Smart ideas for post Lieberman-Warner climate policy
Lieberman-Warner had many, many, many, many, many problems. Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) has just done a bit of musing ($ub. req’d) on what the next effort ought to look like; he has done a rather eloquent job outlining the problems with Lieberman-Warner and suggesting what lessons we ought to take from its failure as we advance to a better model.
From Restructuring Today:
The Lieberman-Warner bill didn’t come close to making it through the Senate and climate legislation is dead this Congress, but Sen Jeff Bingaman, D-NM, doesn’t count that as an outright failure.
The debate in the Senate moved beyond arguments on the science of climate change and is now focused on the much tougher question of how to solve the problem, the chairman of the Energy & Natural Resources Committee noted in a speech yesterday.
To find a responsible solution, Congress will have to understand the scale of the problem global warming represents and the scale of the system we have in place for producing energy.
“On the one hand, if we fail to recognize how enormous and urgent the problem of climate change is, we will fail in our responsibility to act sensibly and soon,” said Bingaman.
“On the other hand, if we fail to recognize how enormous and difficult a task it is to change our energy system, we may embark on a course of action without making clear from the start the potential sacrifices involved.”
Bingaman laid out some principles he would like to see in any future legislation aimed at solving global warming.
The bill should be focused on cutting greenhouse gases and not be weighed down with proposals aimed at solving other goals. Climate change legislation shouldn’t be overly complex without carve-outs for different states or interests.
The bill shouldn’t be full of plans for the distant future, unlike the Lieberman-Warner bill that included appropriations 42 years into the future.
It makes more sense for the bill to use existing agencies and institutions to run its new laws, saving the time and expense of setting up new ones.
Emissions cutting goals need to be realistic, he added. If they are unattainable and out of synch with technology, they will only erode public support over time.
The cap-and-trade system needs assurances in place that the price won’t be excessively high or volatile — and Bingaman believes a price ceiling is best for that.
Technology needs investment before a cap-and-trade system is launched — as it will be vital to meeting goals.
Bingaman doesn’t want to see the federal system overlapping state programs. Once it’s in place, he believes it should usurp state and regional cap-and-trade systems because energy is a national issue with markets crossing state lines.
It’s like he’s been reading my posts! But I take this as cause for some optimism going forward. And a good sign that Bingaman gets it.