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:
Well, there’s remarkable stuff going on up on the hill today. Thanks to the persistence of Nancy Pelosi (and others), the energy bill has been …
Okay, the committee website picked the feed back. It can be accessed here. In the intervening hour or so, a Cardin amendment -- to fund federal agencies involved in L-W enforcement with money raised from the auction -- passed. So did an amendment offered by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) to create a bonus system for renewable energy modeled on the bill's existing bonus system for carbon capture, and a Lautenberg amendment offering to authorize the National Academy of Sciences to study GHG emissions associated with flying. All Republican-offered amendments since my previous post have failed.
Good news: I got three guys to put up a total of $1000 against the bet in my recent post, "Ice, ice, maybe (not)": It is very safe to say the Arctic Sea will be essentially ice free by 2030, and I'd personally bet on 2020 -- any takers? Not-so-good news: The "takers" are not global warming doubters, quite the reverse -- they are three well-known and knowledgeable climate bloggers -- James Annan, William Connolley, and Brian Schmidt -- and James and William are certifiable climate experts. That said, I think I'm going to win this, as I'll explain. I estimate the odds at at least 2 to 1 in my favor -- no, this isn't the same kind of 100-to-1 lock the hydrogen bet is -- though James, William, and Brian have, unintentionally, given me (slightly) better-than-even odds. Let's start with the bet: At no time between now and the end of the year 2020 will the minimum total Arctic Sea ice extent be less than 10 percent of the 1979-2000 average minimum annual Arctic Sea ice extent, as measured by NSIDC data or any other measurement mutually agreed-upon; provided, however, that if two or more volcanic eruptions with the energy level equal to or greater than the 1991 Mount Pinatubo shall occur between now and the end of 2020, then all bets are voided. The 10 percent minimum covers me against straggling ice. I also asked for the two-Pinatubo voiding -- I didn't want to lose this bet if warming is temporarily slowed by an unusual series of big volcanoes. Why will I win?
It seems like C-SPAN only planned to broadcast the first three hours of the markup session. Either way, their coverage ended, which means that for now, so must mine. It looks very much like this bill will be favorably reported out of committee. Expect more commentary throughout the day.