Sens. Bingaman, Specter introduce industry-backed climate legislation

Two U.S. senators have introduced climate legislation that’s a bold compromise or a copout, depending whom you ask. The Low Carbon Economy Act, sponsored by Sens. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) and Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), would cut current U.S. carbon-dioxide emissions 60 percent by 2050, using a cap-and-trade system that would allow companies to buy credits if they spew too much. Many unions and industry players are on board because the proposal throws them a juicy bone: companies can back out if the cost of trading becomes too high. The bill, supporters say, is “balanced” and will protect the economy. “We’ve never even stood up and said yes to one of these things,” says Bob Baugh of the AFL-CIO. While the legislation is stronger than the White House’s voluntary-cuts plan, critics worry that the targets aren’t ambitious enough and the loophole’s too loopy. “I understand there are some who would like more aggressive targets,” says Bingaman, “but we’re trying to put together legislation that will pass.”