Senate climate change bill draws laurels and darts *Updates*

A bit later than originally expected, the Senate has put forth their own version of the climate change bill. It’s a bit tougher than the House version (which just squeaked by that chamber in the spring) with higher emissions reductions by 2020 but also has measures to help avoid price spikes that would be particularly bad for consumers.
The bill is just out of committee, so there’s likely a lot that will change with it yet, but here’s a compilation of reactions to what is now being called by some the Boxer-Kerry bill:
The Greater Houston Partnership issued a resolution that, it says, supports “Congressional efforts to address climate change…” But the bullet point list of principles makes it pretty clear they don’t want a cap-and-trade system:

“This balanced approach to what has been a national flashpoint issue supports the development and implementation of energy policy which incorporates the following principles:

• Promotes energy security and reliability;

• Ensures U.S. competitiveness in the worldwide economy;

• Ensures economic impact is borne proportionately across business sectors;

• Promotes development and use of all domestic energy sources;

• Balances environmental objectives with economic growth and job creation;

• Promotes energy efficiency and conservation;

• Achieves legislated emissions reductions at the lowest possible cost;

• Addresses the international nature of greenhouse gas emissions and encourages global participation;

• Maximizes transparency to companies and consumers;

• Reduces administrative complexity; and

• Enables market entry for energy efficient and low carbon technologies.”

I think an earlier draft included “free donuts for everyone.” Sounds pretty simple, right?
The U.S. Conference of Mayors was pleased with the inclusion of Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grants in the bill:

“By doing this, these Senate leaders are acknowledging the important role cities play in creating green jobs and achieving energy independence and climate protection. The Conference has worked long and hard to establish this innovative program as a cornerstone of our national climate protection strategy,” said Trenton, NJ Mayor Douglas Palmer, past president of the group.

The Blue Green Alliance, a group of unions and environmental groups, was generally supportive with some of the members getting more specific.

Laborers’ International Union of North America president Terence O’Sullivan was “pleased with the bill’s family-supporting Davis-Bacon provisions, which will help ensure that new jobs are good jobs with fair pay. The bill’s green construction careers provision invests in both workers and jobs of the future and will strengthen communities.”

The National Center for Policy Analysis released a study today saying the Kerry-Boxer bill “could cost taxpayers more than $1,761 per family annually and will not reduce global warming temperatures anymore than one-tenth of a degree by 2050.”

“The bill will do nothing to effectively address global warming, will cause more harm than it prevents, and will impose enormous costs on American families,” said H. Sterling Burnett, Senior Fellow with the National Center for Policy Analysis and author of the study.

The study also predicts job losses of 2.5 million by 2030 and an increase in residential electric rates of 31 to 50 percent. Titled Reasonable Responses to Climate Change, the study instead encourages “no-regrets” policies, such as eliminating fuel subsidies and reducing regulatory barriers to building new nuclear power plants.
The Union of Concerned Scientists praised the bill’s tougher targets and said it was important to have on the table for international climate talks in Copenhagen in December:

“A stronger short-term target makes scientific sense,” said Melanie Fitzpatrick, a climate scientist at UCS. “U.S. emissions levels are now lower than expected, so we’re already well on our way to meeting these goals. Additionally, more of the carbon dioxide we’re emitting today is staying in the atmosphere because the ocean is absorbing less carbon from the air. That means early cuts in emissions are even more critical to keep temperatures down and prevent the worst consequences of climate change.”

American Petroleum Institute President Jack Gerard said Boxer-Kerry appears to follow the same pattern of Waxman-Markey” …which resulted in a political bidding process that picked winners and losers. The losers would be millions of Americans and American companies who rely on gasoline, diesel fuel and other petroleum products to get to work and to school and to run their businesses.”

“We strongly urge the Senate not to follow the same pattern. It should craft a bill that provides equal treatment across the U.S. economy, recognizes and encourages more use of clean-burning natural gas, preempts EPA climate regulation under the Clean Air Act, and avoids the severest consequences of Waxman-Markey. That means not just higher energy prices and lost jobs but also jobs and emissions sent abroad. A study of the U.S. refining industry by EnSys Energy projected Waxman-Markey could sharply increase our refined product imports and reduce investment in U.S. refining by as much as 88 percent or $90 billion.”

The Industrial Energy Consumers of America focused its opposition on the cap-and-trade part of the bill (which is really 90 percent of the system), saying they “believe that there are more cost effective policy options available” but they don’t mention them.
Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) said “The national energy tax was a terrible idea when it passed the House, and it is an even worse idea now. Middle-class families and small businesses struggling to make ends meet shouldn’t be punished with costly legislation that will increase electricity bills, raise gasoline prices, and ship more American jobs oversea.”
He pointed again to the GOP’s American Energy Act which expands U.S. oil and gas drilling, gives more incentives to nuclear power and clean coal and tax incentives for conservation.
U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) stumped for additions to the Senate bill that protect U.S. jobs and “improve the competitiveness of American manufacturers, invest in new clean energy technologies, and target more relief to consumers in coal states. We must also address the issue of carbon leakage – if manufacturing is shifted to higher-polluting countries, this would undermine efforts to improve both the economy and environment.”
To that end Brown has put forth the Investments for Manufacturing Progress and Clean Technology (IMPACT) Act of 2009, “legislation that would help transform former auto suppliers and other small and mid-sized manufacturers to begin to produce clean energy technologies. This legislation, which is estimated to create more that 680,000 direct manufacturing jobs and nearly 2 million indirect jobs over five years, must be a component of climate change legislation.”
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Update: There’s more!
Andy Wilson, Global Warming Program Director for Public Citizen in Texas said Boxer-Kerry is “… an improvement in some ways over Waxman-Markey and its billions in giveaways to polluting special interests, the discussion draft put forth by Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and John Kerry (D-Mass.) still punts on many of the most contentious issues, such as how and to whom emissions allowances will be allocated or auctioned.”
They’re calling for changes including 100 percent of the emissions credits to be auctioned, the removal of any nuclear power incentives, and less reliance on offsets from overseas projects as a way to meet emissions reduction goals.
The United States Climate Action Partnership (USCAP), the industry group that has pushed hardest for a cap-and-trade bill, said the bill was an important step but that they would study it further and continue to work with the Senate on the bill. The group didn’t outright endorse Waxman-Markey either.

“America must choose between two clear paths: One leads us to clean energy and climate solutions, the other to inaction,” USCAP said in a statement.

Victor Flatt, our own guest blogger, commented on his other blog at the Center for Progressive Reform says the Senate bill does a better job of ensuring offset integrity and linking with other carbon reduction schemes, but there’s plenty of issues.

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