Ten Democratic Senators Voice Industry-Based Concerns With Climate Legislation

Posted by Wonk Room Thu, 12 Jun 2008 18:01:00 GMT

From the Wonk Room.

Ten Senators letterTen Senators letter
The ten Democratic signatories: Debbie Stabenow & Carl Levin (MI), Mark Pryor & Blanche Lincoln (AR), Evan Bayh (IN), Sherrod Brown (OH), Jay Rockefeller (WV), Jim Webb (VA), Claire McCaskill (MO), and Ben Nelson (NE). Download the letter.
Ten Democratic senators echoed polluters in a letter sent to Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) about her filibustered climate change legislation last Friday. The senators, nine of whom supported cloture to end debate and vote on amendments, wrote, “We commend your leadership in attempting to address one of the most significant threats to this and future generations; however, we cannot support final passage of the Boxer Substitute in its final form.” Their letter continues:
To that point we have laid out the following principles and concerns that must be considered and fully addressed in any final legislation.

The senators’ letter uses practically the same talking points and specific policy demands as the industry polluters who fought to kill the legislation, in particular the industry lobbying groups American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE) and the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM). A review of the letter reveals the Boxer substitute (S. Amdt. 4825 to the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act, S. 3036) already made concessions to these parochial and fossil-industry demands:

Point #1: “Contain Costs and Prevent Harm to the U.S. Economy.”

Fossil Ten Senators“While placing a cost on carbon is important, we believe that there must be a balance and a short-term cushion when new technologies may not be available as hoped for or are more expensive than assumed.”
ACCCE“Protect American consumers and the U.S. economy through effective cost-containment measures.”
NAM“Include a safety valve or other equally effective and responsive cost-containment mechanism . . . Support economic growth and do no harm to U.S. economy.”

Commentary: Lieberman-Warner already included a significant “transition assistance” in the form of free permits to polluters [Secs. 541 – 572], borrowing (15 percent of obligation) [Sec. 511] and offset provisions (30 percent of obligation) [Title III], and a “cost containment” auction that would contain the price of seven percent of all allowances sold to polluters [Sec. 522]. A “carbon market efficiency board” is given the authority to loosen restrictions on borrowing and offset use—but not to tighten them [Sec. 521]. What’s left is even greater permit giveaways or “safety valves” that would allow polluters to bust the cap.

Point #2: “Invest Aggressively in New Technologies and Deployment of Existing Technologies.”

Senators“It is critical that we design effective mechanisms to augment and accelerate government-sponsored technology R&D programs and incentives that will motivate rapid deployment of those technologies without picking winners and losers. We also want to include proposals to provide funding for carbon capture and storage and other critical low carbon technologies in advance of resources being available through the auction of emission allowances.”
ACCCE“Guarantee, through public-private sector partnerships, aggressive, near- and long-term investments in new, advanced technologies that 1) avoid or reduce CO2 emissions, 2) capture, transport, and safely store CO2, and 3) use CO2 in beneficial ways, whenever practical.”
NAM“Promote advanced, energy efficient and zero-and-low-GHG emission and sequestration technologies as part of a long-term strategy.”

Truth: The Fossil Ten claim they don’t want to pick “winners and losers” but then call for special support for “carbon capture and storage”—an important but experimental coal industry technology that already received special consideration under the Boxer substitute. In fact, the Boxer substitute called for a special “Kick-Start for Carbon Capture and Sequestration” fund that would go into effect within 120 days, years before emissions reductions would have to take place [Sec. 1005]. Evidently that’s not enough.

Point #3: “Treat States Equitably.”

