WASHINGTON – In a bi-partisan effort to fight global warming,members of the House and Senate stood together Tuesday to introduce legislation that would cap greenhouse emissions.
Starting in 2010,the Climate and Stewardship Act would cap emissions and create a market-based system encouraging technological innovation and profitable opportunities for companies to cut emissions.
“Welcome to the battle,” said Sen. Joe Lieberman,D-Conn.,at a Capitol Hill news conference. “We’re not going to give up until we win it.”
Lieberman,along with Sen. John McCain,R-Ariz.,crafted a similar measure that came seven votes shy of passing the Senate in October. The new bill is being introduced in the House.
“Every day we don’t act on this issue is a day lost” because of the lengthy legislative process,McCain said. For example,he said,campaign finance reform took seven years to get through Congress.
The bill would cover electricity generation,transportation,industrial and commercial economic sectors. Agricultural and residential sectors are exempt.
Rep. John W. Olver,D-Mass.,said the measure could save money by allowing companies achieving or exceeding their caps to bank or sell emission credits. Companies would also be able to acquire credits from other companies.
“The time to act has well passed,” said Olver,who has a doctorate in chemistry. He said the bill is important because more than 25 percent of the polar ice cap has melted away since 1979.
Greenhouse gases covered under the bill include carbon dioxide,methane,nitrous oxide,hydroflourocarbons,perfluorocarbons and sulfer hexaflouride.
A business would be covered if it produces one of the gases above an annual level set in the bill.
“We have the technology to clean up global warming emissions,” said Daniel Lashof,climate center science director at the Natural Resources Defense Council. The council is a national non-profit organization of scientists,lawyers and environmental specialists.
“This bill is good news for business,and good news for our health. And it’s a strong vote for a safer environment,” Lashof said. He said that getting support will require grassroots tactics and lots of meetings because of the difficulty global warming legislation has had in the past.
“When you have a threat that’s far out in the future,it’s very difficult to get people to mobilize against it,” said Rep. Chris Van Hollen Jr.,D-Md.,one of the bill's sponsors.
Michael Shanahan,a spokesman for the American Petroleum Institute,said,“The industry supports a heavy and well-funded research program,” which the bill contains.
But he added,“What the industry opposes is anything that would lead to mandatory targets and timetables. The concern is that legislation might take us there.”
At the Electric Power Supply Association,spokesman Jack Hawks said the group has no position on the bill because he doesn't expect Congress to act on it this year. He said the group would examine it more closely if it does come up.