From an awesomely meaty article on cap-and-trade from The San Francisco Chronicle comes this pearl of wisdom (in bold at the bottom of the quote): [T]he lesson of the acid rain program is to keep the plan simple and easy for all parties to understand. "If it starts to employ a lot of special provisions to take care of every party's special needs ... and if it starts to look like the Chicago phone book, then throw it out," [RFF economist Dallas Burtraw] said. "A poorly designed market is worse than no market at all." I'm not sure I'd go quite that far -- a carbon market's a pretty important thing, and I'd be willing to live with a less-than-perfect system if it's the only one that's politically feasible. That said, amen to the virtues of simplicity! Obviously, when designing a cap-and-trade program, there will be all sorts of pressure to create special interest loopholes, or dole out goodies to favored constituencies. Over the short-term, that might seem like smart politics -- but over the long-term, the political drawbacks of a clunky, unworkable program will far exceed any short-term benefits.
Here is a short, painful four-minute news report about palm oil plantations -- watch it and weep:
The U.S. EPA should regulate greenhouse-gas emissions from aircraft going in and out of U.S. airports, say five states that filed a petition today. “The EPA has abdicated its responsibility in this area for years, and it won’t do its job until it’s legally required to do so,” says California Attorney General Jerry Brown, who joined with Connecticut, New Jersey, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, D.C., and New York City to marvel at the incompetence of the country’s environmental agency. A gaggle of green groups filed a separate, similar petition. Air travel is responsible for about 3 percent of U.S. greenhouse-gas emissions, …
Senator Lieberman also opposes Sanders' amendment -- which just failed -- to allow the EPA to strengthen the cap if the law-as-passed proves insufficiently effective.
This is a big one. Sanders No. 4 would make the goal of the bill to reduce emissions by 80 (as opposed to about 70) percent by 2050. As the bill is written, the reductions in Lieberman-Warner (under the cap, and otherwise) don't meet the mark. Sanders says, "while it is fine that we reach a political agreement here, the scientific community is telling us that the agreement we are reaching here does not do the job that has to be done." Lieberman, by contrast, says, "I don't think we can get the bill out of the committee with 80 percent." Perhaps he might have taken a moment to consider whether this amendment -- an aspirational amendment -- could have passed if he, the bill's author, had supported it. Instead, he opposed it, and the amendment failed. Meanwhile, Lieberman jokingly referred to his success in a college science class he referred to as "geology and astrology [sic] ... rocks and stars". This is the guy writing our climate legislation.
You may have heard about the Fossil Awards given at the United Nations Bali climate negotiations. A collaboration between a number of youth delegations and Avaaz.org, the awards are given to nations whose delegates have obstructed progress during the course of the talks. Here's a first-hand account of the first daily Fossil Awards ceremony, when Canada won the infamous prize. Yesterday, Japan managed to win first, second, and third place for threatening to pull out of the Kyoto protocol. Check out this video of the ceremony:
Sanders' amendment -- Sanders #3 -- would have required CCS-equipped plants to sequester at least 85 percent of their pollution in order to be eligible for additional free allowances. That's what the bill used to mandate, before it was changed earlier this month. Sanders tried to change it back and was voted down with 13 "nays," including one from his usual ally Barbara Boxer. Sanders' support of this bill may be irrelevant to its passage through committee. But if snubs like this aren't enough to convince him to continue to oppose Lieberman-Warner, it will be a sign that deep greens have lost all support in the Senate.
Two amendments introduced by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) -- allowing seaside states to use their pollution allowances to respond to the coastal impacts of climate change -- passed. But before that, Sen. Carper withdrew an amendment to give away allowances "based on output of electricity instead of historical emissions." And so the meaty amendments disappear.
The Senate convened today at noon, and Republicans raised a stink about it. Why so late? Important business to attend to! It had to do with the 150 amendments that EPW committee Republicans brought with them to the markup hearing. The long and short of it is that, by Senate rules, any senator can object to the continuance of any committee meetings that continue beyond the first four hours that the Senate is in session. If the committee meeting and the floor session had, as usual, started close to the same time, the markup might have ended at 1 pm. This buys them two-and-a-half additional hours at least -- a helpful gesture from the Senate leader in the face of this sort of obstructionism. His floor statement and an unofficial transcript of this morning's proceedings are reprinted below the fold:
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