Senators“The allocation structure of a cap-and-trade bill must be designed to balance these burdens across states and regions and be sufficiently transparent to be understood.”
ACCCE“For example, if a cap-and-trade program were to be implemented, it would be essential to have fair and equitable allocation of emission allowances.”
NAM“Be equitable and economy-wide in scope”

Commentary: Lieberman-Warner reserved three to four percent of allowances for states with high manufacturing and coal mining, in an admittedly complex formula [Sec. 602]. Another one percent of allowances would go to Alaska [Sec. 624], and four to seven percent of allowances to the other 49 states, divied up for coastal states, Indian tribes [Sec. 625], and wildlife restoration [Sec. 631], for adaptation efforts in coordination with the Secretary of the Interior. In addition, significant funding is allocated to American automobile manufacturers [Title XI] and the coal industry [Title X]. Of course, “equitable” and “designed to balance” is in the eye of the beholder.

Point #4: “Protect America’s Working Families.”

Senators“For instance, one way to provide some relief would be to provide additional allowances to utilities whose electricity prices are regulated, which would help to keep electricity prices low.”
American Electric Power Service Corporation“AEP feels strongly that the electric sector should receive emission allowances commensurate with its pro rata share of the emission caps in the legislation, whether emissions are regulated upstream or downstream.”

Commentary: Even though experts agree allowances should be auctioned, Lieberman-Warner already provided such utilities with free allowances – 18 percent of all initial permits given away for free to fossil-fueled electricity generators [Sec. 551]. Furthermore, the bill already had significant assistance provisions for American families: a tax rebate fund that grows from 3.5 percent of permits to 15 percent in 20 years [Sec. 582], 13 percent of allowances reserved for local distribution companies to provide support to low- and middle-income consumers [Sec. 601], and the aforementioned assistance to states.

Point #5: “Protect U.S. Manufacturing Jobs and Strengthen International Competitiveness.”

Senators“The final bill must include enhanced safeguards to ensure a truly equitable and effective global effort that minimizes harm to the U.S. economy and protects American jobs. Furthermore, we must adequately help manufacturers transition to a low carbon economy to maintain domestic jobs and production.”
NAM “Give consideration to industries exposed to foreign competition if a U.S. climate change policy creates competitive disadvantages.”

Commentary: As the senators’ letter recognized, Lieberman-Warner already has a “mechanism to protect U.S. manufacturers from international competitors that do not face the same carbon constraints [Sec. 1306].” And Lieberman-Warner already reserved 11 percent of allowances for the first ten years of the program to be given away for free to carbon-intensive manufacturers [Sec. 541].

Point #6: “Fully Recognize Agriculture and Forestry’s Role.”

Senators“Strong, aggressive and verifiable offset policies can fully utilize the capabilities of our farmers and forests.”
ACCCE“Allow broad use of verifiable actions to offset manmade greenhouse gas emissions. Use of verifiable offsets (from domestic or international action), should be unlimited because they help achieve cost-effective reductions in manmade greenhouse gas emissions. . . Programs such as terrestrial carbon sequestration, conservation, and energy efficiency are important domestic and international tools to reduce the carbon footprint of greenhouse gas emitters.”
Edison Electric Institute (EEI)“Provide for the robust use of a broad range of domestic and international GHG offsets.”

Commentary: Lieberman-Warner already included “strong, aggressive and verifiable” offset policies – 15 percent each for domestic and international projects. Behind the rhetoric of “farmers and forests” lies the reality that the most easily verifiable offsets come from methane emissions from coal mining and industrial agriculture waste ponds – practices that should be dealt with for other safety and health reasons. As the restrictions on offset use are loosened, the regulatory infrastructure needed to verify offsets increases. The pollution industry would like to see offset usage be unlimited, which would require a complex new regulatory bureaucracy that the polluters would oppose tooth and nail.

Point #7: “Clarify Federal/State Authority.”

Senators “Congress should adopt a mandatory federal cap-and-trade program that will be the single regulatory regime for controlling greenhouse gas emissions.”
ACCCE“Avoid a patchwork of conflicting standards or duplicative programs through the adoption of a uniform federal program.”
NAM“Preempt all state climate change laws”
EEI “Provide certainty and a consistent national policy”

Commentary: Lieberman-Warner would distribute four percent of allowances (growing to ten percent by 2032) to states who “show leadership” on reducing emissions—but only those that do not have a conflicting cap-and-trade program. The senators are joining the Bush administration in the attempt to block and preempt state-level regulation of greenhouse gases.

