. That is not my opinion. That is the opinion of the most knowledgeable scientists in this world, many of whom have just won the Nobel Peace Prize for their work on global warming.
What these scientists are now telling us is that the problem is even more severe than they had previously believed and that if we, industrialized nations responsible for most of the emissions, do not cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80 percent by the year 2050 there is a 50 percent chance that we will reach a tipping point at which time massive damage will be unavoidable. That is the bad news.
But there is also some very good news. If we can overcome politics as usual, if we utilize the knowledge and technology that is available today, not only can we reverse global warming but we can create millions of good jobs in the process.
In other words, we are not helpless in this conflict. The tools and knowledge are there and, if we summon up the political courage, we can make great strides forward and lead the world in reversing global warming.
What should we be doing?
First, in terms of sustainable energy, there is almost unlimited potential. In that regard I want to thank Senators Boxer, Lieberman and Warner for revising the legislation that came out of the subcommittee and putting into the bill we’re considering today a suggestion that I made which will specifically provide, from the auction process, some $300 billion for sustainable energy – including wind, solar, and geothermal. With effective cooperation between the federal government and the private sector, a very substantial part of the energy needs of this country will, within the next few decades, come from such clear and sustainable technologies – and they will be less expensive than the conventional fuels we use today.
Second, the potential for cutting carbon emissions through strong energy efficiency efforts is extraordinary. If we raise CAFE standards for our vehicles and create a first-class rail and public transportation system, if we retrofit our homes, offices and factories and create strong energy efficient building standards for new construction, we can save massive amounts of energy and substantially cut greenhouse gas emissions.
Many of us on this committee have children and grandchildren. We owe it to them, and to all the children of this world, to reverse global warming and leave them a planet they can fully enjoy. The truth is that we now have the knowledge and technology to accomplish that goal. What has been lacking is the political will. I hope today that we can, in fact, develop that will. Thank you.
Today, U.S. Senator George V. Voinovich (R-OH), Ranking Member of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee’s Subcommittee on Clean Air, offered several amendments that balanced the need to address global climate change while not losing sight of growing America’s economy to create high-paying jobs while protecting seniors and families from sky-rocketing natural gas, electricity and gasoline costs.
The amendments were offered during an EPW markup of America’s Climate Security Act of 2007 – legislation written by U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-CT). The bill would touch nearly every segment of the economy, sending a tornado that would rip through America’s marketplace shuttering businesses, sending jobs overseas and sending energy costs through the roof for seniors and the most vulnerable.
“At a time when Congress should be looking to create an environment to grow our economy and create more high-paying jobs, some of my colleagues have chosen to take steps that would force jobs overseas while raising energy bills on seniors, families and our most vulnerable,” Sen. Voinovich said. “There is a way to harmonize our energy, economic and environmental needs – but this bill doesn’t do it. Some of my colleagues refuse to take a comprehensive view of the competing needs of the nation by harmonizing our energy, economic and environmental needs.”
Unfortunately, the full negative impacts of the Lieberman bill are still not completely known because the majority chose to rush the bill through committee without a non-partisan economic-impact analysis from the Energy Information Agency or the Environmental Protection Administration, which is the usual course of action for a bill of this magnitude.
The scientific consensus is clear: strong and swift action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is needed to prevent catastrophic effects of climate change. Today the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee took a first step towards that goal by reporting the America’s Climate Security Act of 2007. This bill is a start. It makes steep reductions in emissions by 2020, encourages the development and deployment of clean energy technology, provides assistance for American families, and provides training for workers that the clean energy industry will demand. I congratulate Chairman Boxer for moving this bill through the committee. But as the bill moves forward, we have to do much better. I am firmly committed to reducing emissions by 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. And I think it is imperative that we auction 100% of greenhouse gas permits rather than giving them away for free to polluters. I cast votes in the committee today for amendments to move the bill towards these goals, including an amendment I offered with Senator Sanders to eliminate giveaways to utilities and other companies under the bill. Although these amendments failed, I voted for the bill because it is a step in the right direction, and Congress can no longer afford to wait. It’s time for the United States to show leadership on this issue by taking up and debating a global warming bill. Indeed, I believe Congress should be debating a cap-and-trade bill as part of a broad, comprehensive effort to combat global warming and reduce our dependence on foreign oil, including aggressive steps to improve energy efficiency and deploy renewable energy that would benefit our economy and help create millions of new jobs. But as this bill moves forward, it has to be improved to meet the enormous challenge that we face. As that process goes forward, I will continue my efforts to ensure that the final bill takes stronger action, ensures adequate assistance for American families, and ends unnecessary giveaways to corporations.