carl levinCarl Levin

Sen. Carl Levin is certainly concerned about climate change, but it’s unclear whether he will support the Kerry-Boxer climate bill. In this letter sent to a constituent in early November 2009, the senator stresses that other nations must commit to binding greenhouse-gas limits. He calls for a climate bill that will account for regional differences in the U.S., impose tariffs on goods from countries that haven’t committed to action, and preclude states from setting their own, tougher standards for automobile emissions (California, he’s talking to you): 

Dear [Constituent],

Thank you for contacting me regarding global climate change.

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There is an overwhelming consensus among scientists that global warming is occurring and that human activity is causing it. As a result, we need to act with urgency to reduce the levels of global greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere to prevent catastrophic impacts from occurring. During this century, scientists predict average temperatures could increase between 2 and 11 degrees Fahrenheit. Even small changes in average temperature could lead to extreme climatic events, such as heat waves, droughts and flooding. Portions of countries and entire islands could be lost to rising sea levels, crop yields could significantly decline and water shortages could occur. Over time, the impacts of climate change also could threaten our national security.

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I believe the best way to address global warming is through an effective and enforceable international agreement that binds all nations to reductions in greenhouse gases, including China and India. It is imperative we find a way to bring them and other large emitters into a binding agreement to control greenhouse gas emissions. If we do not get these countries on board, what we do in the United States will only have a marginal impact on controlling global greenhouse gas emissions and could lead to even more U.S.-based companies moving overseas.

While addressing global climate change presents a daunting challenge, it also provides economic opportunities. A number of studies suggest investment in clean energy could generate significant new employment opportunities. A June 2009 report released by the Pew Charitable Trusts found that between 1998 and 2007, jobs in clean energy grew at a national rate of 9.1 percent while traditional jobs grew by only 3.7 percent. In Michigan, clean energy jobs grew by 10.7 percent over the same period. By investing in research and development and advanced technologies, we can generate good paying jobs in the manufacturing and technology sectors.

On June 26, 2009, the House of Representatives passed the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES, H.R.2454) by a vote of 219 to 212. This legislation would establish a greenhouse gas cap-and-trade system and includes a number of energy-related provisions, such as renewable electricity standards and energy efficiency requirements. On September 30, 2009, Senator John Kerry (D-MA) and Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) introduced the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act (S.1733). This bill is similar to the House bill in that it sets up a greenhouse gas cap-and-trade system and provides incentives for the development of clean energy technologies. On November 5, 2009, this bill was approved by the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.

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The Senate bill would cap greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent below 2005 levels by 2020 and 83 percent below 2005 levels by 2050. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates the Senate bill would result in a cost impact of approximately $100 per household, averaged over the 2010 to 2050 time period. Before climate legislation is debated by the full Senate, S. 1733 will be merged with legislation authored by four other Senate committees: Energy and Natural Resources; Agriculture; Finance; and Foreign Relations.

Several factors need to be taken into account as the Senate works to address climate change and our national energy policy. In my view, any climate legislation that is enacted must not only reduce global greenhouse gas emissions, but also ensure the protection of consumers and workers, which requires taking into account regional differences that exist in the United States. I will work to ensure that climate legislation does not unfairly impact American manufacturing and jobs, especially with regard to our international competitiveness. It also is vital to include a border provision to make sure other countries do not gain a competitive advantage by failing to address the issue. Because climate change is a global challenge, legislation should establish a single, national standard that precludes states from setting their own standards, particularly for mobile sources.

Finally, the legislation should include targets and timetables that also are technologically achievable. On August 6, 2009, I sent a letter, along with several other Senators, to the President outlining many of these concerns.

As the Senate continues to craft climate change and energy legislation, I will be sure to keep your views in mind. Thank you again for writing.

Carl Levin

Do you know what your own senators think about climate legislation?  Ask them, then tell us what you find out.

Here’s more on Levin and climate, as written by Kate Sheppard on 21 July 2009:

Carl Levin is a Midwest, industrial-state Democrat with concerns about the economic impacts of climate legislation, but he thinks something needs to be done about global warming.

“Global climate change is occurring and swift action is needed to protect our planet for future generations,” he says on his Senate website.

Levin wants climate legislation to include funding for advanced auto technologies like hybrids and hydrogen vehicles and advanced biofuels — no surprise, as he represents Michigan. The House climate and energy bill dedicates $20 billion to electric vehicles and other advanced automotive technologies, thanks to the work of fellow Michigan Democrat John Dingell. It’s unclear whether those concessions will be enough for Levin.

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Last year, Levin voted to bring the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act to a floor vote, but also signed a letter from 10 swing-vote Democrats saying he would have opposed final passage of the bill.


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