Point #8: “Provide Accountability for Consumer Dollars.”

Senators“The cap and trade program developed in the Lieberman-Warner bill has the potential to raise over $7 trillion. Much of these funds will be indirectly paid for by consumers through increased energy prices. The federal government has a fundamental obligation to ensure these funds are being spent in a responsible and wise manner. The development of any cap and trade program must recognize the sensitivity of this obligation and eliminate all possibility of waste, fraud or abuse.”
American Petroleum Institute “Be transparent and understandable to all consumers and stakeholders.”

Commentary: Considering that these senators are also calling for federal preemption of stronger state regulations, greater subsidies for the coal industry, electric utilities, and manufacturers, and even greater “cost-containment” provisions than those already in Lieberman-Warner, it’s hard to imagine what they consider to be “responsible and wise” spending or the elimination of “waste, fraud or abuse.”

Sen. Boxer’s version of Lieberman-Warner attempted to satisfy these kinds of demands as well as progressive principles espoused by other senators. Download the This letter.

Lieberman-Warner Filibustered, 48-36

Posted by Wonk Room Fri, 06 Jun 2008 14:20:00 GMT

From the Wonk Room.

This morning, in the only order of business today, the Senate voted 48-36 to filibuster the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act (S. 3036) – 60 votes would have been required to achieve cloture and limit debate. 16 senators – six Democrats and ten Republicans – failed to vote.

Final tally

The vote was specifically on cloture for Senator Barbara Boxer’s (D-CA) substititute amendment (S.A. 4825) to the bill.

Voting in the affirmative were 39 Democrats, seven Republicans, and two independents (Republicans and independents in ALL CAPS, senators up for re-election in bold, senators retiring in italics):
Akaka Baucus Bayh Bingaman Boxer Cantwell Cardin Carper Casey COLLINS Dodd DOLE Durbin Feingold Feinstein Harkin Inouye Kerry Klobuchar Kohl Lautenberg Leahy Levin LIEBERMAN Lincoln MARTINEZ McCaskill Menendez Mikulski Murray Nelson (FL) Nelson (NE) Pryor Reed Reid Rockefeller Salazar SANDERS Schumer SMITH SNOWE Stabenow SUNUNU Tester WARNER Webb Whitehouse Wyden
Voting in the negative were 32 Republicans and four Democrats (Democrats in ALL CAPS, senators up for re-election in bold, senators retiring in italics):
Alexander Allard Barrasso Bennett Bond BROWN Brownback Bunning Burr Chambliss Coburn Cochran Corker Crapo Domenici DORGAN Ensign Enzi Grassley Hagel Hatch Hutchison Inhofe Isakson Kyl McConnell JOHNSON LANDRIEU Lugar Roberts Sessions Shelby Thune Vitter Voinovich Wicker
Not voting were six Democrats and 10 Republicans (Democrats in ALL CAPS, senators up for re-election in bold, senators retiring in italics):
BIDEN BYRD CLINTON Coleman CONRAD Cornyn Craig DeMint Graham Gregg KENNEDY McCain Murkowski OBAMA Specter Stevens

Biden, Clinton, Coleman, Kennedy, McCain, and Obama submitted statements indicating they would have voted for cloture.

Cloture vote on SA 4825 (Boxer) to the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act (S. 3036)

Posted by Brad Johnson Fri, 06 Jun 2008 13:00:00 GMT

At 9:00 a.m. on Friday, June 5, 2008, the Senate will proceed to vote on cloture on Amdt. No. 4825, offered by the Senator from California (Mrs. Boxer), to S. 3036, a bill to direct the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency to establish a program to decrease emissions of greenhouse gases, and for other purposes.

Ordered further, That Members have until 10:00 a.m. on Friday, June 5, 2008 to file second degree amendments.

