byron dorganByron Dorgan

Sen. Byron Dorgan says he wants to address climate change: “I think there is enough science out there to suggest something is going on.” But he opposes the cap-and-trade approach. “I’m in favor of taking action to reduce CO2 emissions and to protect our environment. But I don’t support the ‘cap-and-trade’ plan now being debated in the Congress,” he wrote in a recent editorial in The Bismarck Tribune.

He is critical of using a “market-based” approach to reducing carbon, and says he wants more “reasonable timelines” for reductions. He also argues that a majority of the revenue raised from a carbon cap should go to offset energy price increases for consumers.

Dorgan is particularly concerned about manipulation of a carbon market. “I’m not very interested with having a bunch of folks with a bunch of money get their mitts on trading credits, and have our future and our destiny tied to their interests,” he said in April. “I feel very strongly there’s something going on with our climate. We need to be attentive to it, we need to deal with it, but as we do, we have to be smart.”

He acknowledges that climate legislation is needed, but at a May event in North Dakota, he said it “may not be this year. May not even have the votes next year.”

Dorgan will want a climate bill to offer support for the coal and agriculture sectors. During debate on last year’s Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act (which he voted to kill), Dorgan offered an amendment to increase funding for carbon-capture-and-sequestration (CCS) technology.

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This year, during debate on the energy bill that the Energy and Natural Resources Committee passed in June, he again pressed for CCS funding. “We need a future in which we continue to use our most abundant resource, and that’s coal,” said Dorgan. He also called for more funding for loan guarantees for nuclear power and better plans for storage of nuclear waste. “I think nuclear power will play some role in the development of future energy capabilities,” he said.

At the same time, Dorgan is a cheerleader for wind energy, seeing as there’s plenty of it blowing across his state. He wanted a stronger renewable electricity standard in the energy bill, and plans to push for it on the Senate floor.

See also: Joseph Romm explains why he thinks Dorgan could be convinced to support climate legislation.

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