Democrats Face ‘Ferocious Infighting’ Over Global Warming Legislation
April 11, 2008
Posted By Marc Morano – 3:14 PM ET – Marc_Morano@EPW.Senate.Gov
Democrats Face ‘Ferocious Infighting’ Over Global Warming Legislation
Boxer-Dingell Differences Likely Mean No Global Warming Bill in 2008
While Senate Democrats, lead by Sen. Barbara Boxer, vow to play “hardball” with any Senator come Election Day who stands in the way of passing Lieberman-Warner, Boxer may need to start playing hardball with members from her own party – over in the House of Representatives. Rep. John Dingell, (D-Mich,) chairman of the House Energy Committee, warned this week that “ferocious infighting” could hinder passage of any global warming cap-and-trade bill.
In addition, an April 9 Congress Daily headline further revealed “Expectations Dim For Passing Climate Change Legislation” and House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) told reporters this week that “he had his doubts that a major cap-and-trade bill would become law in 2008.”
During a March 12 press conference with liberal special interest groups by her side, Senator Barbara Boxer, chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, vowed to “pull” the Lieberman-Warner global warming cap-and-trade bill from the Senate Floor if “weakening amendments” are added during the scheduled June 2008 floor debate. Senator Boxer also pledged to use the failed bill as a political tool during this election year. “We will hold those who weaken the Bill accountable in November,” Boxer said in March. This is in sharp contrast to Boxer’s earlier December 5, 2007, comments expressing hope that nuclear and other amendments will be “addressed when we get to the Floor.”
Meanwhile, over in the House of Representatives, Rep. John Dingell, (D-Mich), chairman of the House Energy Committee – responsible for climate change legislation in the House -- warned this week that “ferocious infighting” could delay passage of any House bill, reports Ian Talley of Dow Jones News Service in his April 8 article, Key US Rep Outlines Draft CO2 Policies; Warns Of Infighting, Dingell. Talley also reports that Dingell’s global warming proposal would, unlike Senator Boxer’s bill, “encourage nuclear and coal-fired generation, take into account the timeline needed to develop carbon sequestration technology, and help avoid a squeeze on natural gas supplies.” (See: Committee Mark-Up Exposes Serious Flaws in Lieberman-Warner Bill; Nuclear Not Included in Cap-and-Trade Bill DEMOCRATS OPPOSE AMENDMENT TO ENSURE AN ADEQUATE SUPPLY OF NATURAL GAS; DEMOCRATS VOTE AGAINST AMENDMENT TO PROTECT POOR FROM RISING ENERGY COSTS; DEMOCRATS VOTE AGAINST AMERICAN AUTOMOTIVE MANUFACTURING JOBS )
With the leading Democrats in the House and Senate feuding, it won’t be long until the American public begins to question why Senate Democrats continue to push for Senate Floor action on a bill that has little or no chance of passing the Congress, let alone being signed into law by President Bush. American’s concerned about the economic downturn, the slumping housing market and rising gas prices, are unlikely to tolerate a ‘de-stimulus’ climate bill that will further exacerbate their economic pain.
Another Bad Week for Lieberman-Warner Climate Bill
Bad news for the beleaguered climate bill continues to accumulate as estimates for the bill’s economic harm become clearer. Below is a sampling of the latest news about the Lieberman-Warner bill and international cap-and-trade efforts.