Notable quotable

Posted by Gristmill Fri, 06 Jun 2008 02:55:00 GMT

Cross-posted from Gristmill.

“All Republicans want just one thing, and that is to debate this bill … When they pull the bill, I don’t want them to say that Republicans had anything to do with it.”

—James Inhofe (R-Okla.) on the Senate floor Thursday, after Republican leadership spent nearly four days delaying debate of the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act (S. 3036).

Lieberman-Warner Amendments

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 05 Jun 2008 16:52:00 GMT

Sen. Harry Reid used his power as Senate Majority Leader to establish the terms of debate for the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act (S. 3036), filing for cloture and filling the amendment tree. Republicans have not yet submitted a list of amendments. All first-degree amendments had to be filed by 1 PM today. The vote on cloture is scheduled for Friday morning.

The amendments introduced last night, in order:

  • SA 4821 (Wyden): procedural
  • SA 4822 (Whitehouse-Menendez): Establishes a Climate Change Rebate Program. The amendment would ensure that funds are available each year to fully cover the increased costs of goods and services for the bottom income quintile and phase out the assistance over the second income quintile. The amendment would also increase funding for green jobs. The amendment preserves and strengthens the role of Local Distribution Companies (LDC) to prioritize energy efficiency programs.
  • SA 4823 (Whitehouse): Establishes Institutes for Ocean and Coastal Adaptation.
  • SA 4825 (Boxer): New subsititute. From E&E News:
Among the changes is language clarifying that border taxes collected on carbon-intensive goods from China and India would be subject to the annual congressional appropriations process. The new bill also would bring appropriators in to divvy up funds from the cap-and-trade bill after 2047. In an apparent bow to Ohio Democrat Sherrod Brown, a fence sitter on the legislation, Boxer added language creating a new clean-energy industry institute in Toledo, Ohio.
  • SA 4826, 4827 (Biden): procedural
  • SA 4828-4832 (Reid): procedural
  • SA 4833 (Kerry-Feinstein-Snowe): Reports beginning in 2018 must include recommendations for avoiding 2 degree Celsius temperature increase.
  • SA 4834 (Durbin): Continuation of FutureGen Cooperative Agreement.
  • SA 4835 (Lautenberg): Prohibition of political interference with science.
  • SA 4836 (Biden-Lugar, with 15 cosponsors): Sense of Senate resolution with regard to international negotiations.
  • SA 4837 (Sanders): Fossil fuel-fired power plants whose construction began after January 19, 2007 are not eligible for free allowances.
  • SA 4838 (Sanders-Menendez-Kerry #1): 80 percent reduction from 1990 levels by 2050 by modifying post-2020 targets.
  • SA 4839 (Sanders-Menendez-Kerry #2): Ten million solar roofs in ten years.
  • SA 4840 (Sanders-Menendez-Kerry #3): 20 percent by 2020 federal renewable portfolio standard.
  • SA 4841 (Sanders-Kerry): 200,000 megawatts of renewable electric power from concentrating solar power plants in ten years.
  • SA 4842 (Allard #1): Hydrofluorocarbon emission allowances shall not be terminable.
  • SA 4843 (Allard #2): An emission allowance shall constitute a property right.
  • SA 4844 (Menendez-Kerry #1): Mandates reports on economic impacts of climate change.
  • SA 4845 (Menendez-Lautenberg-Sanders #1):
  • SA 4846 (Menendez-Kerry #2): Increase funding for the set-aside to prevent emissions from tropical deforestation. The funding would be offset by a reduction in the transition assistance to the refiners of petroleum-based fuels.
  • SA 4847 (Menendez-Lautenberg-Sanders #2): Phases out free industry allowances by 2022. Cumulatively, between 2012 and 2030, this proposal would transfer about $200 billion from fossil fuel generation transition to the states. States would then be required to spend a portion of this money on renewable energy, energy efficiency, worker transition, and low-income consumer assistance.
  • SA 4848 (Nelson (Neb.)): Establishes National Commission on Energy Policy and Global Climate Change.
  • SA 4849 (Baucus #1): No revenue or outlays may be disbursed from any fund established in the Treasury of the United States by this Act, except pursuant to legislation reported by the congressional Committees of appropriate jurisdiction and subsequently enacted by Congress.
  • SA 4850 (Baucus #2): Eliminates Climate Change Worker Training and Assistance Fund and Climate Change Consumer Assistance Fund. Monies for those programs go into “Tax Relief Fund.”
  • SA 4851 (Barrasso #1): National Forest “hazardous fuels” clearing and wildfire reduction mandate; authorizes timber sales.
  • SA 4852 (Barrasso #2): Increases free allocations of allowances for carbon-intensive manufacturing facilities in United States, includes “nonfuel minerals” in category.
  • SA 4853 (Barrasso #3): $50 billion for coal-fueled carbon capture and sequestration projects.
  • SA 4854 (Barrasso #4): Endangered Species Act recovery plans do not need to be changed.
  • SA 4855 (Barrasso #5): Free permits for small business refiners.
  • SA 4856 (Barrasso #6): Establishes commission until 2020 to grant financial awards for the achievement of milestones in developing and applying technology that could significantly slow or reverse the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere by permanently capturing or sequestrating those gases without significant countervailing harmful effects.
  • SA 4857 (Dorgan): $20 billion for not fewer than 5 commercial facilities that capture and geologically sequester carbon released when coal is used to generate electricity.
  • SA 4858 (Dole #1): The United States should not rely on ethanol produced from corn and should rely increasingly on advanced, clean, low-carbon fuels for transportation.
  • SA 4859 (Dole #2): Increased forestry sequestration offsets.
  • SA 4860 (Dole #3): Sense of the Senate Regarding the Need to Expedite Certain Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Lease Sales.
  • SA 4861 (Dole-Warner): Strikes Davis-Bacon prevailing wage requirements.
  • SA 4862 (Dole-Whitehouse): Technical corrections to the coastal impacts section which Dole and Whitehouse got into the manager’s package.

