Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Dingell & Boucher Release Draft Climate Change Bill

Oct 7: The House Energy & Commerce Committee, Chaired by Representative John Dingell (D-MI) and the Subcommittee on Energy and Air Quality, Chaired by Rick Boucher (D-VA) released their long-awaited "discussion draft" of climate change legislation. The draft is the culmination of nearly two years of intensive work on climate change by the Committee and according to the Chairmen, "marks an important step in our ongoing efforts to address this increasingly serious problem."

According to a memo to Committee member, "Politically, scientifically, legally, and morally, the questions has been settled: regulation of greenhouse gases in the United States is coming. We believe that elected and accountable representatives in the Congress, not the Executive Branch, should properly design that regulatory program. The only remaining question is what form that regulation will take. . . The discussion draft would establish an economy-wide cap on emissions of greenhouse gases. In the early years of the program, caps would be set at a level that is realistically achievable to ensure that firms are able to adjust gradually. By 2050, emissions from covered sources would be reduced to 80 percent below 2005 levels . . . The discussion draft presents four options concerning how emission allowances might be allocated to firms, States, consumers, and other areas. . . The demise of the climate change bill in the Senate earlier this year underscores the need to reach a broad bipartisan consensus.

The memo calls for "unprecedented investments" in existing and innovative technologies, rapid deployment of carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) and increased production of electricity from nuclear, wind, solar, tidal, geothermal and other sources. The memo requests persons review and comment on the draft "so that we may begin the next session of Congress more informed and better able to move legislation quickly."

An early response from Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) President Fred Krupp indicates, “The release today of new draft climate legislation . . . is further confirmation that passing cap and trade legislation remains high on the agenda of congressional lawmakers and a boost for prospects of a bill next year. We appreciate that Chairmen Dingell and Boucher are moving forward with their bill in this critical economic time for America. . . The near-term targets and timetables in the current draft of the proposal fall far short . . . EDF will continue to push for strong emissions reduction targets in the early years of the program as discussions move forward. Importantly, their proposal appears to manage costs without provisions that would bust the emissions cap. We look forward to working with the chairmen, along with leadership and the new president, to pass a bill that protects the climate and delivers the economic stimulus America needs now more than ever.”

Access the Text of the Draft Legislation; Executive Summary of the Discussion Draft; Memo to Members of the Committee; an Allocation Chart; and all background papers and committee meetings on the development of the legislation (
click here). Access the EDF statement on the draft (click here). [*Climate]