We, the human species, are confronting a planetary emergency – a threat to the survival of our civilization that is gathering ominous and destructive potential even as we gather here. But there is hopeful news as well: we have the ability to solve this crisis and avoid the worst – though not all – of its consequences, if we act boldly, decisively and quickly.
However, despite a growing number of honorable exceptions, too many of the world’s leaders are still best described in the words Winston Churchill applied to those who ignored Adolf Hitler’s threat: “They go on in strange paradox, decided only to be undecided, resolved to be irresolute, adamant for drift, solid for fluidity, all powerful to be impotent.”
Gore went on to warn that arctic sea ice is melting faster than previously expected, and that U.S. navy researchers estimate we may have ice-free Arctic Ocean as early as the summer of 2014.
CQ reports that yesterday evening a bipartisan deal was struck on how to manage the farm bill debate. The deal limits the number of amendments evenly between parties at twenty each. The farm bill had been stalled before the Thanksgiving recess and is under a veto threat.
As Sen. Reid announced this morning on the Senate floor, Sens. Harken and Chambliss will be managing the amendment process. Votes on the amendments and the bill will take place on Tuesday, December 11.
By a vote of 235-181, the House of Representatives passed the version of H.R. 6 which contains both House and Senate provisions (CAFE of 35 MPG by 2020, RES of 15% by 2020, oil/gas rollback with PTC, green jobs, and other provisions, RFS).
Today marks the dawn of a future with less dependence on foreign oil, more renewable energy, and a safer climate. This bill marks a turning point away from America’s untenable path of reliance on dirty fossil fuels that pollute our planet and link us to dangerous foreign regimes and towards a new energy independence future.
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.
The timetable for House action on a sweeping energy bill appeared to be slipping Wednesday, as lawmakers attempted to nail down final details of the package.
The Rules Committee was still waiting to see exact language of the comprehensive measure (HR 6), casting doubt on whether the bill would reach the floor before Thursday.
Legislative aides said details still needed to be worked out on the measure’s tax provisions, which could require adjustment to cover a possible $1 billion shortfall in meeting pay-as-you-go budget rules.
Democratic leaders also were working to whip up votes for what is expected to be a close vote in the House, and to placate the White House, which earlier this week said it was considering a veto of the bill if it repeals subsidies for big oil companies and requires 15 percent of electricity produced by 2020 to come from renewable sources like wind and solar. . .
Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, D-S.D., said she believed that the bill would win support from enough Blue Dogs to pass the House.
“It will have the support of some of them. I hope it will be enough,” she said.
But Rep. Gene Green, D-Texas, said Tuesday that he would not support the legislation because it would repeal tax breaks for oil and gas companies.
Another Blue Dog, Agriculture Chairman Collin C. Peterson, D-Minn., said he had been told the floor vote on the bill would probably slip to Thursday.
The House of Representatives is planning to vote this afternoon on the energy bill compromise, following an emergency meeting of the House Rules Committee yesterday evening to allow for “consideration of the Senate amendments to the bill (H.R. 6) to reduce our Nation’s dependency on foreign oil by investing in clean, renewable, and alternative energy resources, promoting new emerging energy technologies, developing greater efficiency, and creating a Strategic Energy Efficiency and Renewables Reserve to invest in alternative energy, and for other purposes.”
The morning part of the session was carried live on C-SPAN 2.
Sen. Bond’s chart from his opening statement:
Amendments adopted: Sanders low-carbon manufacturing incentives, Lautenberg decoupling incentives, Cardin good government.
Amendments rejected: Craig offramps, Inhofe auto-industry job offramp, Bond low-income family cost-relief, Isakson nuclear title, Voinovich available-tech offramp.
Amendment withdrawn: Carper multiple-pollutant title.
Tomorrow morning’s Environment and Public Works markup of the Lieberman-Warner climate bill (S. 2191) promises to be long and contentious, quite possibly to be extended to Thursday. Republicans have proposed over 150 amendments, with Sen. Craig offering 46; EE News reports they expect votes on upwards of 50 of the amendments. Democrats have submitted about 30 amendments.
Below is a summary of the amendments the senators of the committee are planning to submit, in addition to Sen. Boxer’s manager’s mark.
Major amendments include Sen. Clinton’s two amendments. The first establishes 100% auction of permits, and the second dramatically restricts CCS funding. Sanders #4 establishes an 80% target and #7 limits total offset permits. Vitter #10 restricts ownership of allowances primarily to covered entities. Carper #1 places caps on traditional air pollutants and Carper #2 bases permit giveaways to power sector on historical electricity production, not emissions. Isakson proposed various pro-nuclear amendments.
Friends of the Earth has highlighted five amendments they support.
As prefigured by John Dingell’s participation in the details of the CAFE component of the energy bill deal, the American auto industry is lending its support to the bill, a sharp reversal from its heavy lobbying against the standards in previous months.
Automakers, which have successfully blocked raising passenger car standards for more than two decades, objected to a 40 percent increase, saying it would cost them billions to comply and could force them to make fewer of their biggest, most profitable models.
But General Motors Corp. Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner said in a statement Saturday that the Detroit automaker will meet the new challenge.
“There are tough, new CAFE standards contained in the energy bill before Congress that pose a significant technical and economic challenge to the industry,” Wagoner said. “But, it’s a challenge that GM is prepared to put forth its best effort to meet with an array of engineering, research and development resources. We will continue our aggressive pursuit of advance technologies that will deliver more products with more energy solutions to our customers.”
Toyota Motor Corp. praised congressional leaders for “taking this very important step toward establishing new, aggressive nationwide fuel economy standards.”
“Toyota will not wait for new standards to be set, but will move forward expeditiously to apply advanced technologies to improve the fuel economy of our fleet,” said Jo Cooper, Toyota’s vice president for government affairs in North America.
Dave McCurdy, president and CEO of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, the trade group that represents Detroit’s Big Three, Toyota, Daimler AG and five other automakers, said “this tough, national fuel economy bill will be good for both consumers and energy security. We support its passage.” Mike Stanton, who is president and CEO and the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers, the trade group that represents Toyota, Honda Motor Co., Nissan Motor Co. and Hyundai Motor Co., among others, expects his members to support the compromise. “We wanted Congress to act,” Stanton said in an interview. “It’s not perfect, but I think we’re going to be pleased.”
- CAFE Standard: Increase fuel economy standards to 35 miles per gallon by 2020 for new cars and trucks
- Renewable Fuels Standard: Multiple-source domestic biofuels mandate with environmental safeguards
- Plug-in hybrid/electric vehicle tax credit and advanced vehicle incentives
- Repeal of $21 billion in tax subsidies for gas and oil companies (H.R. 6), international tax loophole closed, rollback of 2005 Energy Act tax breaks
- Renewable Electricity Standard: 15% by 2020 (4% may be efficiency)
- Efficiency Standards: new appliance and building standards
- Renewable Production Tax Credit and other incentives: extends existing PTC, funds renewable research, provides renewable energy bonds for power providers
- Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Worker Training Program
- Incentives for small business development of renewable energy technology
- Carbon Capture and Sequestration: R&D and clean coal incentives
Full details of the legislation are below the fold.