Lieberman-Warner Day Three: Republican Leadership Blocks Debate; Reid Will File Cloture

Posted by Gristmill Thu, 05 Jun 2008 14:30:00 GMT

Cross-posted on Gristmill.

Republican leaders essentially shut down the Senate Wednesday during what was supposed to be a time of debate on the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act, forcing clerks to read the entire 492-page bill aloud. Republicans said the maneuver – which sucked up nine hours – was a protest against the Democratic majority’s slow pace in considering President Bush’s judicial nominations.

By the time the reading wrapped up near 10 p.m. last night, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) was livid. “[Climate change] is the most critical issue of our time,” said Reid. “The American people have a right to have their Congress address this issue.”

Reid read from what he described as a leaked strategy email [PDF] from a GOP lobbyist, which urged the party’s senators to stall productive debate as long as possible in hopes of scoring “political points” against the Democrats.

“The goal is for a theme – example, climate equals higher gas prices – each day,” Reid read from the memo, “and the focus is much more on making political points than in amending the bill, changing the baseline text for any future debate, or affecting policy.”

“This Republican strategy memo couldn’t be more clear: The Republican plan in dealing with the greatest challenge facing this world and this nation is more about making political points than legislating,” said Reid. “You couldn’t make up anything more cynical.”

Reid had said he’d like to have debate over the Climate Security Act wrapped up by the end of next week, but Republican leaders last night pledged to keep dragging it out. “It is not a one-week bill,” said Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). “This is at least a one-month bill.”

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), who earlier in the day had referred to Reid as “clueless,” chimed in as well. “This is not an itty-bitty issue,” he said.

So Reid said he would call for a cloture vote to end debate on the bill on Thursday or Friday, without substantive debate of amendments. It was a protest move, an effort to maintain authority over the bill and prevent further time-wasting on the part of the Republican leadership.

“The Republicans are trying to maintain the status quo in everything,” said Reid, who appeared tired and frustrated as the scuffling dragged on past midnight. “They don’t want legislation and they’ve proven that today time and time again.”

