Senators John Kerry, Joe Lieberman, and Lindsey Graham are working with the White House, environmentalists, and industry to craft comprehensive climate and clean energy legislation, which they plan to unveil on Monday. But Sen. Dick Lugar (R-IN) and Sen. George Voinovich (R-OH), both of whom have admitted the threat of global warming, today announced “a narrower competing bill” that resembles the weak legislation passed out of the Senate energy committee last year:
George V. Voinovich of Ohio and Richard G. Lugar of Indiana are developing an energy-only bill that would mandate new renewable and nuclear power production without imposing cuts on carbon emissions.Lugar first unveiled this plan on March 30, which looks like something from the Carter era. This approach, which has also been floated by energy committee members Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND), Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), and Sen. Lisa Murkowksi (R-AK), has been described by Graham as “half-assed.” Voinovich believes that subsidy-based legislation that fails to reduce global warming pollution is more “doable” than comprehensive reform that pays its own way by putting a price on carbon pollution:
I’d like to get something done. But I’m not sure it would meet the standards of the environmental groups or what Sen. Kerry would like to get done. I’d like to do the doable — move it down the field while I can.
More problematically, Voinovich also announced today that climate legislation “must include a comprehensive preemption provision that goes well beyond language included in previous climate bills” to get his support, a poison-pill stance that would derail the progress made by states across the nation to build a green economy.
Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) have been jockeying for attention with a bill that addresses the other half of energy reform, a climate-only package with weak targets known as the CLEAR Act.
These senators are participating in a complex dance – if President Obama and the public throw their weight behind real action, then these senators can take credit when elements of their bills appear in the Kerry-Graham-Lieberman legislation. However, if momentum stalls under the weight of polluter lobbying and Beltway indifference to the climate crisis, they can instead say they offered a “pragmatic” alternative.
Responses to Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio)’s draft climate legislation.As E&E News reports, Sen. Voinovich is designing his bill “with input from several industry groups, including the Alliance for Energy and Economic Growth, the National Manufacturers Association, the Edison Electric Institute and the American Chemistry Council.”
The Washington office of Bracewell & Giuliani, a law firm that includes President Bush’s first-term U.S. EPA air pollution chief, Jeff Holmstead, and Scott Segal, director of the Electric Reliability Coordinating Council, also helped write the legislation.
Ohio Senator George Voinovich today proposed to address the rapidly escalating threat of climate change by delaying meaningful federal action to control greenhouse gas emissions, obstructing existing state programs, and allowing U.S. global warming pollution to increase for decades to come.Jeremy Symons of the National Wildlife Federation:
“This proposal can be summed up in one word: bankrupt,” said Steve Cochran, national climate campaign director at Environmental Defense Fund. “It’s a detailed prescription for doing nothing. If you think climate change is a hoax, this is your bill.”
The bill to nowhere.
This phony bill would not require mandatory reductions in global warming pollution. It’s Bush reincarnated—a repeat of the do-nothing policies of the last eight years, and an attempt to provide pollution-supporting senators a way to appear as though they are addressing global warming without actually doing so. Global warming threatens to create unprecedented food and water shortages in the coming decades, causing massive loss of life and social and political instability around the world. Any attempt, such as this, to block progress in this fight and prevent America from being a clean energy leader is repugnant and immoral. Voters are not going to be fooled. Any senator who votes for such sham legislation will answer for it at the ballot box.
- Voluntary goals of 2006-level emissions by 2020 and 1990 levels by 2030
- Tax incentives for advanced coal and nuclear power
- A “backstop” cap-and-trade program
The IPCC Fourth Assessment Report outlined the need for industrialized nations to achieve reductions of 25-40% below 1990 levels by 2020, targets the Annex I Kyoto signatories recognized in Bali.From E&E News:
On the other side of the climate debate, Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio) is taking the lead in writing his own climate change bill that could come up as an alternative to the Lieberman-Warner measure.
Sources on and off Capitol Hill started circulating details of Voinovich’s proposal last week. An executive summary of the Voinovich plan obtained yesterday by E&E Daily shows a plan heavy on tax incentives for new energy technologies such as “clean coal” and nuclear power, with a cap-and-trade program used as a backstop if the low- and zero-carbon energy sources do not meet certain milestones.
The summary said those milestones would be to reduce U.S. emissions to 2006 levels by 2020 and 1990 levels by 2030. Voinovich spokesman Chris Paulitz said yesterday that the summary was “well outdated,” though he did confirm the senator was working on alternatives.
“He’s trying to figure out a way to make the environment cleaner that doesn’t kill our economy,” Paulitz said. “Right now, there’s not a bill in the Senate that does those two things.”
Voinovich is getting help from the Bush administration on his climate proposal, as well as others. “We’re working with everybody who we can humanly think of,” Paulitz said. Of the White House, he added, “It’d be silly to exclude a branch of government that would play a key role.”