Sens Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.), along with co-sponsors, Senators Snowe, Obama, Collins, and Lincoln, have introduced the Climate Stewardship and Innovation Act of 2007. The bill contains a “declining cap” provision that cuts emissions steadily over time, managing costs while reducing pollution. The bill caps the global warming emissions of the electric power, industrial, transportation, and commercial sectors of the economy at year 2004 levels by 2012. It then lowers that cap steadily, to cut total U.S. emissions by two-thirds from year 2004 levels by 2050.
Lieberman had this statement on his website:
The most bipartisan of the Senate proposals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across all major sectors of the US economy, the new bill quickly won endorsements from the National Wildlife Federation, Environmental Defense, and the Pew Center on Global Climate Change. ...
The 2005 version of the Climate Stewardship and Innovation Act would have capped US greenhouse gas emissions at year 2000 levels without mandating further reductions. The new bill (S. 280) will gradually lower the emissions cap, such that it reaches approximately one third of 2000 levels by 2050. Those long-term reductions will forestall catastrophic, manmade climate change, provided the world’s other major economies follow suit within the next decade. Like the 2005 version, the reintroduced bill controls compliance costs by allowing companies to trade, save, and borrow emissions credits, and by allowing them to generate “offset” credits by inducing non-covered businesses, farms, and others to reduce their emissions or capture and store greenhouse gases. The reintroduced bill, however, increases the availability of borrowing and offsets in order to control costs further. ...
In a long statement McCain stated in part:
"As Senator Lieberman and I have continued working for passage of legislation to address climate change in a meaningful way, it has become clear to us that any responsible climate change measure must contain five essential components:
"1) it must have rational, mandatory emission reduction targets and timetables. It must be goal oriented, and have both environmental and economic integrity. We need policy that will produce necessary outcomes, not merely check political boxes. The goal must be feasible and based on sound science, and this is what we have tried to do in this bill."
2) "it must utilize a market-based cap and trade system. It must limit greenhouse gas emissions and allows the trading of emission credits to drive enterprise, innovation and efficiency. This is the central component of our legislation. Voluntary efforts will not change the status quo, taxes are counterproductive, and markets are more dependable than regulators in effecting sustainable change.
3) "it must include mechanisms to minimize costs and work effectively with other markets. The “trade” part of “cap and trade” is such a mechanism, but it’s clear it must be bolstered by other assurances that costs will be minimized. I am as concerned as anyone about the economic impacts associated with any climate change legislation. I know that many economists are developing increasingly sophisticated ways to project future costs of compliance. Lately, we have seen the increased interest in this area of research. As we learn more from these models about additional action items to further reduce costs, we intend to incorporate them. Already, based upon earlier economic analysis, we have added “offsets” provisions in this bill in an effort to minimize costs and to provide for the creation of new markets. And, I assure my colleagues, we will continue to seek new and innovative ways to further minimize costs.
4) "it must spur the development and deployment of advanced technology. Nuclear, solar, and other alternative energy must be part of the equation and we need a dedicated national commitment to develop and bring to market the technologies of the future as a matter of good environmental and economic policy. There will be a growing global market for these technologies and the U.S. will benefit greatly from being competitive and capturing its share of these markets. This legislation includes a detailed technology title that would go a long way toward meeting this goal. Unlike the Energy bill, it would be funded using the proceeds from the auctioning of allowable emission credits, rather than from the use of taxpayers' funds or appropriations that will never materialize.
5) "it must facilitate international efforts to solve the problem. Global warming is an international problem requiring an international effort. The United States has an obligation to lead. Our leadership cannot replace the need for action by countries such as India and China. We must spur and facilitate it. We have added provisions that would allow U.S. companies to enter into partnerships in developing countries for the purpose of conducting projects to achieve certified emission reductions, which may be traded on the international market."
The National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) objects to the nuclear provision with this statement:
... "one provision remains misguided. Despite the provision of billions of dollars in subsidies to the nuclear industry in the 2005 Energy Policy Act and over $85 billion in historical subsidies, the bill introduced today contains additional nuclear subsidies that NRDC continues to oppose. Additional giveaways to an industry made up of some of the world’s wealthiest firms are neither necessary nor warranted."
McCain advocates his position on nuclear power with the following (in part):
"Let me take a moment to address a section of our legislation that has been the target of some concerns by environmentalists and others--concerns that I believe are entirely unwarranted. The provisions in our bill to promote nuclear energy are an important part of the comprehensive technology package.
"I know that some of our friends here in the Senate and in the environmental community maintain strong objections to nuclear energy, even though today it supplies nearly 20 percent of the electricity generated in the U.S. and much higher proportions in places such as France, Belgium, Sweden and Switzerland: countries that are not exactly known for their environmental disregard. The fact is, nuclear energy is CLEAN. It produces ZERO emissions, while the burning of fossil fuels to generate electricity produces approximately 33 percent of the greenhouse gases accumulating in the atmosphere, and is a major contributor to air pollution affecting our communities.
"The idea that nuclear power should play no role in our future energy mix is an unsustainable position, particularly given the urgency and magnitude of the threat posed by global warming which most regard as the greatest environmental threat to the planet. ...
This bill represents a major step foreword in reducing the effects of global warming. McCain and Lieberman have introduced similar legislation into the 108th and 109th congresses and this represents an evolutionary version, presumably with some portions that will make it more acceptable as well as being introduced into a congress that is more likely to pass it. I could not find a complete copy of the bill, perhaps one of you can find it.
Regarding the nuclear provision, I agree with McCain that we must build some new nuclear plants with newer, safer technology that is more amenable to disposal of its waste. I think that this is the only way we can keep up with our incessant need for more power. To reduce our need for liquid fuels and emissions from vehicles we need to migrate to plug-in and electric powered cars. Our other electrical needs increase by less than 2% a year but that is a huge number in the number of power plants required to keep up with the need. Carbon capture and storage for coal powered plants is close to reality, but has not been demonstrated to date. This is likely to take five years. Admittedly building the first few nuclear plants will take longer, more likely on the order of 10 years.
Renewable energy is still in its infancy and will take at least 15 years before it can make a significant contribution to our power production.
The fastest action that can be taken is too place more emphasis on conservation. Lighting contributes to 30% of our residential electrical use and is the easiest form of conservation to implement. I urge everyone to use as many compact fluorescent lights a possible. Insulation in of walls and use of more energy efficient windows are equally important, but much more expensive, although they will pay for themselves in less than ten years and in some cases in less than five years. I would support legislation to require better insulation and energy efficient windows in all new construction, both residential and commercial.
Until it is shown that our electrical needs can be supplied by other sources I support building of at least four nuclear plants using the newest technology, so we have this option available if we need it for large scale deployment.
New Global Warming Bill Signals Momentum Growing for Effective Reductions, NRDC, Jan 12, 2007
Senator McCain Remarks on Climate Stewardship Act of 2007, US Senator McCain webpage, Jan. 12 2007
Lieberman, McCain Reintroduce Climate Stewardship and Innovation Act, US Senator Lieberman website, Jan. 12, 2007