In all likelihood, the cloture vote will mean death for the most serious climate bill ever taken up by the full Senate. The partisan high jinks of the last two days indicate that the vote will likely fall largely along party lines. And with no substantive debate of amendments, there’s little chance the bill will get even close to the 60 votes needed to move forward.

Though the bill’s sponsors and green groups had hoped to see more productive debate on the bill this year, events so far have at least provided a starting point for climate legislation next year – and a clear villain to blame for its failure this year.

“If the Senate should fail to act on this bill, it is abundantly clear that the Republican leadership alone will be to blame,” said Sierra Club Executive Director Carl Pope in a written statement last night. “While the Senate leadership has proposed real relief for consumers suffering from skyrocketing energy costs, unfortunately Senate Republicans have nothing to offer but reading and roadblocks.”

Boehner Calls for Debate on Markey Climate Legislation

Posted by Wonk Room Thu, 05 Jun 2008 11:14:00 GMT

Yesterday, House minority leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) sent a letter attacking the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act (S. 3036) and Rep. Ed Markey’s Investing in Climate Action and Protection Act (H.R. 6186):

I write to you today regarding Select Committee on Energy Independence Chairman Ed Markey’s (D-MA) introduction of his long-awaited legislation aimed at reducing the level of carbon in the air by imposing new taxes on emitting it. Based on his comments last week, Chairman Markey’s legislation is expected to be much more far-reaching – and much more costly – than the legislation the Senate is debating this week. Make no mistake: House Republicans support responsible climate change policies that will protect our environment, advance our energy security, and create more American jobs. But in both cases, Chairman Markey’s bill and the Senate bill amount to large tax increases that would impact virtually the entire economy and would saddle consumers with even higher energy costs. I believe this approach is not only inadvisable; it is reckless and inappropriate . . .

While I disagree fervently with the logic of raising energy costs while consumers already face astronomical prices for gasoline, I respect your prerogative as Speaker to follow through on your promise and schedule a vote on the bill. And frankly, I welcome the debate. At a time when families are reconsidering their summer travel plans because of the record-high gas prices, I believe there is no clearer distinction between the two parties in Congress than on this issue.

The Hill reports that Pelosi’s office responded:
“The Energy and Commerce Committee and its members are taking the lead in developing climate change legislation in the House,” said Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill. “This is an extremely complicated issue, and we will continue to move forward as quickly as possible, regardless of the outcome of the current Senate debate.”

He added, “We welcome Republican involvement on the climate change issue … As the climate crisis is an issue of global importance, everyone needs to be involved in finding bipartisan solutions.”

Conservative Senators Compare Lieberman-Warner to New Deal, Oppose "Expansion of Government"

Posted by Wonk Room Wed, 04 Jun 2008 22:36:00 GMT

From the Wonk Room.

Conservative Senators Against New DealOn May 27, the Wall Street Journal editorial board wrote about the Climate Security Act (S. 3036):

Warner-Lieberman would impose the most extensive government reorganization of the American economy since the 1930s.

A week later, Sen. Jim Inhofe changed “reorganization” to “expansion,” writing in the Wall Street Journal that the climate legislation “will create the largest expansion of the federal government since FDR’s New Deal.”

Conservative senators have been coordinated on the Senate floor in repeating the Wall Street Journal-Inhofe message:

Judd Gregg (R-N.H.):

These allowances which really are a consumption tax in my opinion will essentially be used to greatly expand the government.

John Cornyn (R-Tex.):

This is the kind of huge expansion in government power over our lives and over the economy that is really unprecedented in our country, and I suggest is the wrong solution – is a – is a wrong answer to the – to what confronts us today.

George Voinovich (R-Ohio):

I feel it is overly aggressive, outpacing what technology can provide and thus assuring economic pain on the country and it is overly bureaucratic and cumbersome in its implementation, representing an unprecedented expansion of government power and a massive bureaucratic intrusion in American lives that will have a profound effect on businesses, communities and families.