News Round UpKey House Democrat Warns of ‘Ferocious Infighting’ Over Climate Bills – April 8, 2008 – Wall Street Journal
Excerpt: The chairman of the House energy committee Tuesday broadly outlined his draft climate change policies to cut greenhouse gas emissions, but warned that "ferocious infighting" could delay passage of any bill. Veteran lawmaker Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., said his proposal would encourage nuclear and coal-fired generation, take into account the timeline needed to develop carbon sequestration technology, and help avoid a squeeze on natural gas supplies. Industry experts say Dingell will likely provide a foil to Congressional Democrats who are seeking to implement more aggressive emission reduction targets in early years in an effort to combat global warming. A slower implementation of emission cuts would correlate to lower prices per ton of emission produced in early years. "It will involve some of the most ferocious infighting that we've ever seen," Dingell told an energy conference, referring to the political divisions on the Hill. "It's not just a possibility, it's a reality," he said. Although he said he would like to have legislation passed by the end of the year, given the complexity of the issue and disagreements among lawmakers, Dingell indicated next year was a more likely scenario. Last month, Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairwoman Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., said she would withdraw climate change legislation expected to head to the Senate floor in June if there were any attempts to "weaken" the bill.
Excerpt: House Energy and Commerce Chairman John Dingell and key Senate aides in both parties today gave guarded and sometimes pointedly pessimistic opinions about whether Congress can get climate change legislation signed into law this year. Dingell -- speaking to reporters after delivering remarks at a conference hosted by the Energy Information Administration -- declined to provide a timetable for delivering a global warming bill this year. He also echoed the sentiments expressed by House Speaker Pelosi last week. "I think the speaker is coming to the same necessary conclusion I am and that is we can only move so fast," Dingell said. Whether legislation can be adopted this year "is not something which I can intelligently address this morning," he said at the conference. Dingell told reporters that his idea of instituting a carbon tax as a way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is likely not going to score political points. "I'm a realist," he said. "A carbon tax has not seemed to achieve much in the way of support." Pelosi told reporters April 1 that she hopes to push a plan this year to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through a market-based emissions cap-and-trade program, but added that she thought it unlikely that Congress could pass a bill acceptable to Democrats this year. In his remarks to the conference, Dingell emphasized his committee is trying to finish a bill "as quickly as possible [but] we are more concerned with doing it well." He said his committee is "receiving very little help from the administration." Bush administration officials and many Republicans have been wary of the economic effects of a cap-and-trade program.
Lieberman-Warner Climate Bill Called a 'Pork' Bill by Greens! (Note: The ‘pork’ will flow to a federal carbon board described by Missouri Senator Kit Bond as a ‘Rube Goldberg’ approach. LINK )
Excerpt: But [Lieberman-Warner] is so big, so complicated, and gets the important details so wrong that it will make it extremely politically difficult to unpack. Worse, it will give green cover to politicians who don't want to take hard actions on GHG reduction but were able to get some pork thrown back to their district. (And make no mistake: with over $1 trillion of GHG revenue that has to go back to the Beltway before it can get distributed, there is one heck of a lot of pork-centive in this bill.) […]My fear? That GHG (greenhouse gas) policy has been a holy grail of the environmental community for so long that we may well be throwing support behind a bill with a great headline but lousy details. We deserve better ... but only if we demand better.
Green Ink: Lambasting Lieberman-Warner – April 9, 2008 – Wall Street Journal Blog
Excerpt: Environmentalists are increasingly leery of the Lieberman-Warner climate change bill, which some say does too little, too late. Grist takes a look at the bill’s biggest weaknesses, and points to one big fear in the environmental community: The desire for any climate bill is so strong, the end product may be far from perfect. Canadian cement companies grapple with their own fears of climate regulation, invoking the specter of “carbon leakage” to Asian cement producers, in the Vancouver Sun.
Senate GOP goes behind closed doors to debate Lieberman-Warner bill – April 9, 2008 - E&ENews (subscription required)
Excerpt: Senate Republicans wrestled with the need for a major change in U.S. global warming policy today during a closed-door luncheon in the Capitol. The 90-minute meeting gave more than 40 GOP senators a chance to have their say on a climate bill that Senate Democratic leaders have scheduled for floor debate in early June. Sens. John Warner (R-Va.) and James Inhofe (R-Okla.) led the discussion, taking opposing sides on legislation that Warner co-authored with Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.). After the meeting, Inhofe told reporters he did not broach the scientific evidence linking humans to climate change but instead focused his arguments on the costs of reducing U.S. emissions. "I think people realize that the cap-and-trade solution, whether it's Warner's or somebody else, doesn't work, hasn't worked and won't work," Inhofe said. "I think the majority of people had that view." In an interview, Warner said he was not so sure he changed any minds. "It was just a good, free, open discussion," he said. "If I look back on this, I was the one who finally got this side of the aisle to begin to think on it." The climate-themed luncheon -- in the planning stage for three months -- marked the first time that the Senate Republican conference had met on the issue, said Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), the conference chairman.
