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With three of the major presidential candidates in favor of a cap-and-trade system on greenhouse gas emissions, it looks like we may soon have a trading scheme for carbon dioxide. There are already seven different bills in Congress, all suggesting variations on a carbon-trading scheme. We’ve aggregated them here for you and pointed out the nuances of each.
For those of you who don’t remember your “Schoolhouse Rock!” civics lessons, a bill must first be introduced by a congressperson. From there it is sent to the proper committees to be debated as to whether it is worthy of a full vote. Once both the House and Senate vote, the bill heads to the Oval Office for the presidential signature or veto.
S.2191: America’s Climate Security Act of 2007
Sponsor: Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-CT), Introduced: Oct. 18, 2007
With fewer big-name cosponsors, the “Lieberman-Warner” bill could have some extra bipartisan support from cosponsor Sen. John Warner (R-Va.), though he was the only Republican to vote for it in committee. The bill wants the head of the EPA to establish a cap-and-trade system and not much else. It removes the many responsibilities S.280 gave the Secretary of Commerce and adds a variety of provisos to protect the U.S. economy from suffering under the cap-and-trade regime. It could likely serve as a baseline for amendments.
Last action: 12/5/2007, Committee on Environment and Public Works voted and passed the bill out of committee. The bill is now headed to the Senate floor for debate but has not yet been scheduled.
S.280: Climate Stewardship and Innovation Act of 2007
Sponsor: Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.), Introduced: Jan. 12, 2007
Lieberman introduced his “Climate Stewardship and Innovation Act” with co-sponsor Sen. McCain; Sen. Obama was also an initial cosponsor, while Sen. Clinton signed on two weeks later. The bill would establish the Climate Change Credit Corporation. The EPA Administrator would be charged with creating and maintaining the National Greenhouse Gas Database, as well as determining the rate of decline of the capped emissions. A large part of the bill’s “innovation” falls to the Secretary of Commerce, who is in charge of various efforts to stimulate “technologies that result in reduced [greenhouse gas] emissions,” as well as specific wording to further research in nuclear energy.
Last action: July 24, 2007, Committee on Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Private Sector and Consumer Solutions to Global Warming and Wildlife Protection. Hearings held.
S.317: Electric Utility Cap and Trade Act of 2007
Sponsor: Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA). Introduced: Jan. 17, 2007
The bill seeks to establish a greenhouse gas trading-scheme headed by the EPA Administrator but doesn’t clearly say who will regulate the trading. It does, however, specifically outline connecting the federal trading scheme to state level, even international emissions trading projects. Climate science research also gets a lot of lip service, including specific efforts to promote research into “the increase in sea levels from polar ice sheet-melting.”
Last Action: Jan. 17, 2007: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Environment and Public Works.
S.1766: Low Carbon Economy Act of 2007
Sponsor: Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), Introduced: July 11, 2007
This bill seeks to establish an emissions trading scheme but doesn’t specify a cap, declining or otherwise, and would allow emitters to compensate any emissions credit shortage by depositing money into the Energy Technology Deployment Fund. It also says that the market for these credits — and all decision-making related to allowing international credits to be traded — would reside with the president. While it doesn’t facilitate any clean energy-generation programs, the bill would provide credits for carbon sequestration projects and improved home energy-efficiency projects.
Last Action: Aug 2, 2007: Sponsor introductory remarks on measure.
H.R. 1590: Safe Climate Act of 2007
Sponsor: Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), Introduced: March 20, 2007
By far the most popular cap-and-trade bill, with a whopping 149 cosponsors, this act is very specific in its demands. It directs the EPA Administrator to establish a cap-and-trade to achieve a 2 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions each year from 2010 through 2050. It also requires that 20 percent of America’s electricity come from renewable sources by 2020 and that federal vehicular emissions standards match those set by the California Air Resources Board.
Last action: 3/21/2007 Referred to House Subcommittee on Energy and Air Quality.
H.R. 620: Climate Stewardship Act of 2007
Sponsor: Rep. John Olver (D-Mass.), Introduced: Jan. 22, 2007
This bill borrows a lot of language from its aforementioned sister bill in the Senate (S.280). It seeks the same Climate Change Credit Corporation to moderate a trading scheme, as well as the head of the EPA to establish a National Greenhouse Gas Database and set the declining cap on emission credits. Unlike S.280, it does not include a laundry list of greenhouse gas-reducing technological efforts on the part of the Secretary of Commerce. The bill also has a respectable 135 cosponsors.
Last Action: Feb. 7, 2007, Referred to the Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, and Oceans.
H.R. 4226: Climate Stewardship and Economic Security Act of 2007
Sponsor: Rep. Wayne Gilchrest (R-Md.), Introduced: Nov. 15, 2007
On the “climate stewardship” side, this bill is identical to Olver’s “Climate Stewardship Act.” The difference is on the “economic security” side. It establishes the Carbon Market Efficiency Board, which can bail out any market sector that seems to be suffering under the cap-and-trade system.
Last Action: Nov. 20, 2007, referred to the Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife and Oceans.