The right wing is still upset with Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal, and wants to go back to an era without the system of labor, health, economic, and environmental protections that built the American middle class. They fear that the American public will realize that a New Green Deal of progressive policies could restore our economic future. Yesterday, Chuck Grassley (R-IA) complained:
The bill before us creates a raft of new government spending programs.

He and his fellow conservatives have put us on a sinking ship, are burning the life preservers, and won’t even let us build a “raft.” As David Roberts writes, “Unless we want to go down with the ship, we need to start building an ark.”

Lieberman-Warner Day Three: Climate Legislation and Energy Costs

Posted by Gristmill Wed, 04 Jun 2008 20:27:00 GMT

Cross-posted from Gristmill.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has said he won’t allow floor debate on the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act (S. 3036) to extend beyond next week, according to an article in E&E News (subs. only) today. “If we don’t finish it next week, then it means something has gone wrong,” he’s quoted as saying.

But at an earlier press conference, he told reporters, “I want to be patient and try to get as much done as soon as we can. If we arrive at a point where we’re just wasting our time, we will have to figure out something else.”

If Reid sticks to what he told E&E News, the Senate won’t have a lot of time to debate actual adjustments to the legislation. They’ve already burned two and a half days of debate without getting to any votes on amendments, thanks to procedural stalling by the Republican leadership that called for 30 hours of discussion before moving to amendments. After those 30 hours were expended, they demanded that the entire 492-page bill be read aloud, claiming they hadn’t yet had time to read it.

During those first 30 hours, GOP leaders offered a taste of the fight ahead: They downplayed the need for climate action and framed Lieberman-Warner as a bill that would destroy the economy. John Cornyn (R-Texas) even went so far as to make a chart declaring the bill the “Boxer Climate Tax.”

Some Republicans also attempted to make the case that the bill would increase the cost of gasoline at a time of already-record prices, citing the EPA’s analysis of the bill that projects a $0.53 cent increase in gasoline by 2030. For those of you counting, that’s about $0.02 a year. (Meanwhile, gasoline prices have increased from $1.47 per gallon in January 2001 to more than $4.00 a gallon today.) Kit Bond (R-Mo.) alleged that the Climate Security Act would have us all driving “golf carts,” and called the legislation as a whole a “complicated Soviet-style scheme.” The amendment process has yet to begin, but Republicans have already circulated 90 weakening amendments that they plan to offer.

Democrats, for their part, have argued that the bill will reduce the country’s dependence on oil and increase the use of alternatives, which will bring down energy costs for consumers. They’ve also talked up the bill’s provisions to shield consumers from increases, including an $800 billion consumer tax relief package and a $911 billion allowance to local electricity and gas utilities to help them cushion consumers from price swings, invest in renewables, and promote efficiency.

“Studies do not account for the cost of doing nothing,” said bill sponsor Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), noting that analyses of Lieberman-Warner have found that GDP would still grow and the economic impacts of the bill would be very small. Even those projections cannot take into account the potential for growth through a new green economy, or what could be lost if emissions are not curbed, argued Lieberman.

Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who last year sponsored a tougher climate bill (S. 309) along with Boxer, vowed to introduce an amendment to strengthen the targets for emissions cuts. He also talked up energy efficiency, raising fuel-economy standards, and investing in mass transit as integral means of further reducing emissions.

Meanwhile, everyone is waiting for the Senate to actually get to the amendment process …

Lieberman-Warner Day Three: Republican Leadership Forces Reading of Entire Bill

Posted by Gristmill Wed, 04 Jun 2008 18:31:00 GMT

Cross-posted from Gristmill.

By objecting to the unanimous consent request to dispense with the reading of the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act (S. 3036), Republicans are forcing the clerk to read the entirety of the Boxer substitute amendment [PDF], claiming they haven’t had enough time to read it yet. Boxer, of course, protested, but her appeal was rejected.

Older posts: 1 2 3