Senate to Take Up Cap-and-Trade Bill June 2; Boxer Draws Line in Sand on State's Rights – April 10, 2008 – BNA
Excerpt: The Senate will take up legislation that would mandate U.S. reductions in greenhouse gas emissions June 2, with supporters bracing themselves for a flurry of amendments seeking to strengthen, weaken, or even scuttle the bill, the chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee said April 9. "We are going to bring this bill to the floor June 2. That is the date" scheduled by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), according to Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), who chairs the environment committee. Boxer, who has already warned opponents that she would pull the cap-and-trade bill (S. 2191) off the floor if they appear to be on the verge of seriously weakening the measure, said she would spend the next four weeks seeking support from 60 senators needed to end the threat of a filibuster and begin floor debate. […] Boxer told BNA after her summit remarks that she has already "drawn a line in the sand" in opposing any amendments that would preempt California and other states from requiring deeper emissions cuts than those set out in the federal legislation. "That's the line in the sand for me," Boxer said. "We either allow the states to do more and encourage them to do more if they want to, or there is not going to be" progress on reducing U.S. emissions. She added that she would pull the bill if opponents appeared to have the votes needed to pass an amendment preempting state action.
THE $100 BILLION WINDFALL: WHY UTILITIES LOVE CAP-AND-TRADE – April 7, 2008 – Wall Street Journal Blog
Excerpt: Another cautionary tale about how not to fight climate change: By giving away greenhouse-gas emissions permits for free, Europe may hand power companies windfall profits of up to 71 billion euros—about $100 billion—and undermine the fight to curb emissions. That’s the conclusion of a new study carried out by carbon-market analysts Point Carbon and commissioned by environmental group WWF, a long-time supporter now critical of Europe’s ill-starred emission-trading scheme. […] As the U.S. mulls its own climate-change bills, all three Presidential candidates advocate requiring utilities to pay for at least a majority of their emission permits. Yet some big American power companies are demanding they get their permits for free. The report from Point Carbon — a consultancy that stands to gain from a bigger market in emission permits — frowns on free credits:
Maryland Global Warming Bill Dies ‘Amid Worries The Bill Would Cost Jobs’ - The Associated Press, 8 April 2008
International cap-and-trade called ‘abject failure’ – April 8, 2008 – Benny Peiser in Financial Post
Paper: Cutting carbon emissions futile – New Zealand Herald April 7, 2008
Excerpt: Will cutting our carbon emissions really make any difference to the planet? The answer is a definite no, and most of the proposals to do so are ludicrously inadequate anyway. Take Australia, for example, where about 135 million incandescent light bulbs are in use. The Government wants to ban them by 2010 to cut the nation's greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 800,000 tonnes a year by 2012. If this sounds a lot, bear in mind that it represents a reduction of just 0.14 per cent. American journalist Robert Samuelson derides such tiny cuts as part of a feel-good political culture that is mostly about showing off, not curbing greenhouse gas emissions, and is made worse by politicians who pander to green constituents who want to feel good about themselves. Grandiose goals are declared, he writes, but measures to achieve them are deferred or don't exist. He adds that it's all just a delusional exercise in public relations that, while not helping the environment, might hurt the economy. Samuelson is right that such puny cuts are ludicrous as a means of preventing global warming. Why? Just take a look at China, which is scheduled to build 562 coal-fired power plants over the next five years. That's more than two a week.China's annual carbon emissions of 1.3 billion tonnes have already overtaken those of Europe and will exceed those of the United States this year. […]This is the most troubling aspect of the entire global warming issue: why should the rest of the world go out of its way to reduce greenhouses gases, when China belches out fumes and tears down forests with impunity? The relatively trivial savings the rest of us make in greenhouse gas emissions are more than offset by China's determination to pollute as much as it wants.
