global warming bills

After years of being sidelined in DC, global warming finally took congressional center stage in June '08 - with the Senate debating a bill that would notch down greenhouse gas emissions by 63% by 2050.

Given the president is likely to veto any climate change bill with mandatory caps on emissions, though, the debates this year are mostly for show - but they could set up the terms for a global warming bill that has a good shot at passing next year.

To help our readers keep track of what's in the bills Congress is seriously considering, CitizenJoe offers this running tally.

In the Senate

The frontrunner bill in the Senate, S 3036 (which is a version of S 2191 plus a bunch of changes), came up for debate the week of June 2, when senators were poised to offer up a bunch of amendments. Debate didn't get far, though, with the bill being pulled within a few days.

The bill

  • goals: the Senate's bill would set a goal of bringing greenhouse gas emissions down by about 66% by 2050 (setting a target of 71% in emission cuts for most greenhouse gas emitters)
  • method: cuts would be acheived by setting up a "cap and trade" system that sets limits on how much green house gas different industries can emit and notching down those caps over time. Meanwhile corporations can "trade" some of their ability to emit gases - that way a big emitter can either choose to figure out a way to cut down on how much they spew or can pay off another company to be super-clean and, in effect, balance out its emissions.
  • impact on gas prices: senators are likely to bring up how the cost to industry will translate into higher gas prices. Predictions vary, but could be anywhere from 50cents (EPA) and a buck (Heritage) a gallon by 2030.

The amendments

A few amendments that may come up in debating S 3036 include

  • nulear energy: as the bill stands, it doesn't encourage nuclear power to be part of the global warming solution. Some senators may try to change that, proposing amendments that would give incentives for the development of new nuclear power plants, arguing that nuclear energy does nothing to heat up the atmosphere. Anti-nuke advocates, who caution that nuclear waste creates problems of its own, of course will try to stand in their way.
  • consumer rebates: senators may also offer up a handful of proposals on how to use the $7 trillion (over 40 years) that the bill would churn up from selling off emission credits. Options include sending that cash back to consumers either through tax refunds for all, directed consumer tax credits for energy use or credits to utility companies that can be passed along to the consumer.
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