Senate Watch, China: Bingaman, Cantwell, Casey, Dorgan, Klobuchar, Lugar, Murkowski, Rockefeller, Whitehouse 9

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 02 Dec 2009 17:22:00 GMT

Senators respond to China’s recent emissions reduction announcement of lowering greenhouse gas intensity by 40 percent from 2005 levels by 2020. Several senators continue to move away from the legislative structure passed by the House of Representatives, and supported by President Obama and most industry advocates of reform.

Jeff Bingaman (D-NM)

E&E News Bill Wicker, a Bingaman spokesman, said the chairman supports the economywide cap-and-trade approach for reducing emissions but also sees some merits in the other ideas. Additionally, several panel members on both sides of the aisle have signaled interest in legislative options beyond the cap-and-trade bill approved earlier this spring in the House and now up for debate in the Senate. “We thought it’d be a good idea to step back and put all of the different policy options into a single hearing,” Wicker said.

Maria Cantwell (D-WA)

E&E News By the time we’re done with financial regulatory reform, everybody’s head is going to be spinning and they’re going to be saying, “Oh my gosh, how can you prevent this from happening again?”

People are moving more toward something that’s much more streamlined. The bottom line is you don’t want to have added volatility to the market when trying to solve [the emissions] problem. And that’s clearly what the futures trading does. It adds volatility. What you want is a predictable price so that people can move forward and diversify.

Robert Casey (D-PA)

E&E News There’s a lot of verification we’re going to have to see before I’d embrace it [China’s announced GHG commitments] and say it’s as positive a development as the Chinese would hope we’d say it is. I’m a little skeptical is maybe the fastest way to say it.

So if we’ve got problems here in terms of working that out and making sure there are enough emission allowances for us to do what we need to do here, you can imagine how much more complicated it gets internationally.

Byron Dorgan (D-ND)

E&E News Some will make the case that if you do financial reform that setting up a Wall Street trading system on carbon securities is less dangerous. I am not interested in setting up a trillion-dollar carbon securities market to tell us what the price of energy is going to be.

E&E News It’s pretty clear to me that our nation is going to continue to use our most abundant resource, which is coal, but we’re going to use it differently. And the question is how do we do that. How do we find the science, technology and research capability to allow us to continue to use coal in a manner that would decarbonize it or use it in a much lower manner? This [CCS funding report] was a unique exercise and a unique product of thought, where several stakeholders have come together on a single issue. . . [It will provide] beneficial pathways for future legislation.

Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)

E&E News The idea would be while the body is working on financial regulation, then during that same time we’ll be getting the energy, the bipartisan group working on energy.

Richard G. Lugar

E&E News I’d not be comfortable if the Copenhagen progress report relied on billions of dollars [in international assistance] anticipated from the U.S. budget that we’ve not debated and will be very contentious.

Lisa Murkowski (D-AK)

E&E News Robert Dillon, a spokesman for Energy and Natural Resources Committee ranking member Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), offered Bingaman praise for keeping an open mind to alternatives. “Everyone assumes cap and trade is the only way to go,” Dillon said. “There’s been a demonization or marginalization of anyone raising other options.” As for Murkowski, a onetime supporter of cap-and-trade legislation, Dillon said, “She’s not promoting one idea over another yet. She’s exploring the options.”

Jay Rockefeller (D-WV)

E&E News The Chinese are a mystery that way. They enter negotiations always with an advantage because nobody knows what they’re going to do, what they’re going to say, or whether they mean it.

Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)

E&E News Unfortunately, we start from a position where there’s fairly considerable basis for skepticism on the enforcement side [for China emissions reductions], which means the administration has got to come up with a pretty solid program. It doesn’t matter what their numbers are if they don’t have to prove them.

Politico If we don’t provide those other technologies a level playing field, we provide an unfair advantage to the nuclear power industry at the expense of the American economy at large.

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