Carbon Copy: Europe’s Still Not Cutting Emissions - April 2, 2008 – Wall Street Journal
Excerpt: It’s not a surprise but a bummer nonetheless: Greenhouse-gas emissions are still rising in Europe despite lots of autographs on the Kyoto Protocol and an elaborate cap-and-trade system. Early analysis of data out today from the European Commission shows that emissions rose about 1.1% last year to 1.9 billion metric tons. That’s after similar increases in 2005 and 2006. Banks, carbon traders, utilities, and everybody else with a dog in the fight has been watching the numbers to see what they mean for the price of carbon emissions on the European exchanges, which account for more than 70% of the $60 billion global carbon market. With emissions rising—and Europe hoping to finally clean up its act by strangling the supply of free emissions permits—the smart money says carbon will get pricier. European carbon permits traded in London rose about 4% today to 23.45 euros.
NO CLIMATE AGREMENT WITHOUT INDIA, CHINA – April 2, 2008 - Rediff India
Excerpt: The US Congress will not ratify any global climate change agreement if India is not a party to it. Congressman James Sensenbrenner, the senior most Republican was among the high-powered delegation of US lawmakers, led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that visited India last month. This delegation focused on global warming and energy among other issues. Sensenbrenner said, "While we have differences on how to accomplish greenhouse gas emissions that will be debated extensively in the House of Representatives in the weeks and months to come, one thing we are united on is that for any type of a global warming agreement to work it has to be worldwide in nature." "And that includes the participation of India and China," he emphasised. Sensenbrenner, of Wisconsin, who is the ranking GOP member of the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, warned that "if we fail to engage India and China in a global treaty, then what will happen is that the United States will simply be at an economic disadvantage as the Chinese and the Indians keep expanding their economy and using coal and other types of fossil fuels to do so." Saying that there is bipartisan consensus among both Republicans and Democrats, the lawmaker reiterated that "any treaty that does not include India and China and the Third World, will not be ratified by the US Senate," and pointed out that this has been made clear by Senator John F Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat, as recently as last week during his trip to East Asia.
Excerpt: THE Australian delegation to climate change talks in Bangkok has turned the clock back to the Howard era by failing to back binding greenhouse targets, environment group Greenpeace says. Negotiators from more than 160 nations are taking part in the first round of UN-led talks since last December's Bali meeting to advance plans for a new global greenhouse treaty. According to Greenpeace activists in Bangkok, Australian delegation leader Jan Adams yesterday reverted to Howard government rhetoric of supporting US-style, long-term aspirational goals rather than binding targets. […]
Excerpt: The Civil Society Report on Climate Change has been prepared by 41 civil society organisations present in more than 30 countries. The report has also summarised background papers of some eminent names in the field who have been critical of "undue hype" given to climate change. […] It argues that technology advancement in the field has been overlooked. Questioning the "scaremongering" over the Kyoto Protocol by the agencies involved, this new report says that the post-Kyoto Protocol hype is an attempt to convince developing countries that a post-Kyoto Protocol agreement with binding targets and timetables for emission reductions is necessary. The report has suggested that instead of pushing emission restrictions and "failed" policies, governments should focus on reducing barriers to economic growth and adaptation methods. Charging the IPCC report of being "inconsistent" in the forecasts of disease incidence, saying that millions of people continue to suffer even when the so-called climate change effects are not obvious, which means that what is needed is for the international community to address the problem of vaccination and treatment to these diseases like malaria and tuberculosis. The report argues that death rate from climate related natural disasters has drastically reduced since the 1920s due to economic growth and technological development and it is going to further reduce regardless of climate change.
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